I’ve participated in many competitive sports for most of my life and Jason Dolby of the Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC) is the BEST coach I have ever had. After the IKFF Nationals in November (2012), I was super fired up after hitting a 19rep personal best in the 16kg long cycle (83 reps from a previous 64reps in training) and so was Jason. The best part of that p.r was that we had achieved that outcome solely from working together on-line. It had been almost 2 years since I first met him and participated in an OKC workshop and I had had very little instruction since. But I followed the google docs he sent me to the letter, and occasionally sent him videos that he would critique and give me feedback. After Novi, Jason had mumbled something along the lines of “imagine what we could achieve face to face if we did this well on-line.” From that moment on, the wheels in my head were turning. So, in the interests of being the best kettlebell lifter I can be, I approached Jason and asked him about the possibility of training with him during my March Break. I knew the hands-on coaching was only going to make me better as I knew there were some pieces to understanding the sport that can’t be communicated on-line. Some athletes make the trip to Russia, but I knew that I did not need to travel that far. Lucky for me Jason is the most fair and generous person out there and so I hired him for the week. This entry is a recap of the best March Break I have ever had, as well as a HUGE turning point in my development as a kettlebell lifter.
“If we don’t change we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.” – Gail Mike Sheehy
Let’s face it, I like security. I thrive off routine (no surprise I am a teacher and probably derive success at it because of the security and stability I give to my students which is often more then they receive at home). Taking the pilgrimage to Manhattan Beach was an epic experience that helped me push through other extraneous things not related to kettlebell. I hate flying, and travelling alone I generally find a little scary. The stress of being in another country and driving, meeting new people, and establishing a new routine all are enough to upset my autistic/ocd tendencies and stress me out. And ofcourse, leaving my husband and dog for the week to live with my coach is not something many married couples would do. Luckily I have the best husband in the world who trusts me completely and allows me to pursue the things I need and want to pursue for my own personal growth, which is what makes our relationship so strong. He was a super dude and picked up the slack and looked after everything on the home front while I was off on my kettle camp adventure. I sure love him to pieces! 🙂 So part of this trip was to continue to role model for my students that it is good to take risks even when you are afraid, and continually put yourself in uncomfortable situations and temporarily remove the security blanket.
DAY 1 – Monday, March 11th
Jason picked me up at the airport around 12:30pm and we immediately went to get something to eat because I was STARVING! We hit one of his favourite hangouts – The Corner Bakery where I had a wicked Anaheim egg scrambler and a wicked cup of coffee. On a side note – I am UBER sensitive to caffeine….and I feel it physically. I begin talking faster and my heart races and I feel like I need to sprint some stadium stairs to calm down. My week in Cali I drank more coffee then I ever have in my life…it was pretty awesome.
For our workout on this day I worked out first, and then Jason did his workout. I love having a coach who still competes, and from my years of playing competitive Ultimate frisbee it is something I am used to. What I am not used to is giving my coach feedback on his training….but this just shows you what an amazing coach I have. He does not hide his uncertainty behind professional distance, he is open to new ideas and constantly strives to improve himself and others. It was a great experience for me. When it was Jason’s turn to train he gave me 3 technique issues he wanted to focus his sets on and we agreed upon cue words I could use during his sets to help him self- correct .
16kg Long Cycle – 2 min 11rpm (1min right/1min left)
16kg Long Cycle – 2 min 11rpm (1min right/1min left)
14kg Long Cycle – 3 min (10,5reps) (1.5min right/1.5min left)
GPP – 3 sets of 2min of squatting rows
For my sets today I did 1 set in my old minimalist shoes and 2 sets in my new weight lifting shoes. My knee felt awesome in my new lifting shoes. Jason took notes on my sets and my most important issues are my breathing, and flaring my fingers open at the top of the jerk on my left side. Jason and I were going to review these notes but ran out of time.
DAY 2 – Tuesday, March 12th
Today I officially became a CHU-HU!!!!! It was the most amazing active recovery day I have ever had in my life. We started the day by going to the most amazing and beautiful spot – Malaga Cove. It’s a rocky coastal area right on the ocean. Here we did an Indian club workout which rocked. I have done a workshop with Jason before using the clubs and what was great about this session is he picked up from where I had left off and taught me more challenging movements that I definitely need more practice with before I can fully say they are apart of my repertoire. I took some video so that I can look back anytime I need to.
