Photo Credit: Power Monkey Fitness
This is a three part series about my experience Power Monkey Camp 20.
In case you missed part one: find it here.
Day 2 (Monday)
Monday and Tuesday will follow a very similar cadence in terms of the structure of camp:
- Optional activities including yoga in the morning
- Station 1
- Station 2
- Free Time / Optional Activities including Rope Course and Contrast Therapy
- Station 3
- Small Free Time
- Lecture or Demonstration
- Optional Campfire Stories
The structured day starts with breakfast at either 7 or 7:30 and ends around 9 pm (unless you go to the Campfire, then it ends around 10 pm).
Rosie Jo Meals
Each day includes three excellent meals courtesy of Rosie Jo Meals. And I don’t say excellent lightly. These meals are varied and healthy and sufficient for providing the fuel needed to get through the days. For a camp experience which prides itself on excellence in the realm of teaching about optimal movement and development of a well rounded athlete, it is imperative to fuel the body and brain accordingly; PMC and Rosei Jo check that box three times a day.
I’ll say a little more about the sleep lecture at the end of Tuesday, but the fact that the opportunity for eight solid hours of sleep exists for those who want it is another very encouraging part of the structure. A lot happens during the days here, as you’re about to discover; being given a chance to sleep and not feel like you’re missing anything by doing so is a refreshing part of the camp experience. There are many activities within the realm of the CrossFit community that unfortunately don’t account for that enough- another box checked emphatically by the PMC organizers.
There’s a natural flow for the stations, but depending on your group number, you will start in a different place. For example, I am in group two and we are starting our first of ten rotations with the Jerk. Group 1 started on Bar, which will be our last station, they will then follow behind us for every station the remainder of the week. Group 3 started on rowing, and we will follow them for the rest of the week. Every station is 2 hours long. By day there will be 3/3/2/2 (there is also an optional trip to Mayhem for a mystery session on Wednesday morning, and a workout and/or programming lecture led by Jason Leydon on Thursday morning.
What Happens at the Stations
Most of the stations, the instructors are world class in their discipline and have very high level achievements either competing, coaching, or both.
If I were to offer a general outline of the structure of each station it would look something like this:
- Establish a baseline for what is going to happen.
- Offer a few reasons why we’re going to do certain things or things in a certain way.
- Start with the most fundamental positions or movements.
- Build towards the most dynamic or complex movements.
- Alternate between verbal instruction and physical demonstrations from the coaches and opportunities for campers to practice the movements or skills being explained and shown.
The group I was a part of served as a great microcosm for the camp as a whole. What I mean by that is that we had a wide range of experience, age, capability, and goals. Nearly all of the stations did an extremely impressive job delivering relevant content and valuable instruction for each camper, regardless of where they fell on any of those scales.
For each station I’m going to give either a small overview of what we did, or more likely, one or two of the biggest takeaways or key moments for me personally.
Station 1: the Jerk
The biggest lesson I got from this is that my hips are tight when it comes to internal rotation and therefore what I think my feet are doing in both the set up (for any overhead pressing movement) and the receiving position of the split jerk specifically, are not false perceptions compared to what’s actually happening.
That’s a bit sad since I have tried so hard to work on my hip mobility, but it’s my reality. So, continuing the work it is.
Station 2: Rowing
Lindsay Shoop had this station by herself, and while she’s a worldclass rower with as much instructional knowledge as any rowing teacher I’ve been around (and I’ve been around some good ones), a general takeaway I noticed throughout the weeks is that two coaches are better than one no matter who the person teaching is.
She went through many drill that I’m familiar with and have coached, but two key things I walked away with were:
- Getting the hip bones far back in the seat to begin with. A basic and fundamental positioning cue that after 10 years I have now heard and seen explained clearly for the first time.
- Engaging the legs at the catch position in a very specific way using a tool and then a drill I had also not previously seen.
Both of these will contribute to the ability to get as much out of your legs on each stroke as possible, which is something every rower should be striving to do.
Station 3: Handstands
Dave Durante himself taught this one. The second coach there was Rupert Egan. As a duo they were very good providing visual, audible, and tactile cues which ultimately left my entire mid and upper back feeling the use of muscles that have likely not been doing their jobs for far too long.
The coolest thing about this station is that besides demonstrating the most mastery of handstands you will ever see, Dave provided very practical and approachable drills for all skill levels. I will absolutely be starting with some of the basics here as this is a massive area of deficiency for me. But the fact that he could provide a realistic and achievable starting point, and check marks, for something that at the highest level is so daunting to me, is what world class coaching is all about.
