Stop 7: Crossville, Tennessee
How’d I End Up Here?
Back in the United States! Stop 7 brings us to the legendary Power Monkey Camp.
Last year at the Masters Fitness Championships I had the chance to get to know Dave Durante, Mike Cerbus, and Jordan Samuel much better than I ever previously had. In the time we spent together that weekend, and in the time since, they have had me on their podcast and invited me to be a guest participant at PMC 20, their 20th camp. Needless to say, I am honored by their kindness and gratitude and am stoked for soaking in everything they’ve harnessed over the last decade.
Day 0: (Saturday Evening / Sunday Morning)
I took a quick pit stop in Houston for 40 hours to surprise my closest friends’ dad for his 70th birthday. While there I learned that one of my favorites, Annie Sakamoto, would be not just accompanying me at Power Monkey Camp, but that we’d be riding in from the airport together.
It got even better than that though as we were actually on the same connecting flight out of Dallas. So lunch at DFW and the car ride from Nashville to Camp gave me a chance to get some insights from Annie about her previous experiences with Power Monkey; though it’s been a few years since her last one.
Arriving on Saturday evening meant being there for almost a full day before the campers would arrive. A very nice opportunity to see some of the behind the scenes in terms of set up, preparation, organization, communication, planning, and more than anything, love, that the people here put into what they do.
I saw some old familiar faces, and met many new ones, during dinner on Saturday night and breakfast on Sunday morning. In particular it was great to catch up with Dave Newman and Chris Hinshaw, get a workout in with Sakamoto and Margaux Alvarez, and meet my roommate Vic Pellegrino, owner of Victory Grips. I’ve met Vic before, but never had the chance to get to know him. I’m glad I have now as he is both a very kind man, but also a brilliant mind.
I believe there will be many more people to highlight and celebrate this week than I’ll fairly be able to do…but I’ll do my best.
Day 1: (Sunday Afternoon and Evening)
Campers are set to arrive in the mid afternoon.
Following lunch there’s a meeting led by Dave Durante setting the stage for the day. Things are getting both serious and exciting.
Prior to the arrival of the bus carrying most of the campers, a few show up early, on their own. One of those is a familiar face, Adrian Bozman, alongside his wife Kim, who I am excited to meet. I didn’t know Bozman would be at the Camp this week, but it’s great to have them here and get a chance to see him in a different element than I’m used to, and one that I believe he thrives in. He’s a master of his craft and appreciates virtuosity as much as anyone I know; the staff here is full of professionals who embody that word as well.
The Bus Arrives
I had been hearing murmurs about the arrival procedure, and was certainly curious to see if it would live up to the hype. When Durante announced that they were pulling in staff and guests began creating a welcoming line outside the gym. I chose to blend into the line somewhere in the middle and pretended that I knew what was going on.
While I had more fun than I thought I would being part of the welcoming team, doling out hugs and high fives and welcomes and welcome backs…I must say I feel that I missed out slightly on the experience of being on the bus and arriving at camp for the first time.
The Walk Out
As all the campers got off the bus, were given their sleeping cabins, and made their way around the property to get settled in, staff and guests had another meeting to prepare for Introductions. There would be two lines, one for staff and guests, and the other for coaches. I was told to join the line of staff and guests along with Bozman, Sakamoto, Alvarez, and several dozen other people from a variety of walks of life. We were marched out to one side and it was our turn to get an ovation from the campers. The robustly impressive group of coaches followed suit. And filed into the other side of the gym. We were now creating half of a crude circle facing the campers who were sitting on the gymnastics mats.
Dave Durante took command (his confident presence as a leader once again being highlighted- a theme that would continue throughout many experiences this week). He did intros for all the staff and guests and then allowed the coaches to introduce themselves; there are a lot of them, each with an impressive resume which they were asked to condense to three key points (some did better than others at that).
There are a select few people who have been at every camp, one of whom is Dave Newman, owner of RX Smart Gear. Seeing as this is the 20th camp, Newman had something special planned for Durante- and we found out that despite being very caring and creative with this gesture, he could use some singing lessons (as could most of us).
Groups and Icebreakers
Having worked for an organization for nearly two years which hosts a majority of its participants for a week, the importance of having an opportunity for people to get comfortable, acquainted with each other, and have fun in a short amount of time (i.e. icebreakers) is very much appreciated by me.
Seeing as the campers will be divided into groups throughout the week for their various trainings, lessons, and activities, it makes sense to start with an icebreaker which:
- Puts you in those groups so you can start to get to know each other
- Rotate through quick, fun sessions to get face time with the coaches you’ll get to know more throughout the week.
I’m sure these vary somewhat from camp to camp and year to year, but the general idea and execution of it was very good. This particular time, I found the station led by Isiah and Jaime from XFit Lab to be particularly enjoyable.
Although not originally planned for Sunday night, Mike Malloy of M2 Performance Nutrition rose to the occasion on short notice to deliver a 90 minutes lecture on nutrition- from his point of view and his experience.
First of all, the man is an absolute wealth of knowledge having studied, read, consumed, and experimented with nutrition for a long time. In addition to that, he’s had a nearly countless number of clients than run the gamut in terms of goals and expectations. The challenge with knowing and experiencing so much is figuring out how to condense it into a digestible format in a short time period for a group of people who you have no real choice other than to make certain assumptions about. This challenge will continue to be relevant for the coaches at every station, lesson, and lecture throughout the week.
Malloy did an excellent job. For me personally, he echoed many of the sentiments I have come to believe in when it comes to diet and nutrition- but none more so than these two:
- Every person is different, and therefore their experience with nutrition is unique
- If it’s not a sustainable plan, it’s not a good plan (barring life threatening circumstances)
If you feel frustrated with nutrition, I’d encourage you to take a look at what Malloy is doing at M2; there’s likely a resource for you there that may unlock something beneficial in your pursuit of a healthy life.
As part of his lecture he mentioned the critical importance of sleep. However, seeing as there is a sleep specific lecture later in the week, he did not elaborate too much. I however, gladly heeded the advice and retired shortly after the lecture concluded in pursuit of a good night sleep.
VO2 Max Testing
The last stop for the day before that sleep was to observe Dr. Mike Pavlak take the VO2 Max test administered by XFit Lab. It was cool to watch him do it, but the experience was amplified by Chris Hinshaw talking over the experience. Hinshaw is well known for his expertise in aerobic capacity training and teaching, but he specifically mentioned that Isiah is the best at what he does when it comes to this testing. Now that I’ve learned about the value in gathering this data, it seems like I have to do it, right?
The first full day is Monday, check back after Tuesday for our next update.