As many of you know I retired from congregational ministry in September of 2013. Since that time Connie and I have been seeking direction for our lives. This has included meeting with a group of friends monthly for about 6 months and a lot prayer.
Through this journey we believe our Heavenly Father is inviting us to join Him in His work in Pennsylvania near our children. This is both a gift and a work to be fulfilled. It is a gift in that two of our children and their families live in this area. As far as work, we do not know exactly what we will do yet. I believe I am to attend different pastors’ groups in the area and listen, go to the poorest areas of Lancaster and Harrisburg and pray and listen and I am to introduce myself to the various CrossFit gyms in the area and see what happens.
This is a big move for us as I have lived in Marin my whole life, so that means Connie and I have deep investments in this place.
You have been a big part of my life for over seven plus years. I count many of you not as co-workers and clients, but friends whom I love deeply. I will always keep you in my heart and prayers.
Our plan is to move in the middle of August. I will be stepping off of staff from The Cave when I depart for the CrossFit Games July 20th. I will be around the gym some until the middle of August.
Connie and I will be producing a e-newsletter; If you would like to know what is happening in our lives email me and I will add you to our distribution list.
We will be back for visits as we do have family in the area.
Some of you know Mira. She is the tall ex heptathlete that took a lot of adult gymnastics classes. Now, looking at her there’s no way you’d pin her as a gymnast. 6′ tall, really skinny. Not your typical gymnast build. She is a superb athlete. She was one of our female stars for American Ninja Warrior last year. She also picked up new gymnastics skills really quickly. Aside from her athletic ability Mira was just a great person to have around. She truly loves taking on new challenges, and bounces around like a little kid.
Mira took off a few months ago to head out to Brazil to work on a project. The above video is due to that project. The goal is to put together media to help young girls see the benefit and joy of choosing an active lifestyle. We miss her but totally support this effort. Watch the video.
Ok, Cavers, it’s a quick post day. So here’s a “How to Train for Ninja Warrior” video by Ryan “Demon Drills” Ford and Brandon Douglass. I’ve been wanting to make one of these myself but he beat me too it, and I don’t mind promoting his work, since he’s a good instructor. Some of you will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap and many similarities with CrossFit training. Indeed, a lot of those same functional movement skills come in very useful on the Ninja Warrior course. Most of my top picks for exercises would have been the same. Please comment and let me know what you think.
For the record, Ryan Ford finished 32nd in the south west regional qualifiers, narrowly missing the semi-finals for one of the most competitive regions in the nation. He had an injured ankle before the warped wall. I will also give him credit for training some of the very beasts that kept him out of the semi’s and providing them with their training grounds, Apex movement. Brandon Douglass is considered Ninja Warrior Elite, and tied for 10th in 2012 ANW 4 in Las Vegas, along with Elet Hall (NE region) and our own JB Douglass, falling on the transition of the Unstable Bridge in Stage 2.
Ok folks, a lot of you know that I like to post parkour videos here and there. Well, how about one of our own this time? Check out Noah Amparano rocking Ryder’s PK course at The Cave. This wasn’t even his best run. Man, that boy is quick! (Please excuse the sideways start… it gets corrected a few seconds in.)
By the way, for you CrossFitters, I was going to post Martin’s Push Jerk PR, but it occurred to me that I’d better ask him first, before I get in trouble. Hopefully on Thursday or Friday!
Tonight instead of the elaborate blog post plans that I had I am simply going to let you all know that Rafe is visiting the San Francisco Bay area and that I’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited to meet with him to talk shop and train with him and Albert Kong. ”Who is Rafe Kelly?”, you might ask. Rafe is the founder of Parkour Visions in Seattle, one of the first and most respected parkour programs in the country. Parkour Visions is a non-profit that focuses on making parkour as accessible as possible to their community. I hold them in the highest regard. Here are a couple of videos of Rafe showcasing a little bit of his training:
At Parkour Visions’s National Parkour Summit:
And of those of you who are curious, studious, and patient enough, here’s is Rafe on Parkour Programming:
More on Rafe’s view on Parkour programming & a (related) Kid’s Night Out Blog to come later. For now I’m hoping for a few hours of sleep before training with Rafe!
