If you were to walk into my massive, spacious, cavernous, 200 square foot Garage Gym and ask any of my athletes what the number one focus of this past summer was, you would hear a resounding “body control” echoing from the rafters 8.5 feet above your head!
You see, one of the main things I have always been extremely focused on, in my own training and with training others is learning more about ones own body. The way I talk about it is body awareness, and body control. But in the fitness world, this is generally understood as proprioception. This is basically the idea of a sixth sense, which we all actually have, some more than others, but we all have the ability to be aware of things within us and around us without really knowing how. I am absolutely fascinated by this stuff and I found, through research and trial and error, that learning more about proprioception will very quickly help you become a fitter, healthier person.
Here’s a little bit about all this works. All your senses are pretty self-explanatory. When you touch something, you feel it, when you see something, your process it, same with hearing and tasting. I really don’t know the inner mechanics of all that, but I know it to be true because I can hear the tapping of my keyboard, I can feel the keys under my fingers, I can see the words appearing on the document and I can taste the bacon I just ate in my mouth! But what about this sense of awareness; how do I have the ability to put my arms, hands, fingers and head in the most effective position for this whole typing fun? Well, from what I can understand it goes a little something like this: your brain says, “arm, move to the computer”, your arm then moves to the computer, then your arm says, “hey brain, I just moved to the computer, give me another game to play!”. This sort of thing happens hundreds of thousands of times a day; think about it, just take a moment and try to comprehend how many movements you make each and every day and that there is a full-blown process for each and every one.
We just take this stuff for granted all the time, but when you take a moment to realize that this stuff can actually be improved, you all of a sudden realize just where you stand might stand athletically. I mean, look at like a pro football player: his ability to comprehend how to change direction not once, but twice, or three times even, all while catching a football, avoiding a couple massive dudes wanting to crush him and this all takes place while airborne. Yeah, that’s body control. The best athletes are the ones who can control their own bodies the best, I mean think about this: if you didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other, how would you be able to do anything athletically? That’s a bit of an extreme example, but you get what I’m trying to say here.
So how do you become more aware of yourself? Well, one of the quickest ways I have learned is to practice basic gymnastics. Do headstands, handstands, forwards and backwards rolls, cartwheels and on and on. The more you move your body through space, the more you’ll be able to understand HOW to move your body through space. If you spend the majority of your time moving other objects through space (as in: lifting weights…), sure you’ll get strong, but you will rarely allow your mind to connect to the body in an intimate way. I am not discounting the effects of connecting to the barbell, or anything else for that matter, I just think that getting your mind and body syncing is probably one of the most important things you can do for overall health. If that is way too tough to get to right now, start simply buy doing very basic body weight movements (squats, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, etc). To help out even more, do these in front of the mirror, and, place your hands on the portion of your body that you’re moving. What you’ll be doing is using your main senses to assist in understanding how you move. The more you move, and the more focused you are in each and every movement you make, the better you’ll be at those movements! Easy as that!
In the end, it’s my belief that while lifting heavy things is really cool and impressive, the most impressive thing in the world is being able to have full control of your body. Google any gymnast, or Parkour athlete or B-Boy and you’ll know instantly what I’m talking about.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Along with Lindsey and my ‘splorin the neighborhoods for our new lives in the greater Washington DC area, I had an additional positive for being in DC this past weekend. The great folks at the CrossFit and Parkour gym Primal Fitness were putting on their second DC’s Most Primal CrossFit competition. Last years event was a huge hit and I finished with a come-from-behind sprint on the final WOD to win 2nd place (I was apparently about 10 seconds away from tying for 1rst…). This time around I guess I just lucked out with the competition being on the same weekend we’d be in town!
Things started off with two attempts at a 1 rep max deadlift. I decided to declare my first attempt at 465# and then, depending on what the competitive field was like, I’d jack it up or stay conservative. That first lift felt real good, fast, smooth and such, and seeing how there were a couple people working with weights around 500#, I decided to go for it. If I could pull 500# (technically a 15# PR from the PR I set almost two years ago! I would really say my PR at that point would be the 465# I pulled about a month back) I would get a 4th place spot on the first event.
