Pre seminar FYF/Saturday at Dan Johns
After getting in late Thursday evening, we were feeling a little drained on Friday morning, but a trip to FYF awaited, and the excitement of finally walking through the door at Gym Jones kept the jet lag at bay.
If I didn’t feel the jet lag before FYF, I certainly did afterwards! The altitude, heat and humidity added a nice level of spice to things. An IWT was a perfectly disgusting way to blow off the cobwebs of travel. A baptism of fire to say the least, but enjoyable all the same. I’m just wired that way.
An added extra to the trip was getting to catch up with Dan John. Dan is a great and experienced strength coach, one that I have a high level of respect for, and one of the most down to earth and inviting guys you could meet in this industry. We were invited round for a lovely home cooked dinner, a nice refuel after FYF. Dan’s famous Jambalaya did its job! The hospitality and all that Dan and Tiff wanted to do for us was humbling.
We returned Saturday morning to train with Dan out of his garage gym. A needed tonic/mobility workout was perfect for some recovery work, and an introduction to several different loaded carry variations was another valuable lesson. The slosh pipe carry was a humbling experience that showed up a few weaknesses to address. I can’t thank Dan enough for the time he gave up for free for us.
Saturday evening was back fully in Gym Jones mode, as we met up with the big guy, Bobby Maximus, to head out for the ‘best burger in SLC’ That is a grand statement from such a burger aficionado! It didn’t disappoint.
A quick side note on this. People will laugh when they see the amount of food and burgers consumed during this week, but it is important to put it into context. This is one meal of the day. A meal that most days came after training twice a day, and harder than many of you could imagine pushing yourselves to, in a dry, hot and humid desert climate, and at altitude. The calories needed to recover and maintain a high level of performance, for me, a 97kg guy, are large. There is only so much ‘clean’ food can be eaten in hard training times like these. Sometimes your body just needs you to get the calories in there to recover from what you’ve put it through so you can go hard again the next day. Always bear this in mind when you look at the eating habits of others. Do you do the work that they do?
Sunday training at the church
Sunday was a fun day. I’ll say this many times, it is an honour and a privilege to be a small part of the ever-growing Gym Jones family. To be invited into Rob’s home, to train in his garage gym with a group of friends, some old and some new, was awesome.
To quote Rob:
“Another incredible Sunday at The Church Of Bobby Maximus. I'm so grateful for the people who are in our lives. We are surrounded by hard work, commitment, friendship, love, and respect. It seems that with each day, week, month, and year our family continually grows and we meet more and more wonderful people. To say we are fortunate would be an understatement. Thank you for a remarkable day.”
We got in some useful recovery breathing and pacing work ahead of what was to come the following day, the 2000m row for time. And yes, we did go for another burger…
What an amazing day this turned out to be with some incredibly inspiring people. First off it was great finally meeting so many people face to face that I feel like I’ve known for a while through social media and the extended family that is Gym Jones. A packed room full of likeminded individuals is an environment to thrive upon being in.
The atmosphere, level of effort and camaraderie was on another level. We kicked things off with some heavy lifting, working up to a PR if we felt like it was in the tank, then a 5x2 @80%, utilising the PAP method to prime for what was to come later in the day. I made a PR of 535lbs/242.6kg, the first of the day. It was pretty awesome seeing my name first up on the board. That settled some of the pre seminar jitters that had lingered all weekend prior to Monday morning.
The lifting wasn’t the cause of the nerves. It was the knowing that a 2000m row for time would be coming, as it did in the afternoon. We finished off the morning first with some extra priming for that effort with 10x100m row efforts, starting at 15 seconds slower than 500m PR pace, working on negative splits, with only the last 3 being any kind of hard effort at around 90% of 500m PR pace.
After lunch came the first bit of studying, recapping some of the programming fundamentals of the foundation phases.
Then, with the temperature cranking right up, came the 2000m row for time. There were some inspiring efforts to watch. The standard expected of a male is <7 minutes, female <08:15. I came in at 06:57 on the day. No PR, but acceptable. The heat, humidity, and altitude were a lot harsher than anticipated. With all those factors, just making the sub 7 minute standard was acceptable on the day, but leaves plenty of room to improve. The day finished with a head to head battle with reversed computer screens between Jake and Red. It was an impressive sight watching two great athletes put everything on the line. Jake came out the winner, and walked away with a Gym Jones shirt and fully certified instructor status for his efforts. Earned. Deserved.
Another awesome day. The group of people here just continues to inspire. Everyone in it together, working themselves hard giving it their all to improve themselves. The supportive environment cannot be matched anywhere.
There was some good knowledge shared on programming today. We spoke more in depth through programming for high-level foundation phases, and then started to touch on specific programming for endurance athletes. I found this very useful, and plenty to take away.
On the training front, today saw some shoulder injury proofing work in the morning, including a bunch of strict pull ups and plank pulls, pendlay rows, and Y’s, J’s and W’s. So much of what we do places stress on the shoulders. It is important to keep them as healthy as possible. Never neglect the small stuff.
The day finished off with a 2000m SkiErg for time. My first time attempting this, a 07:05 the result. Not happy with that, but a marker to improve upon. Sub 7 minutes the aim to hit soon. Now its been done once, I have a feel for it, and I’ll hit that standard.