I think it’s an appropriate time to admit it, even if it’s not completely Kosher in the CrossFit, Gymnastics, or Parkour world. Baseball is pretty awesome. It’s just a sweet game. It’s the ultimate duel of wills and strategy. It takes that unique human ability to launch missiles out of our hands with just the powers of the human body (and awesome mechanics) to an extreme that boggles the mind. No matter how hard we train at anything, there are animals, other species that is, that can pretty much kick our ass at whatever we try to do physically- except for throwing. We’re the throwing champions and that ability has lifted us over the prehistoric giants. If it weren’t for throwing, we’d probably be extinct, because that’s how we made up for our otherwise great lack of physical aptitude and made food out of larger, stronger, scarier animals. Today we don’t have to hunt with stones and spears, but we showcase our great ability to throw and our amazing fine motor control in Baseball, and we have some pretty awesome teams right here in the Bay Area. Since we have quite a few baseball fans in The Cave, and two Major League teams to be proud of, I’ve decided that today’s blog is going to be about baseball and pitching mechanics.
How about our San Francisco Giants and Barry Zito keeping the season alive? Sometimes you just do have to earn your $126 million and extend the season. Here is a slow motion of his pitching mechanics:
Believe it or not, this does relate to CrossFit in some way. Pitching mechanics might be the most beautiful illustration of what Greg Glassman has called the common theme in functional movements: Core to extremity. The power is generated in the large muscle groups, which would be the legs and the core and is then transferred and magnified into and by the extremities, which in this case would be through the shoulder, upper arm, fore arem, wrist, hand and finger of the pitching arm. Here is a repost of my favorite pitching mechanics video featuring Tim Lincecum:
You have to love physics. Here is a little video regarding some of the strategy of pitching:
Most of you know that the Giants just won their last game 5-0 vs. the Cardinals, so they’re in a must win situation heading back home to AT&T park. Hey, at least we’ve got an exciting series!
The A’s have been eliminated by the Detroit Tigers, nonetheless they definitely deserve a lot of recognition, especially when you consider the following:
The 2012 Oakland team beat Texas to win the division on last game of the season after trailing by 13 games.
Team Payroll for 2012:
#1 NY Yankees - 195.9 million - 94 wins
#5 Texas Rangers - 120.5 million - 93 wins
#30 Oakland A’s - 49.1 million - 94 wins
Sometimes you just have to fight the odds, believe and go at it like you’re the champ, and the A’s have done just that, and they lost to one hell of a Detroit Tigers team. Here is the trailer for a great movie about what it takes to be the fighting underdog:
So let’s hope The San Francisco Giants rise to the occasion for the next two games to get to the World Series.
Our friend and neighbor, Andrew Frierson owns Andrew’s Camps next door. He is a former minor league baseball player who runs summer camps and coaches baseball. He has actually sent some of his aspiring Ninja Warrior kids over to our parkour classes and after they are done running, jumping, swinging and vaulting they go next door to hit some baseballs. What an awesome place to grow up if you’re a kid, next to the Cave and Andrew’s camps!! I just want to see our little Ninjas grow up to play baseball and be able to do a wall run up the outfield wall to keep a would-be homer in the ballpark! How cool would that be?!
During a conversation with a relatively recent Caver who has been doing CrossFit with us for a few months, I asked her if she’d be interested in taking a parkour class. I was very surprised when she told me that it seemed to her that Parkour was more of a “guy thing” or a boy’s sport than a girl’s. Now, in my opinion, there may be some good reasons why not to try parkour, but that should definitely not be one of them. Parkour isn’t a guy’s sport, especially not any more than CrossFit is a guy’s sport! I can see why some people may think that, say, boxing is more becoming for men than for women (that is not my personal opinion, women can be boxers if they so choose, but I can understand that line of thought more so than for other sports.) but women excel and love to practice most sports, and especially parkour! It is actually more beautiful to watch, in some ways, than guys doing parkour. While elite traceurs (male parkour practitioners) can be more powerful and explosive, traceuses (female parkour practitioners) are generally more graceful and have beautiful “flow” and lines. It’s hard to explain, but I really don’t have to because I have a video to prove it and you’ll see what I’m talking about:
So now we’ve settled that issue. Parkour isn’t “for boys”. How about for CrossFitters? Well, depends what kind of CrossFitter you are. It seems that these days CrossFitters are interested simply in CrossFit. Old school CrossFitters had a broader interest. Back in the day, when no one knew what the hell CrossFit was, some of us (including Roger and myself) were like CrossFit evangelists telling everyone about it, and Greg Glassman would travel around with his posse talking to people and having seminars and explaining to people “What is CrossFit”. This is a partial quote from the “What is CrossFit” page on CrossFit.com:
“Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.”
