Power Monkey Camp – Day 5

So Vic McQuaide gave me some tips on my double-unders…

While my training age might have shown itself earlier this week, my true age finally kicked in. I woke up tire and sore.

Thankfully, we had the morning off. Unfortunately, my internal alarm clock still woke me up before 7am, but I happily stayed in my twin-sized bunk bed until around 8am before grabbing my umpteenth banana from the canteen.

I made my way over to open gym and started things off with some leisurely improvised yoga and stretching.

Then I grabbed Coach Ryann, who rowed on the women’s team at Yale, for some one-on-one training.

She helped correct my shoulder and arm position in the back of my stroke. And though a subtle change, she also helped move where I was strapping in my feet so that it was where my toes meet my foot rather than further up on my laces.

Afterwards, Coach Shane Gerraghty, who is the camp co-director and a stuntman in Hollywood, was leading some other campers through handstand practice.

I was invited to join and others followed foot. A great tweak that he made was recommending that we start the handstand from standing with our arms and body in the position that they should ideally be when we are upside down.

He also had us take a big lunge forward to start it off. Both tips helped a lot.

A brunch of scrambled eggs, bacon, guacamole and sweet potato hash was well received by all before starting our afternoon sessions.

I grabbed a second full serving, as I have done at most meals this week, as I know I need to eat more. I realized I should have been insisting on bigger portions all week as I am so skinny compared to most of the other guys.

Put me next to Ron Ortiz and I look like a comic strip weakling.


We kicked things off in the afternoon with Coach Duke Van Vleet, a former U.S. National Gymnastics team member and Cirque Du Soleil performer.

The guy is strong as hell. He led us through some warm-up using therabands to help with our shoulder mobility. We then worked through pull-ups, toes-to-bar and bar muscle-ups.

One of the main takeaways was how a gymnastics swing could help with our kipping. Also, that a lesson to be learned from gymnasts is that you perfect all strict movements before adding activity.

It’s no wonder a gymnast can crank out butterfly pull-ups or string sets of kipping chest-to-bars.

I had a chance to quickly chat one-on-one with Duke. I asked him about building grip strength and he said nothing beats hanging from the bar.

He suggested even doing it as a Tabata. Also, to my chagrin, he said ditch the gloves. I’ve been told that before, but hearing it from someone as talented on the bar as Duke might have finally convinced me.


Our last organized training session of camp was with Dave Newman, the owner of Rx SmartGear. Here’s a guy who knows ropes.

He’s also the guy I saw working one-on-one with Amanda Allen, the back-to-back CrossFit Games Masters Champion, at camp.

I definitely was ready to pay attention. Our focus was on three key elements of a successful double-under: 1) bounding; 2) rotation; and 3) timing.

We did lots of drills to help with all three. Dave also showed how to better set-up and pick up the rope more quickly and efficiently, especially in a competition.

And as a counterpoint, how to stop the rope and not just throw it out of the way like most of us do in the middle of a met con, which wastes time if we have to pick the rope up again.

My coaches back home would not be surprised to hear that Dave, and even Games Athlete Vic McQuaide who was in the session with me, told me I need to slow down.

We also worked on how I was flicking my wrists and how to correct that.

I have a lot to practice when I get home. But camp is not over just yet. Tomorrow is competition day!

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