The most impressive effort came from an inspiring friend, Jay Collins. One of the oldest on the course at 48, he by no means lets that limit him. He destroyed the 2000m SkiErg in 06:44 proving that age is just a number. Do not allow yourself the excuse of getting older for a decrease in performance. There is still a hell of a lot that you can achieve. If I’m in half his shape when I’m that age, I’ll be doing a lot right.
Another great day of practical and theoretical based learning. On the training front, we went through a whole load of lower body structural and injury proofing work. Lots of good single leg movements – single leg squats off a box, Bulgarian split squats, single leg deadlifts, sled marches and drags, and deficit KB RDLs and stiff legged deadlifts for some hamstring work also. All valuable stuff that most of us neglect to do as often as we should. Much like the shoulders, injury proofing around the knees and hips is important work that needs to be done.
The afternoon then called for the largest IWT ever held at Gym Jones, always a ‘fun’ occasion. KB swings and two-minute rows, goblet squats and two minute AirFit sprints, both for three rounds, then the most hellish plank ever to finish. I will never look at a plank in the same way again. Thanks to Lisa Fresard for that!
Everybody worked his or her proverbial nuts off. I don’t care if I’m repeating myself again, but it really is a truly inspirational place to learn and suffer with an incredible group of likeminded individuals.
On the learning front, Rob shared some great knowledge on programming for endurance athletes. I found this very useful, and the format easy to digest. Lots of great stuff to take away.
This morning saw a change of pace with a different kind of challenge, a hike up Beacon Hill on Mount Wire. With 2200 elevation, two miles straight up, this was far from a stroll in the park, especially when you throw in the sore hamstrings and glutes everybody was feeling from the previous days work. I didn’t have a heart rate monitor on, but my partner in crime for the week Stu Walton did, and his HR jacked up to 191 bpm. I’m sure mine was similar if not a tad higher! This was two miles straight up, taking the bulk of the group between 45-50 minutes to ascend. The descent was tough in its own right also, with some pretty uneven and loose footing. This took longer, a little over an hour to navigate.
While incredibly tough, it was great to get out in the fresh air, and the views over SLC at the top were brilliant.
The afternoon we had the pleasure of sitting and listening to Mark Twight teach. I could listen to that man speak all day long. The wealth of knowledge he has is endless. He taught us about hydration, sport specific nutrition and fuelling for endurance, and some higher level programming for endurance.
Well here we are, the final day of the seminar. The week seems to have flown by, yet that first FYF feels like a long time ago, as so much has happened in the past 7 days.
Today saw a change of focus toward functional mass gain. The knowledge was excellent once again from Rob. The overriding point here for me, is do not sacrifice athleticism for ‘worthless’ size. The larger the aerobic base going into the mass gain, and the maintenance breathing work done while on it are both important. The better the base, the less functionality and work capacity will suffer.
We put this into practice with the largest mass gain workout Gym Jones has ever seen, Rob couldn’t have been happier! A 10-1-1-10 push up ladder warmed everyone up heading into a 10x10 format of strict press. A push up competition followed, with closely fought battle, with fellow Brit Chris Hines just losing out to Joe, from Varsity House.
After lunch, an interesting discussion on business, social media, and the internship program going forward, it was nearly time for FYF.
First up came a 15000m SkiErg relay. Four teams, a room full of over 30 people, all working their absolute hardest. The atmosphere was electric. Winning wasn’t important, it was the togetherness, the camaraderie, and constant support from everyone pushing each other on to achieve their best, and more that was the magical aspect of it.
With Rob in no rush to leave that evening, there was one final optional event to finish things off – last man standing on the AirFit. 14 of us felt compelled to throw ourselves back onto the fire one (or up to five…) last time. The way this works: everybody does an all out minute. The fastest handful are done to reduce this to eight. They go again, fastest four are done, slowest go again, and so on, until the last man standing does one final all out minute with the support of the group around.
That was two minutes of my life I’ll remember for some time. If you’ve never done an all out minute, let me tell you, its about 50 seconds too long! Try repeating that. You can dig a very large hole in a minute if you truly go for it. This may have been optional, but there was really only one decision to make. All in or not at all.
“Its always darkest just before it goes pitch black. Translation: Shit can always get worse.”
Rob also stepped up. The best of teachers lead by example. He did just that crushing 85.7 calories in one minute. That’s what you call horsepower! I hit 66.3, and 62.1 on the two rounds I had to endure for comparison.
What a week. The emotion in the closing words from Mark Twight was touching. This really is something truly special that he, along with Lisa and Rob initially, plus all others involved have built. Words cannot describe the gratitude I have towards these people. All inspirational teachers and friends. I cannot thank them enough for all that was shared, and the environment to which they have so openly invited us all to be a part of.
To paraphrase Josh Vert:
Hard work, commitment, persistence, difficulty, tolerance, internal negotiation, vision, imagination, physical effort, psychological effort above and beyond the physical, the will to do, the will to suffer, all of it lasting for a long time over months and years are values that bind us all together.
“We are more than just a gym. We are more than a collection of individuals who train together. We are a family. We are a group of likeminded individuals focused on being the best people we can be. We couldn’t be more proud of the people who attended our advanced seminar this year. It truly was something magical.”
I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share this experience with. I am a better person for knowing each and every one of them. This may have been the last of the seminars, but this isn’t the end, there is a long journey still to be taken. This is just the beginning.