Back then it wasn’t about simply decreasing your Fran time, or 1-rep maxes, it was about being exposed to a wide variety of movement stimuli. ”Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survivial, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness..” part of the prescription was to go out and try all these things, including gymnastics. As a matter of fact, my second exposure to parkour came at a CrossFit certification seminar in Sta Cruz where Glassman had guest speaker Jesse Woody from American Parkour do a little presentation on parkour as part of the cert. In my own Level-1 certification I assisted Roger in teaching the gymnastics segment (we taught handstands, back handsprings, round offs, rolling, presses, etc- not just “handstand push-ups” leaning against a wall) and we got to learn combat from John Hackleman. It was all part of the program just as much as working with a barbell was. The CrossFit that I was exposed to at first which drew my attention included all these interesting things and the piece that resembles it the most is when I see it at the highest level at the CrossFit Games. At least they got to do a triathlon, run an obstacle course and throw stuff. So my point with all of this is that it saddens me when Cavers box themselves in to just “specializing” in CrossFit. You should go out and try stuff! But you’re afraid of getting hurt!- OK, be extra conservative. Don’t do anything rash or be reckless. Swim in a pool, not in the open ocean. Try parkour in a safe gym environment with instruction, not on a wet metal rail over asphalt. Try rock climbing in a gym first before you go do it at the Red River Gorge. Recently not only Cavers but thousands of athletes went off to do the “Tough Mudder”. I heard about a lot of injuries, not just from our gym but from friends of friends. I can guarantee you that if these people trained Parkour in a gym environment first before going off and trying obstacles with a 10 mile run built in they would have been far less likely to get hurt than if they just “winged it”. Their prior experience would have left them much more confident as well. Sure it’s possible to get hurt training new sports in the gym, but it definitely makes you more robust in other activities and the real world!
Now this relates to the ”American Ninja Warrior & Parkour Seminar” that I am hosting here at our very own Cave on Nov. 4th (for adults) and Nov. 3rd (for kids). (The kid’s event is basically sold out but if the weather forecast is for no rain we will open 12 more kids slots.) This, believe it or not, is the perfect situation to step out of your comfort zone and do something new- and relatively safe. How “relatively safe”? As safe as your CrossFit class. Seriously.That safe. Maybe safer. We are very good at designing and scaling obstacles and as long as people listen to instructions and don’t go try something stupid that they’re asked not to do, the risk is minimal. Usually athletes surprise themselves and have big smiles on their faces the whole time and thank us later. What if you can’t make it or it’s not your thing? That’s fine, but try something else. Dance. Judo. Gymnastics. Try something that involves different types of coordination, agility, body control and timing. Maybe it’s picking up an old ball sport that you used to play with your friends as a kid like tennis, baseball or basketball or perhaps it’s going biking, skiing or snowboarding with some of your fellow Cavers. Maybe it’s taking your old skateboard out of the garage, albeit going to the sporting goods store to buy a helmet, wrist guards and knee pads. Live it up, use your body. It’s rewarding!
So if you’ve been following the Blog some of you will know that by Nick’s suggestion we were to post a week’s worth of our own programming/ workouts and possibly nutrition as well. Most of the new CrossFitters at the Cave don’t know me all that well, so I’ll mention a few things about myself relating to my “fitness”, interests and goals that may shed light on what and why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Basically, I’m training for Ninja Warrior and I have a couple of major “holes” in my game. Here’s a little video contrast to shed light on the situation. My attempt at a transition on the Ultimate Cliff Hanger at David & Brian’s Ninja Warrior Course in Santa Cruz:
And here is David Campbell crushing the UCH:
To be fair, David Campbell is probablyThe Best American at The Ultimate Cliff Hanger. He lives on that thing.