I had a great feeling approaching the bar, felt confident and strong. The crowd added a whole level of motivation and I fed off that energy right from the get-go. Pulling that weight up felt awesome! I rounded only a little in my thoracic spine (upper back) , and I had a small little dip past the knees, but besides that, so strong! And yes, I am proud to say I am officially part of the 500# club! Sweetness!
Before the second event was announced, I had a great time catching up with all my friends. Being able to hang with all of them and just talk about this and that really helped to fuel the excitement building up inside of me for our big move back to the area. It was really nice. It also seemed to make the day just fly by, the second workout was set up and ready to go!
15 or so meter prowler push, down and back with 90# added
100# sandbag under rope, over 46” hurdle, under rope, over 36” hurdle, placed on top of 56” platform.
Return back over and under hurdles and ropes.
80# sandbag through same course.
Repeat prowler push
This was sneaky hard! What was so cool about this one was that you were so focused on maneuvering around the obstacles you never really noticed how tiring it actually was until you got back to the prowler. That second prowler push felt like trying to move a mac truck, not easy at all. My focus through this one was to just keep moving no matter what. I noticed that people were getting stuck on the last length with the prowler and that was eating up all the time; so, I decided to go at around 90% through the sandbag course so that I could go all out on the prowler. I feel as though I could have given a tad more on the obstacle course portion and still had about the same energy for that last push. I crossed the line at 1:56, enough for 5th overall on that event and placing me 4th overall going into the final workout. At this point I was happy to have a bit of a break because my lungs and legs were on fire! I love the prowler so much; it has got to be one of the most humbling and effective tools I can think of. So fun!
The final workout was announced and the air was a mix of moans, groans and excitement.
For Time do:
800 meter run
50 overhead lunges w/ 45#
800 meter run
The run was a loop around the neighborhoods in the rough terrain that is the Washington DC sidewalks. I was excited. This type of workout, while hard as hell, I tend to do pretty well with; just a “put you head down and GO” type of thing. The only negative was that it had a 15-minute cap and there were 7 heats going...I was in the 7th heat.
I started off at a comfortable pace, just ahead of the rest of the group. I felt very good, short, light steps, agile, relaxed. Entering into the gym I knew I was about 10 steps ahead of the guy behind me, so I just ran up to my station and began the burpees. Again, stayed at a good pace, tried staying light and rhythmical. After getting all 50 burpees unbroken, I grabbed my plate and hoisted it up for the lunges. I chose to do reverse lunges instead as to decrease the impact I would have to take; and while this helped out my legs, it was my shoulders that really failed me. I was able to get 10 right off the bat, but from there on through 50 I was only able to get 5 at a time. The thing that helped me however, was the fact that I never let go of the plate. Even when I rested it on the ground, I kept my hands on it as to not break momentum. I finished that up in a fatiguing mess and just took off for the run. Oh lord was the first half of that second run brutal. Slightly nauseous I just kept moving, and when I rounded the second to last turn I glanced back. The red shoes of Jason Gerrard (last years winner and the man to beat this year) caught my eye; I switched gears and took off. The last bit of motivation was seeing my good ol’ dad all the way around that last turn just pumping motivation at me! I got a final burst of energy and crossed the line at 11:29, good enough for a solid 3rd place in the event.
When the scores were tallied, just like last year I was able to push myself up to a 2nd place finish. Not enough to de-thrown Jason (an absolute beast of an athlete and an awesome guy), but still, very happy with how things turned out. Having not competed since last years Sectionals, I was in some serious need of one, and finishing 2nd after a red-eye flight and two days of driving around searching for housing and gyms boosted my confidence quite a bit! Big Dan (a great friend and training partner) gathered up the 3rd place spot!
A HUGE amount of respect to Jesse and Mark at Primal for putting on such an awesome event, and to their whole crew for helping out and being such warm-hearted people. And then, to all the competitors, impressive work all around! It was a blast to be able to be around all my old friends (AND to have my dad and Penda out there to cheer me on!). I am feeling that excitement of being around all those people soon!
A day off yesterday and I am back at it. Open Sectionals begin in two weeks exactly!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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