After Malaga Cove we stopped at a new coffee place (SUPER) close to Jason’s place that he had never been to before and I had the BEST Americano I had ever tasted. I was fired up and ready for anything.
In the late afternoon we met up with another fellow Chu-Hu – Cara Bella. This woman is awesome. Definitely one of my kettle kindred spirits. She took us to a yoga studio called Core Power for a hot yoga class. In Toronto I frequently do Bikram yoga once a week as an active recovery to help with my joint mobility and flexibility and so I wanted to try a class when I got to Cali. Jason was a real Chu-Hu and tried his first class with us. I loved the class, it was shorter then I was used to and we did an interesting variety of movements that are different from Bikram. I also made noticeable progress in a couple of movements that I have been working on in Bikram. I left feeling UHMAZING! After this we headed to Mitsuwa – a Japanese market place. Here we bought some Chu-Hi and ate the only (and best so far) pork ramen I have ever had. Both Cara and I were finally christened as official Chu-Hus after our first sip of Chu-Hi. We also bought some Chu-Hi to share with some other Chu-Hus we were having dinner with the next night.
In the evening Jason and I went over his notes from Monday, and began working on part of the GS long cycle breathing sequence for the swing and the clean. Initially I was super frustrated (and feeling nervous and anxious at learning something new) but eventually (with Jason’s patience) it started to click. Jason also noticed that I was shortening my backswing due to my head position. He placed a marker on the floor as a target for me to look at to keep from looking too far forward.
DAY 3 – Wednesday, March 13th
This is the AMAZING part of being in kettle camp where it is the only thing you have to focus on for a week. For some strange reason even though I didn’t have to get up early, I was awake at 6am every day. Usually I would use my roller ball, do some Indian clubs or…like today since I learned the new breathing sequence for the swing and clean I decided to go to the cave and use a really light bell to practice it overandover on each side. I actually woke Jason up to the sound of my rhythmic breathing. We then worked on my breathing for another hour.
Afterwards I rented a car and drove out to Newport Beach to visit my brother for the afternoon. It was awesome…first of all the adventure of trying to figure out where I was going since I had never been to his place before, and 2nd of all, negotiating around Cali drivers 🙂 I had a great visit with my brother. He showed me around his hood and took me to the Asics head office in Irvine. My brother is partially sponsored by Asics and needed to return some shoes. Since he is the best big brother in the whole world he bought me a new pair of running shoes and a kickass gym bag. For my whole life I have always known my brother to be sponsored by some athletic wear company (Nike, Adidas, Asics…) and he has always taken care of his little sister. I love that I am 41 and the tradition continues 🙂 After my visit with my brother I went back to the cave at 4:15pm for my training session with Dolby. I had relied on a GPS on my phone to get me to Newport Beach, and ofcourse on the way back to Dolby’s my phone died! A combination of using “the force” and a gas station attendant helped me make it back o.k. It was interesting because I could not find a payphone anywhere!
Back at Dolby’s I was met by Cara who was also going to be working out with me. After we worked out, Dolby worked out and again we helped count his reps and shout cues at him. Then another Chu-Hu Shermayne showed up for her workout….and the best part…. Corey (a.k.a Kettle Guy) came over to cook us all dinner.
3min long cycle 16kg @ 10rpm
6min long cycle 14kg @ 10rpm (alternate arms every minute)
GPP – 3 rounds of 1min breakers/1min rest
Cara and I alternated sets so during my working sets I only had as much rest as her set. It was great because it gave me the opportunity to study her breathing during the jerk portion of the long cycle which Jason hadn’t shown me yet. When it came to my turn Jason was super impressed and could tell what I was doing.
In the evening we had beer braised beef rib tacos with kale and acorn squash on corn tortillas that was literally to DIE for! It was sooooooo yummy! Corey is the best chef ever! He also made his signature bread pudding which was melt in your mouth awesome. I will never eat bread pudding again unless it is made by Corey. We also drank Chu-Hi and Sake and got a little loose. Pretty sweet stuff. I had such a great time and laughed so hard…I can’t remember the last time I pulled an abdominal muscle from laughing! We also had a touching sweet moment when Corey put Jason on the spot and asked him to share what he felt motivated each one of us. We then in turn got to have a Dolby-feel-good-moment and to tell our coach what we thought motivated him. It was super touching and sweet. Ofcourse Jason was bang on accurate with each of us. Btw…the photo really does not do the tacos justice, but I have placed it here as a reminder of how awesome it truly was.