Most of you may not know that I’ve been fairly good at CrossFit in the past, competing in the 2007 and 2008 CrossFit Games and Sectionals or on the CrossFit Marin Affiliate Team as well as the Games Open although these days CrossFit is secondary in my training. In 2010 I competed in American Ninja Warrior II and since then I’ve been hooked and each year I’ve prioritized Ninja Warrior specific training more and more. CrossFit can definitely help provide a great fitness base for an even like ANW, but in my opinion the two disciplines that prepare an athlete the best for American Ninja Warrior (other than simply replicating and training on the obstacles) are Parkour and Rock Climbing. Gymnastics is a close 3rd. So each year since I started competing in ANW, I’ve been shying a little further away from heavy CrossFitting and emphasizing climbing and Parkour. In both 2010 & 2011 I completed the qualifier course in Venice but was just a little bit too slow to finish in the top 30, which is the pool that moves on to the semi-finals. This year, 2012, it was a much easier process to make it to the next stage because they had six regions and a lot more competitors advancing to the finals. I barely made it to the finals in Vegas but I fell on the “Jumping Spider” in stage one. Although I didn’t finish the stage, I know that I am physically capable of doing so. I made a “read” error for the obstacle. If I tried it again I very well could get it and I know that even if it is possible for me to fall, I am very capable of finishing stage 1 of the course. Here is a stage-1 simulation at David, Brian & Travis’ former Sasuke course in Santa Cruz:
Although stage two is commonly thought to be considerably harder, it is still within my capability of completing it, as long as I have a good run. Stage 3, however, is a completely different matter. I know that I have uncommonly strong grip strength and pull strength compared to most people, even most CrossFitters. (If you think you can beat me at a grip strength contest, come find me. I’ll be happy to acquiesce.) However, the amount of grip strength and endurance as well as core strength and explosiveness required to complete stage 3 of American Ninja Warrior is, well- ridiculous, and I know that I’m not there at the moment. I’ve decided to concentrate on climbing until my finger strength increases enough to at least give me a chance at completing stage 3 of the competition. Climbing at the level that I’m trying to get to is very hard, and somewhat dangerous, similarly to how how it can be dangerous to perform at an elite level at any sport. You can simply be more at risk of injury. Here is a week of my programming starting on Sept. 15th at the Meyers South Lake Tahoe bouldering competition:
Saturday Sept. 15th: Bouldering outdoors (that is climbing with no ropes- you stay low to the ground. It tends to be shorter but more powerful. Kind of like a “strength day” to climbing instead of a metcon- [longer route on a rope.]) for about 8 hours starting around 9-ish and ending around 5-ish. Actual “on the rock” time was much less. This involved plenty of hiking, strategizing, and resting in between problems, as well as enjoying the good company. It was hard climbing outdoors since I’m mostly used to climbing in a gym, but it was very gratifying and I became familiar with a lot of great climbing spots in Tahoe. The hardest problem I got was (supposedly) a V-6, which is fairly hard, but I mostly completed V-1’s & V-2’s. I think the V-6 was over rated in terms of difficulty. Also, after the climbing competition was over, I participated in the dyno comp which was fun, but I got trounced, in both the boulder and the dyno comp. My friend and climbing partner Brett Ashton, won the dyno comp and came in 3rd in the “open” category, which is populated by super-freaks. He’s about as good as you can get at climbing and not be professional. He is sponsored by Evolve. Here’s a picture of him on a V8 on the “Toltec Boulder”:
Bret Ashton on The Toltec Boulder in South Lake Tahoe. Bret, stop bitching about the heat and just send!
Sunday Sept. 16th: Woke up early to go for a run at altitude through the forest. I got side tracked by rocks to jump on. I ended up practicing a great stride / gap leap sequence on a series of rocks and a bush to jump over in between the second to last and last rock. Practiced single steps on rocks, leap over bush and land the precision on the last rock. It required considerable speed and commitment. Great coordination, depth, power, and agility training as well as the “mental” aspect of training a big skill. The moves required short sprinting. Ran back to camp. The bulk of the day was taken up by watching Bret and another fellow make a project of a V-11 that I couldn’t even start. Later doubled up by finishing the day at the “hemorrhoid” boulder on a classic V3 that I made up. Probably 1.5 hours of climbing there to close up the day.