Evening Activities: Breakdancing Exhibition
What a gift to be able to watch Miguel and his son break dance for us that evening. Breakdancing will be at the 2024 Paris Olympics, and it looks like there is a high likelihood Miguel will be representing team USA. Time will tell, but what an honor to be able to not just watch what he could do, but see the influence he’s had on his incredibly talented son too.
One of the reasons Miguel wanted to do this at Power Monkey Camp is because it’s important to him to put his son in environments around people who he believes are good role models. Power Monkey Camp is a great choice Miguel. Very impressed by you as a dancer, a father, and a dreamer. He spoke about some of his goals, which are lofty, but he strikes me as a man who will find a way to make them happen.
Campfire Stories Night 1: Annie Sakamoto
I have had the pleasure of working with Annie on several occasions dating all the way back to the 2018 CrossFit Games. I’ve also through my studying and consumption of the CrossFit sport and methodology learned about her as an athlete, coach, and as one of the original fire breathers.
I wasn’t sure how much new information I would learn from her (and I did learn some things by the way), but I knew her personality and charisma would make the stories she would share come to life- which they absolutely did.
Chad Vaugn opened the conversation and then facilitated a back and forth Q and A with her that touched on all the key components of her experience and contribution to the CrossFit space since she first walked into the original CrossFit gym in Santa Cruz in 2004.
Day 3 (Tuesday)
Station 4: Clean
One of the more well known coaches at Power Monkey, Chad Vaughn had this station solo; definitely a challenge.
He began the station by challenging my perspective and experience when it comes to Olympic weightlifting- specifically as it pertains to certain positions. However, I was and am committed to approaching each station completely free of preconceived notions; I want to give myself the best chance to soak in their expertise which is built upon infinitely more time in the discipline than my own.
To be specific he wants me to narrow my starting stance, widen my starting grip, and have a higher contact point. I did my best to do all three and believe progress was made. I intend to continue trying to apply these lessons going forward.
Station 5: Aerobic
Hinshaw has now coached 18 of these, and he makes a commitment to change them each time, sometimes in minor and sometimes in major ways. The lesson was thorough without being overly complex. His analogies to real life and real world scenarios made sense. His expertise in his discipline was on full display.
I was able to witness him evaluate several challenging athletes in real time, including me, as he worked with us to give us a tangible takeaway- our natural breathing cadence- which can be applied to our now clear understanding of zone 2 work (if we do the VO2 Max test).
Station 6: Rings
Along with strict handstand push-ups, strict ring muscle-ups are something I have shown little to no progress in for a very long time. This station was taught by Duke Van Vleet and Emily Bridgers and as a duo they were very much in sync in the overall delivery and presentation of their station.
The goals of our group when it comes to rings were as varied as could be. The smiles on the faces of my group members as they did things they’ve never done before are not images I will soon forget. And, despite my frustration with the lack of progress I continue to struggle with on the strict ring muscle up. In one instant, after watching one time, with one reminder, Duke was able to fix my kipping muscle ups. And not just fix them, really improve them to a point I don’t know if they’ve ever been at before. Once again the difference between the level one and true masters of their craft is on display at PMC 20 in this regard.
Six stations down, four to go. But also the trip to Mayhem and a programming lesson from Leydon. Not to mention the evening lectures, break out groups, and who knows what else).
Between stations five and six our group had a chance to do the ropes course. I haven’t done one in a long time, and while I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of heights, I certainly have some apprehension. It was important to me that I do this from a mental standpoint; so I did. The course was fun, and culminated with a rope swing out over the lake which is always a rush and then such a freeing feeling.
I really liked the approach they took to this. Each of the major hot topics surrounding sleep were touched on, but none of them in too much depth. Addressing so many people about such a critical topic for both health and performance can be daunting. Doing so in this way makes sure to give at least a small dose of what every person wants without going on and on about any one topic that surely some will not have much interest in.
Since it is still relatively earlier in the week, and both doctors are very much available, I believe there will be plenty of people who seek them out for further discussion about the points which interest them most. And that is something that every coach, at every station, and after every lecture, has reiterated. These coaches really are here for the campers, athletes, and inquiring minds. They ask to be taken advantage of in that regard, and it seems that they genuinely mean it. I’m not sure what the vetting process is to find so many people like that, but it is very impressive that they have done so.
Two more days of camp for me; which will be documented in part three of three.