Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Public Body: Work Hard Play Hard Weekend

Elle: This summer I signed up for Public Body - a bootcamp-style class in the South End, sponsored by SEAC. Every Wednesday we would spend an hour in a different park, sweating our butts off doing cross-training and strength work. It was challenging and fun. And the group was great. Chad Flahive, the creator of Public Body decided it would be a good idea to have a fall weekend - 3 days of workouts in a row. In Provincetown. That sounded like a dream mini-vaca to me!
It was tough to find an affordable place to stay in Ptown, even in the fall season. But luckily I found the Sunset Inn, a B&B right near the center of town. It offered free parking, got good reviews on, and when I called, the owner was very nice, so I booked right away.

Webb: I took the day off from work (which basically meant I worked from home) to finish my packing and make sure I picked Elle up right at 5:00PM for our drive to Ptown. It has been several years since we drove to Cape Cod. In the summer it can take 3 hours to get to Ptown for what should be a 2:15-2:30 drive. We weren't sure about early fall, so we tried to give ourselves time. We almost made it. It took nearly 3 hours.

Elle: The traffic getting out there was tough, so by the time we arrived, we were running late. We checked in, quickly changed into our workout clothes, and ran down Commercial street to make it to the 1st workout of the weekend.

We walked onto the dance floor space that the Crown & Anchor was letting us use as a temp gym studio. Chad announced that I was the only woman there for the weekend. I looked around, and indeed, not another woman in sight. Good? Bad? I didn't care, I was just excited to be there. And the first workout of the weekend was on! Andy, Chad's co-conspirator, led us through what he described as an elongated 'warm-up', not too hard, but enough to get a sweat on, that's for sure.

Webb: Um, I got a sweat on. In fact, I was fairly disgusting.

Elle: After sweating for almost a solid hour, most of the group went out for dinner. We didn't stay up too late though, we had a big day ahead of us.

SATURDAY: From A to B.
A is for amphitheatre, B is for beach

Webb: Saturday's itinerary was a doozy.
We met at 9:30am at the bike rental shop for a nice little ride on paved paths among the dunes. First stop: repeat Friday nights warm-up tutorial. You know the one that had me sweating all over the dance floor without all the boom-boom-boom and lights? Second stop: The amphitheatre. If you don't know what it is, it is an architectural marvel in acoustics that allows people all the way in the back row to hear your whimpering during the workout. It is pretty incredible. Then a return trip on the bikes for a lunch and then a beach workout.

Elle: Earlier that week Chad had us email him our height so the bikes were all ready for us when we got there. Sweet! The hybrid bikes had the biggest, cushiest seats I've ever placed my butt on, quite a departure from the bikes we own! Biking amongst the dunes, along the ocean was truly awesome - if you could have taken a snapshot of my face, I would have had the goofiest smile. I was in heaven. We did a 'warm-up' workout in the beach parking lot, then back on the bikes for a rolling ride through the beach dunes, it was fantastic.

Webb: After our warm-up, we headed to the amphitheatre for a workout I like to call "Sweet Mother Of All That Is Good And Clean On Earth what has Elle got me into?" First we did something Chad likes to call accumulators.  I like to call them "Chad is a Sadist." I'm not going to try to describe them. Here is all you need to know: we did a continually increasing series of structured exercises using body-weight, elasto-bands and plyometrics. Once we accumulated massive fatigue, we descended those same interval sets. [Insert expletive here.]

Breaking down the Push-up
Andy then led us through a workout that utilized the stadium style benches to focus more on form and function. The attention was primarily on how to perform movements and, perhaps most importantly, why we were doing them. For instance, we did push-ups where we broke down the movement and focused on joint movement and safety. Among the other exercises were single-leg squats and explosive  step-ups.

We also did some friendly group competition. Chad divided the group in half and sent us to either the left or right side of the amphitheatre. Each race was two minutes long. The first had us running to the top while snaking among the benches, then descending on our hands and feet in a prone position (spider-walking?) down the benches. The second race had us shuffle laterally, butts down/heads up, again winding our way down the rows, and then once again descending the benches on our hands and feet, only this time in a supine position (crab-walking?). In each race, our goal was to complete as many laps as possible.

Elle: After a pretty tough workout at the amphitheatre, it was back on the bikes to head into town. I'll be honest, I was glad that workout was over!

Is this how spiders walk?
We all rode back to the Crown and Anchor, just in time for lunch and another workout, this time on the beach. By now we were pretty sapped. But Chad and Andy had us working hard in the sand. And to top it off, we had a chorus of random people on the beach watching, laughing at us/cheering us on.