(hadn’t snatched in a while went conservative with just 55 kg.)
C> For Time:
Rest 1 min
50 Hand Release Push Ups
Rest 1 min
Wednesday Sept. 19th: Hill sprints (roughly 80 meters?) right outside of my parents’ house:
3 R: Hill Sprint / 15 Push-ups, then rest
Moderate bouldering later that night at Planet Granite
Thursday Sept. 20th:The Cave programming Lvl 2:
A> Thruster- 5×3 @ 80% (Increased weight for sets from 40kg through 65 kg.)
B> Back Jerks - Did not have time to do this.
C> 5 min Emom of: 15 Hand Release Push Ups; 2 Single Leg Box Jump L/R.
(Coincidentally Jonny Mosely came in to the gym during the E-mom. He was one of the hosts of American Nina Warrior 4. I actually met him during the qualifiers in Venice, although he is a local and several of our clients know him.)
D> 5 min Emom of: 8 Toes to Bar/ Pull up alternate. This was excellent training for Ninja Warrior. It combines the core and pull strength necessary for a lot of the upper body obstacles as well as giving you a stamina hit.
I should have probably taken a rest day that day, but it felt good to train at the time. I paid for it the following week though, when my shoulder and later my neck seized up. I’m finally better about two weeks later, but the three days in a row of push-ups with no rest when I’m somewhat deconditioned in regards to CrossFit training may have had something to do with it. Special thanks to Dr. Sara LaMarch for helping heal up my shoulder and neck.
Friday Sept. 21st: Monsterous bouldering day at the climbing gym. I crushed a V6, almost completed a second V6 project, and started chipping away at the pieces of a pretty tough V7 among other problems that I managed to send. However, that weekend my neck tightened up during that weekend probably due to a combination of bad sleeping posture and previous workouts.
I intend on focusing on climbing for the next several months and expanding to parkour and gymnastics with some Ninja Warrior specific training thereafter. I will also be doing a limited amount of CrossFit-ish workouts, especially to keep some Olympic lifting skills. As far as my nutrition for that week, I tried to eat somewhat healthy, but I’m pretty sure that I ate too much ice-cream. It can happen on climbing trips.
As a reminder, The Cave has a Ninja Warrior Seminar & competition coming up on Nov. 3rd for kids and Nov. 4th for adults. We’re going to have a whole team of American Ninja Warrior celebrities here to coach you through several courses and teach you some Ninja skillzzz. If anyone wants to try learning some of this skill set, it would be a great place to practice! No parkour or rock climbing prerequisites! The kids’ event is almost sold out but the adult one still has plenty of room. Sign up on our website and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
On October 6th of this year it will have been 6 years since Roger and I registered the fictitious business name for CrossFit Marin. We opened the business’ bank account with $500 each. At first most of our equipment was comprised of PVC pipe so that we could drill the Olympic lifts. There may have been a couple of dumb bells too. The gym has come quite a ways since then, and it’s not just because of Roger and me. It’s because of the hard work and dedication of the coaches, the clients, and the vision of the new (part) owners of the The Cave as well. Here are a few random pictures that I found in my phone of back in the day. Most of these are from around 2009. I chose to post the first one because many of you will notice the big pull-up rig next time you come into the gym. Well, this is where that rig used to be. Looks different, huh?!
A view from outside of the main roll-up door to the CrossFit area, which back then was right next to the gymnastics area.
Back then we were in the habit of teaching Sunday classes at Pixley Park, which we got used to in 2008 when we were… ummm…. homeless.
A parkour & CrossFit set-up at Pixley Park. Is that Debbie Primo doing farmer's walks?