Once everyone had left Dolby and I stayed up late discussing kettle philosophy and watched the Miyamoto Musashi Documentary which was INCREDIBLE!!! Talk about inspiration! Overall, an incredible day I will never forget.
DAY 4 – Thursday, March 14th
The morning started off amazing – leftover bread pudding and icecream with coffee for breakfast. Again I was up before Jason and went into the cave to practice my breathing technique with some light bells.
Today’s epic adventure – The Culver City stairs. These stairs are insane. I LOVE hill work. From my days as a cross country runner we used to frequently do hill repeats and it was always my favourite thing to do. I attacked these stairs with a badass attitude that kicked my lungs by the time I got to the top. I’m actually amazed I didn’t face plant. I was a little concerned because my knee was actually quite sore from yesterday. I had used my weight lifting shoes for all of my working sets and I think that might be why my knee wasn’t happy. Instead of walking down the stairs, I crab walked on my hands and feet the entire way down. It was AWESOME! There was a nice soft trail that ran alongside the stairs that no one used that was perfect for crab walking on. It took much longer to go down this way so I only did 2 repeats up and down.
Back at the cave Jason and I were goofing around and I took a picture of him mimicking me on the Culver city stairs – while holding a coffee…
DAY 5 – Friday, March 15th
On this day I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck. My knee was sore and a bit swollen and I was exhausted and feeling run down. I woke up and did some Indian clubs, mobility, and rolled around on my lacrosse ball. Dolby was super intuitive today and took it easy on me. We started working on my breathing during the jerk.
Jerk only – 1min on/1min off
4min using 12kg, 6 minutes using 14kg (focus on breathing – approx 10rpm)
These felt awesome. I wanted to do more which was a perfect way to end our session. What also helped my recovery today was walking around Pollywog park. This park is BEAUTIFUL! An amazing garden, huge open space and grassy areas and the most perfect trees for climbing, and fences for bear crawling on. Oh the workouts I could design! I was bummed that my arms were too exhausted to try any bear grylls. After the park I met Chu Lace – a super great kid who I can tell is quite brilliant – but also the most forgetful Chu Hu I think that will ever exist.
In the evening Jason and I went to a dinner party hosted by 2 of his clients – Jim and Suzie. They are a great couple and have a wonderful sense of humour. They also love food and fed us very well. We had grilled salmon, salad, lots of beverages (Myers rum – yum yum!) and yummy berries and whip cream for dessert. One of Suzie’s co-workers had recently been to Africa and gave us a slide show of her photos which were pretty incredible. The week has gone by way too quickly.
DAY 6 – Saturday, March 16th
My final day in Cali. It’s sad even as I type this now, back at home in Toronto. I had such a great time, it was so great getting to know my coach better and I learned so much about GS. The entire experience was invaluable. I am so grateful for having met the OKC. However, today Jason was an asshole and brought out the prowler…LOL! I was hoping he would have forgotten! We did 9X150m repeats. I wish we had done 10 but 9 definitely kicked my ass.
I started off trying to push the same weight as Jason, and being the super coach he is he knew better then to suggest I might want to go lighter. So after 2 rounds I scaled back the weight, and after 5 rounds I scaled it back a bit more. I could not believe the impact it has on your legs. My legs seriously blew up like balloons – rock hard balloons that is. Jason made a joke that my hamstrings and butt blew up like Ball Park Franks (which being Canadian I had never heard of and initially didn’t get the joke).
Once I looked in the mirror I quickly figured it out! I think I need to do more prowler work! It was awesome all of the strange looks we received and the number of people walking by who commented on how crazy we were.
On our last day Jason took me for a tour of his village, we went back to Pollywog park, and back at the cave I shot some more video of him doing some assistance drills he will be giving me in my programming. Here are some photos he took of me on his awesome new camera (and some pictures I took of him using his awesome new camera). While we were touring his village we went for some super tasty mexican food and walked along the pier by the beach. A sweet way to spend my last day, and great to stretch out the legs after the prowler madness!
THANK YOU TO MY COACH JASON DOLBY, AND MY TEAMMATES COREY, SHERMAYNE AND CARA FOR THE BEST TIME A CHUALA COULD ASK FOR!!!!