Training with Fifth Ape – Part Two

I had another great session with Colin from Fifth Ape, only this time we were in the Forest Theater at UNC, rather than the gym. (Read more about my first session here)

I think the Forest Theater is so awesome, it makes me feel like I’m in an ancient Roman colosseum or something. Definitely a really cool place to do your exercise. I highly recommend it for anyone in the Chapel Hill area!

THIS... IS... UNC?

Colin had me warm up with various light plyometrics: butt kickers, high knees, then A skips, B skips, and C skips. I have no idea how to explain what these different types of skips are in writing, so here is a helpful video from an extremely chipper young lady explaining how to skip around like an Easter Bunny in proper form.

After warming up, we moved on to hip hinging, first with a stick to check my patterning. This means that I held a stick against my back and my head in order to keep my spine straight as I hinged my hips back. Not as easy as it sounds, but definitely a good practice tool. Then we did Russian kettlebell swings. Not the typical Crossfit swing-the-bell-overhead style, but apparently the more ‘proper’ way to swing a kettlebell. (Colin isn’t anti-Crossfit officially, but there are a few things he doesn’t agree with.) The goal for practicing KB swings this way is to groove good form for solid landings and eccentric loading as well as powerful hip extension for good jumping. Or so I’ve been told.

 

This is how you do it!

Next was Turkish Get-Ups, which Colin says are great for developing overall strength and stability. I’ve seen the Turkish Get-Up done before, but I’d never tried it myself. It’s really important to have someone experienced teach you how to do a complicated movement such as this, because I feel like getting the form right is really essential to doing the movement properly. Plus, it’s really great to have someone look at you doing it and tell you whether or not you’re performing the movement correctly, and offer a critical eye to help tweak your body positioning. After a few rounds without weight, we did a couple of reps with a 6kg kettlebell. Not that heavy, but a good weight to practice with, since the dynamics of the movement definitely change when weight is involved.

If you want a review of good Turkish Get-Up form, check out Colin’s helpful video:

Next we did some locomotive skills going over a waist-height wall, starting with two foot punching to waist position, then getting a foot planted and executing a sit-out. Because I am the most clumsy person on earth, I almost bit it a few times… but it was good to practice, because I definitely need to work on agility in that matter.

Then we moved on to hurdle step takeoffs and Colin helped me smooth out the motion into more of a speed vault over the wall. This exercise for me is definitely more of a mind-over-matter thing, because I know I get really nervous jumping over things. I don’t have the best track record with that kind of stuff, and it makes me really nervous. That’s probably a big reason why Colin makes me do it. Stretch my personal boundaries ‘n all that.

This is what it's supposed to look like.

Finally, we did a brief intro to jumps and precision landings.  Colin talked about the difference between our ideal hip hinge landing and the precision landing, He had me work on getting the balls of my feet to hit the target and then “cannonball” down, keeping the knees from squirting forward too far forward, relaxing into the landing and keeping my eyes locked on our landing target. I was surprisingly nervous about doing it, even though I was jumping onto a piece of wood surrounded by soft sand. No reason to be scared of that whatsoever, but something about ‘precision landing’ just doesn’t sound like one of my skill sets. But, again, this is why Colin is training me!

Becky is much better at this sort of thing.

It was great to have Colin watching my movements and picking out things that I was doing less efficiently (or just plain wrong) and helping me to fix my movements in order to be working the right muscle groups and doing things in the most natural way possible. It’s a pretty cool and different way of working out, that’s for sure. And so much more fun than slogging away on the elliptical machine! (Which Colin has banned me from. For life.)

Next time? Squats and deadlifts!

  • Brad

    This stuff all looks like it could be fun, but it looks more like skill training than strict/intense exercise. I think you could get similar effects of overall fitness, balance, calorie “burning”, cardio effect, etc. from playing soccer, ultimate frisbee, and various other things. What is the ultimate goal of this type of training? Surely it’s not building muscle so is it burning calories?

    • Laura

      I think the goal of what we did in the second session was more agility and movement work, rather than trying to build power or burn calories. I’m not really that graceful, so its good for me to learn drills to incorporate into my training to build my coordination. That said, the next session will be squats and dead lifts to determine my one-rep-max, so that will be a strength day for sure. I think Colin is just setting me up with a bunch of different skills to work on for the ultimate cross training effect.

      • Brad

        I know these kinds of things are *very* popular esp with the crossfit crowd, but I’m not a big fan of doing these things for exercise. For fun, OK. But not exercise. Free-weight squats and deadlifts have a higher risk of injury compared to using machines, so I’m not a big fan of those either. I find using machines allows me to focus more on the intensity of the exercise without having to worry about dropping the weight. Also machines allow you to go to *true* muscle failure without the need for a spotter, which I think is a big plus. I agree with the notion that the most important thing in exercise is the intensity level, not the duration/volume.

        • Brad

          OK, some caveats… Improving one’s coordination, balance, etc., is a good thing if you’re an athlete trying to improve your performance/sport. Or maybe also if you’re not a competitive athlete but you just want to improve performance of some functionally related recreational activity.

          • Brad

            I was looking at the website… Parkour? C’mon, who is going to do this besides the young crowd? I can hardly think of something harder on the joints, ligaments, and having more risk of injury. Why not just play basketball or something else that requires running an jumping? The risk of an ankle twist or other injury is prob about the same. Sorry if I’m being so critical, but learning how to jump over a wall or how to roll when you fall is not something that is likely to help you live a longer, healthier life. OK, maybe I could think of a few – like learning how to fall when your frequent trail running can lead to a trip over a root or something. I get the whole ancestral movements, functional movements thing. But we no longer need to hunt for our food or construct our own shelters from stones and logs. And we now have much more efficient and safer means of exercise. Again, do these things for fun if you like. But don’t do them as a means of exercise. They’re not worth the time and inherent risk. That’s my overly-critical opinion :)

          • Laura

            People do Parkour because they find it fun. I’m not going to be jumping off walls or anything because that wouldn’t be fun for me. But I don’t find basketball, soccer, or frisbee very fun either. Hence why I don’t participate in those sports.
            The point of training with Colin is to try doing some physical activities that are both tailored to my goals, not overly exhausting or strenuous, and generally beneficial skills for an active person. He’s writing a program for me that will incorporate strength, agility, endurance, flexibility, and mobility, and he’s making sure I learn proper form. I think that’s a pretty good way to maximize your general fitness, if you ask me.

          • Brad

            If your idea to achieve “general fitness” is to avoid exhausting or strenuous exercise then you may eventually learn some movement skills and become more flexible and coordinated but you will never be truly fit in the sense of reaching anything near your genetic potential. One’s level of fitness attained is directly proportional to the level of intensity provided. This is the reason why most people usually fail to achieve significant fitness results. They do not exercise with anywhere near sufficient intensity.