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Rings of Power by Mike GIllette

Rings of Power by Mike Gillette Cool new book from Mike Gillette about Ring Training for all fitness levels. Being on this shoot with Mike was like working with a real live action hero! (And I got to put a cinderblock on him too!) Mike knows his stuff and shares everything you need to know for his versatile go-anywhere ring training.  Full progressions of every exercise, workout plans, and all the know-how to take the training as far as you wish. Good stuff, and yes, that's me on the left side of the cover  :)

Some Big Lessons From a Smaller Workshop--Hanging with Zach Even Esh in NJ

Decided to get out of town and have some fun, so I very recently (as in this past Saturday) met up with Amber of in Somerville, MA (Boston area) and trekked down to New Jersey to help her photograph/video one of Zach's 4 hour workshops at his decidedly underground gym.   What a fun place he has--it was about the size of the warehouse I used to have for my previous business (ecommerce/light manuf. small place) but built out in such a way that there was plenty of room for turf, kettlebells, sandbags, barbell platforms, pull up bars, seriously difficult pull up alternatives (Sorinex, you are evil for those mighty mitts thick vertical items--and it is awesome), and some fairly epic metal stall bars... and all sorts of other stuff like giant tires etc etc.   Recently I'd had the pleasure to look through Zach's upcoming book which will be coming out on Dragon Door, so I was extra jazzed to see what he was like in person and what his gym was like in real life.

Zach is very much who he is, and that is fantastic.  Humble nearly to a fault, he has great skills related to coaching, programming, and motivation.  But what impressed me the most and what I can relate to the most is his extreme creativity, and his ability to work with somewhat chaotic conditions--to his best advantage.

This plays into the PCC (Progressive Calisthenics Certification) ethic and also to DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training) in so many ways.  Before I forget, I must mention one of the many great little tips that I got from Zach's workshop was the idea of filling an Ultimate Sandbag with mulch instead of sand--to create a lighter, but seriously unstable and unwieldy larger bag.  I am considering taking it one step further and using rubber mulch (because in humid humid Florida that stuff would grow mold for the ages).  Needless to say in an ongoing trend for that day during a break, I picked up the "Burly" Ultimate Sandbag that had about 70-80lbs of mulch in it and did a clean or two.  That'll wake you up for sure.   I like to do the occasional heavy clean with a large kettlebell (24kg, 28kg, 32kg...) or heavy doubles for fun (actually prefer doing singles if I am being heavy because it's easier for me to keep safe, AND it really gets the anti-rotational action going).  But back to the bag... this big ol' unruly Burly USB was too much fun to play with, and I'm looking forward to getting one to add to my collection... with that lighter filling because I think it'd be a riot to clean and press regularly.  As it was the other day I enjoyed checking out squats with it--the clean and the chaos the bag provided was not unlike some sloshpipe work in some respects.

But back to Zach... his demographic was a little different than what I'm used to seeing at other workshops, but very very related.  Many of the people in attendance were high school athletic coaches and/or CrossFit coaches.  Their level of skill and fitness was very impressive, and while there were only three women actively taking the course (not counting us--3 women and about 23 men), ONCE AGAIN I feel the need to say that this stuff works just as well (if not even better) for women.  Odd object lifting is an everyday part of the human experience, as is coordination, adaptation to any and all lifting situations, and dealing with the imperfect conditions everyone has with workouts--whether at home, out in the park, at a gym, etc.  Doing well with what you have, or what is available is such a valuable skill--for everyone.   Strength aside, the injury prevention potential of learning to work with odd objects and unfavorable leverage is worth the price of admission alone.  Athletic performance aside, the lifestyle enhancement potential is also just HUGE.

And since my only previous experiences in New Jersey involved a quick train ride to the EWR airport, I'm very pleased to report that even though I might have sang a few overly-impassioned bars of "Livin' on a Prayer" during a trip through the docks area, I was impressed with the lively and friendly people near the coast.  We had a great time and were only met with tons of hospitality and found an incredible restaurant right near Zach's gym.   The Committed Pig.  As soon as Zach mentioned it's name I was sold on it.  They served up some very high quality delicious (and at my request no bun) burgers and this thing called "pork roll" which was new and delicious (at least to us... I had to ask what in the world it even was!).  

But enough about food for now.  Here's a tip from Zach's workshop you can use with your next workout, let's assume you have 3-5 rounds through a circuit... each way through, vary the "grip" of the given exercises.   Here's a small made up example using just the pull-up as the variable:

First Round:

  • 5 Pull-ups ("tactical" pull-up grip, palms facing forward, no thumbs)
  • 5/5 kettlebell front squats
  • 20 kettlebell swings
  • 5 push ups (you could vary these too...)

Second Round:

  • 5 Pull-ups (chin up grip, palms facing you)
  • 5/5 kettlebell front squats
  • 20 kettlebell swings
  • 5 push ups (you could vary these too...)

Third Round:

  • 5 Pull-ups (parallel grip or better yet, some weird contraption like the Stronger Grip grip balls, or "the blob" or like in Neuro-Mass, a kettlebell safely suspended from the bar)
  • 5/5 kettlebell front squats
  • 20 kettlebell swings
  • 5 push ups (you could vary these too...)

I could go on and on, but you see the possibilities I hope.   Good stuff!  Definitely looking forward to Zach's book coming out.

DVRT Dynamic Variable Resistance Training Ultimate Sandbag Book by Josh HenkinSpeaking of books, I've been preparing quite the write up for both the DVRT 1+2 Certs I recently attended, as well as Josh Henkin's new DVRT book which has recently come out.   For those of you who think that you know all there is to know about sandbag training, this will give you some whole new challenges and progressions.   As with the certification workshops, I was really pleased with how challenging the sandbags are both for strength as well as for developing ninja-like coordination.  This is some surprisingly "youth giving" stuff.  I'm certainly more coordinated at 37 than I was when I was younger (and I wasn't exactly a klutz). 

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