On the Other Side of the (Training) Coin

My wife and I just returned from an awesome honeymoon in Boston, where we enjoyed some much-needed quality time together, experienced the city of Boston for the first time, and also got in some (five, to be exact) sweet training sessions up at Cressey Performance. Upon returning from the Northeast, there are a few summarizing points that immediately come to mind:

  • The food in Boston is outstanding. We tried a number of restaurants and ordered an eclectic assortment of food, and are yet to be disappointed with the food quality/taste. *Fist bump to Boston for making it hard-pressed to find bad food.*
  • While the food in Boston may be outstanding, the drivers are not. I couldn't believe I was experiencing drivers more moronic than those in DC. I understand it's expected to find ridiculous drivers when you enter any crowded area, but, I mean, it was literally as if the lane markers, stop signs, and traffic lights were casual suggestions as opposed to, oh I don't know, RULES maybe? To their credit, there quite a few ambiguous lanes and intersections, but needless to say we put on our bulletproof vests every time we set out for a drive, and I'm surprised we ended each day unscathed.
  • The city of Boston is my favorite city thus far. I've been to most of the major U.S. cities (Atlanta, DC, Philly, New York, Chicago, L.A., San Diego) and I have to say that Boston takes the cake. Walkable, plenty of beautiful scenery, people biking/running everywhere, lots of history, delicious food (see point #1)
  • Training at Cressey Performance was awesome. The staff was friendly/knowledgeable, the training atmosphere was invigorating, they have a dog mascot, Tank, who frequents the premises (see picture), and it was an incredible learning experience.
  • Tony Gentilcore consumes dead animal flesh faster than anyone I have ever met (we went to dinner with him and his girlfriend, and I think he was finished his turkey tips and double serving of broccoli long before I got my first bite of new york strip down).

Anywho, as previously mentioned, we trained at CP five out of our six days there, and it was well worth every minute/penny. Not to mention, we enjoyed staying active and getting after it far more than had we sprawled out on a sandy beach for hours on end somewhere in the tropics. Don't get me wrong, we love sunshine and beautiful beaches, but this was our version of spicing it up a bit and doing what we love.

We got to play with some new toys, too. I used the giant cambered bar for the first time, which rendered me able to posteriorly load myself (with a barbell) for the first time without shoulder pain. It felt pretty darn good:

Kelsey played with rope pullups for the first time:

We worked on our "yokes" with the farmer carry implements:

And we tried a variety of lifts using chains for added resistance. Deadlifts vs. chains, side planks vs. chains, hip thrusters vs. chains, and pushups vs......yep, chains.

Not to be outdone, my wife busted out a pretty impressive set:

(one of the CP interns made a pretty amusing comment to her - upon being shocked when she asked him to place 45lbs of chain on her - but I'll refrain from mentioning it here out of fear of offending a particular training camp).

I used to think people primarily used them (chains) for the general bada**ery obtained by doing any lift with them, but, after using them for the first time I can say that on top of the fact that while yes, you do automatically achieve mild superhero status when you add chains to a movement, they also offer a very practical loading tool. I'm foreseeing a trip to a marina sometime soon to pick up a few, and am definitely open for suggestions if anyone in the area knows of a good one.

Finally, getting to the central point of this post, I'd like to touch briefly on one of the bullet points I made at the beginning (specifically, that training at CP was an incredible learning experience). If I dug up only one golden nugget out of our experience up North, it was this:

Everyone, EVEN strength coaches, should be periodically coached and trained by someone else.

This was so invaluable for Kelsey and I that I can't even put into words all the benefits we received from this experience. Considering that Kelsey and I both spend 5-6 days a week coaching and helping OTHER people under our watch, it was a huuuge difference when we flipped to the other side of the coin last week and had the CP staff coach us.

From the assessment Tony gave us, to the program he wrote for us (working around the myriad injuries we both have), to the coaching cues and tips we received, to talking shop with the staff after our sessions, it was enlightening to learn from someone else (in person) for a change. It reminded me of what it's like to be corrected, to ask questions, and to have a coach oversee your every move. I've already seen how this experience will help me become a better coach myself (hint: A LOT). Furthermore, it was quite refreshing to have my form corrected or given tips on various set-ups (ex. I had never really been cognizant of rib flare during exercises and/or everyday life and how this negatively alters kinematics further up/down from the diaphragm).

Also, the program I was given FORCED me to work on the things I suck at:

  • Hip extension and rotation (primarily on the left side)
  • Hamstring strength (or lack thereof)
  • Breathing patterns
  • Pec length (or lack thereof)
  • Deadlifts
  • General mobility (really Tony? Three E-series movements, repeated TWICE,  at the end of EVERY session??)

This is great because these are all things I generally tend to skip/forget about in my everyday training as of late because of:

A) Rushing through training sessions either in between coaching sessions at SAPT and/or at the end of the night. B) Writing my own programs (and, as I've mentioned before, writing your own programs leaves you wide open to favoring your strengths and neglecting your weaknesses). C) In all honesty, failing to train myself (comprehensively) in the same way I train the clientele at SAPT.

Alright, it's time to wrap up this marathon of a post, so if you retain anything from this read, let it be that it will only be to your benefit to be coached by someone, and yes, this applies to strength coaches, too. If you're a competitive athlete or general fitness enthusiast, it is going to help you work on your weaknesses, reach your goals more efficiently, and give you a plan that will guarantee success. If you're a strength coach or personal trainer, it's going to give you all the benefits of the groups above but with the added benefit of allowing you to better serve your athletes/clients because you've walked in their shoes.

It's a win-win.