Webb:  The beach workout was ridiculous. Once again we started with our warm-up doing some dynamic movements to prepare our bodies for the work ahead. We added some other exercises like inchworms and moving laterally in push-up position with elasto-bands around our wrists. If that didn't make sense to you, it made less sense to me while I was doing it. After that we did some partner-based workouts and then the punishment came. We finished with a three exercise, three-round set with descending reps each round. I barely survived. I think I was the last one done.

Drop it!
Oh wait, we weren't done. We then did a short ab workout featuring sit-ups and planks. Yay! <grumble, grumble> And just when we thought we were finally done, we still weren't done. Chad had a little competition for us. He was going to buy drinks for the person who could hold a plank (in push-up position, not forearms) the longest. I was tapped. There was no way I was going to win drinks. In no time we were all up and going to our very own quiet places. I focused on my breathing and contracting different muscle groups to attempt to rest some while activating others. I was shaken from my focus by my shaking legs and arms. Several seconds later I crashed into the sand, apparently in third place a half-second before second place. I laid there for a moment with sand in my mouth knowing I was done, even if we weren't finished.

Elle: Finally all the Saturday workouts were done. We all went to our respective accomodations, showered, and met back at the C&A for dinner. Which was followed by drinking and dancing in Ptown. Perhaps too much. That's all I have to say about that...

SUNDAY: Just can't get enough

Webb: I can't say I slept very well Saturday night. Every time I rolled in my sleep the soreness in my lats, shoulders and chest would wake me for a moment. So much for a delayed onset. I awoke a little more than hour before our first workout. I forced myself out of bed to get some blood flowing. Everything hurt. Everything. With each small step around our room, I felt a little more flexible. Mentally, I didn't know where I was going to find the motivation for the next workout. Knowing there was a group of people waiting for us was my sole motivation.

Post Sunday morning circuit
We arrived at the C&A to see implements of self-torture ringing the dance floor. I think there were nine stations. My memory is more than a bit blurry on this experience. At each station we had two exercises to do for 90 seconds each, twice: A, B, A, B. After a quick warm-up, we each picked a station and awaited the go signal from Chad. It was a total body onslaught: burpees, push-ups, arnold presses, multi-planar lunges, speed skaters, bicep curls, squat jumps, split squat jumps, side squats with elasto-bads, medicine ball toss, foot fire, etc. ad nauseum.

Elle: The Sunday morning workout was b-r-u-t-a-l. I've never drank so much of my own sweat. But no rest for the wicked! After a short break, it was back out to the beach for another hour technical session with Andy on form with some kettle bell work thrown in.

Elle working on her posterior chain
Webb:  I couldn't believe we were headed back out to the beach for more work. Thankfully it was to be less of a workout and more of a technique session. Andy put on a clinic on muscle engagement. Once again we would do an exercise and then break it down into its parts, engaging each muscle group at the appropriate time. One of the exercises involved the squat-to-press movement. Using medicine balls, allowed us to feel the energy moving from glutes through the hip drive, up through the torso and shoulder to fire the ball up.

From there we moved on to a short introduction on kettlebells. I have used KBs in the past, without any instruction. I've had enough experience with strength training to understand the movement of KB swings and to know that I really needed proper instruction. Andy taught us the fundamentals by starting at the bottom and working us through the movement bit by bit. The fun part was when we began flinging the KBs up and out. Just like with the medicine balls, it was less about trying to fling them and more about driving with your glutes and simply letting go. If done correctly, the hip drive will do the work for you. I can't imagine a better way to end the weekend. Actually, yes I can. Later Andy and I hit the foam rollers. Ahhhhh ...

Elle:  It was especially good for me, considering my knee injury and form issues. The fun part was flinging the kettle bells onto the sand.

And then the 'Work Hard Play Hard' weekend workouts came to an end. I was glad, due to the intense soreness all over my body, but sad too. It had been so fun. We all ate lunch together by the pool, and sat around, chatting. The sun was out and oddly strong - we were in shorts. I even got a light sunburn! I give this weekend an A+.

Webb: I'm looking forward to another instalment of Public Body. Both Chad and Andy clearly know what they are doing and bring a lot of energy. There is no question their love of fitness is infectious, which is critical for Sunday mornings after they have kicked the crap out of you. And of course, this review would not be complete without showering our fellow Public Body people with compliments. All the guys were fantastic people. We all came with different levels of fitness and different goals and we all had a blast together. I think all the triathlon clubs should contact Chad about doing a fitness camp. It doesn't need to be triathlon-focused because you will get fit and it will bring your teams closer together.

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