Did you all know that Coach Bill Berry is also known as 001? (Double-O-One) That is, he was our very FIRST client in October of 2006! Here he is teaching Armando (who is responsible along with his wife for painting most of our gym. Nowadays Amy Dockus has did most of the painting of the office area) L-sits on the parrallettes:
Bill Coaches Armando while Ivette looks on
This following picture fills me with joy and pride. (Sounds hokey, I know, but really it makes me tear up.) The young lady coaching the little kids in this picture is Seraphina Schinner at age 15, coaching her pre-school gymnastics class. Back then I coached her in parkour and taught her how to teach gymnastics along with the other senior coaches. These days she’s an experienced coach, is level-one CrossFit certified. When she gets back from France in January she’ll just be turning 18. Hopefully she’s been training over there!
Seraphina teaches pre-school gymnastics.
Here’s a picture of Karen LeFurgy (well, her back, anyways) walking past the CrossFit aftermath and another one of Jean-Luc and Karen after I ran them through foundations-4. I’d like to note the the LeFurgys have worked hard at building up the business, doing much of the re-branding as “The Cave” and the marketing work, which was a very long and involved process. Rich LeFurgy is also now one of our coaches.
Karen LeFurgy walks by the CrossFit aftermath
Karen & JL after Foundations-4 (Old school foundations-4!)
I know you know that coach Bo is strong… but did you know that Coach Bo is Ninja? Don’t let that deep-voiced corn husking farm boy fool you. I’ve got evidence! See… ?!:
Yup... Bo is Ninja.
Don’t mess with Bo.
What would the gym be like without coach Russ? Well, it would probably still be here, but it would definitely not be nearly as charming, as clean, or as fun for the kids! Here’s coach (and part-owner) Russ timing a hang contest:
The kids having a great time with Russ
Who’s re-vamped the entire gymnastics program to make it more efficient, professional, and sharper overall? That would be Coach (and part owner) Amanda, of course! (with a little bit of help from coach Russ as well.) Here she is showing off one of her little ones on the rope:
One of Amanda's little gymnasts zips of the rope!
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most gun-ho CrossFitter of them all… ?? That would be Captain ( & part-owner ) Nick Wise, of course. Here he is teaching his extraordinary self-defense seminar. It is an invaluable learning experience.
Nick sets up a self-defense scenario. What's going to happen next?!
Do you like the new CrossFit programming? Pretty darn “tight”, don’t you think? Do you know who you should thank for the revamping of the CrossFit program? (or who you should blame for your pain!?) That would be Coach Bryan Oki, our new CrossFit Director, of course. This is one passionate and intelligent teacher. If you want to be good at something, most of all you have to be passionate about it!
CrossFit coach extraordinaire. 'Nuff said.
Even though I didn’t find a picture, we should also mention Ryder Darcy, ( Parkour Director) and Andrey Pfening, who have been revamping the parkour program that just keeps getting better and more fun every day. You should see what some of those kids can do!
At its core, who holds this place together? I think that would be Co-Founder Roger Harrell, of course. Ever diligent & ever faithful. Here he is recording the results of the day on the wall of the “medium” gym. Circa 2009.
Roger on the results wall. Back then we used to have the "weekly records" up above the daily ones. Data is important- gosh darn it! ;)
Well, I suppose that I should throw up a picture of myself in here and toss modesty out the window. Which one should I pick? Ahhh, a Ninja Warrior one, of course! How did “The Cave” become an American Ninja Warrior icon anyways? Well, here I am at the top of the warped wall in 2011. I completed the qualifying course for the 2nd year in a row and I STILL didn’t even get mentioned, much less aired, on the damn show. Well, you know what they say… 3rd time is a charm.
See, the damn thing is actually pretty tall!
Now if I can figure out how to win the whole damn thing I might get more than a few seconds of TV coverage. Thankfully, though, we have Tom Hutchman. After all, if you watch Ninja Warrior you’d know that the whole “Roger and I starting this gym” is just a tall tale. The Cave really belongs to Tom Hutchman (and the rest of you- it’s YOUR GYM). Here is Tom Hutchman taking ownership of his Cave. And you should too. After all, if you don’t take care of it, who will!?
Tom takes ownership of his Cave. I'm not telling him that we have a new janitor. I like to watch him vacuum.
Thank you for not only making the whole thing possible, but also worth while. After all, you’re the reason why this place exists.
Nothing quite like getting (or giving) a piggy back ride outside The Cave.