Team Survivor Fitness Class: Pull-ups with a Smile

Last night’s women’s class was especially fun even though turnout was a bit small. Maybe we had 15 to 18 people instead of 21 or so.
The exercises Dave had them work on were: jump rope to warm up; learn and practice wallball; pull-ups assisted with rubberbands and spotters; the kipping motion with hands on pull-up bar and feet on bench; and the hollow rock. He asked me to teach them wallball, and that was a fun opportunity. Hold the ball in front of your face and go down into a low squat with it; spring straight up with the legs/hips, and fling the ball up at the target, 8 to 10 feet up on the wall. (“Fling,” that’s a technical term.) Catch the ball in front of your face and carry it down into the squat, ideally without stopping, and extend the hips to jump up and fling it again. If you catch it wrong or drop it, pick it up and go back into the starting squat position.
The women did great with wallball, and it’s an easy exercise to coach because mistakes tend to be obvious and not dangerous: not using the legs for the throw but standing up with the ball and then throwing it, or tiring yourself out by catching the ball, dropping it down, then lifting it again for the next throw, instead of descending into a squat with the ball near the face.
For pull-ups, we attached the big rubberbands (made for this type of use) to the pull-up bar and lined up benches underneath. What you do is grasp the bar and put either or both feet into the rubberband, stretch it out by extending your legs, tighten the shoulders for stabilization, and start pulling; the rubberband helps you up. Dave explained this and then asked, “Who thinks this arrangement looks pretty sketchy?” With one or two spotters, everyone was able to get safely onto a bench, into the rubberband, and do pull-ups with smiling faces. A few women could do them without a spotter, including one lady who may be in her late 50s and is small and white haired. I loved seeing that.
Before putting away the benches, Dave had everyone practice a sort of precursor to the kipping move that we often use for pull-ups. Without the rubberbands, they stood on the bench and grasped the bar, tightened the shoulders and leaned forward, as if to swing, chest out, hips open, keeping the feet on the bench. Flexing the shoulders forward with straight arms, they arched back the other way for a concave front. I am not sure this felt very much like actual kipping, as it was slow and deliberate instead of explosive and whiplike, but it is very applicable because both versions emphasize shoulder engagement and hip extension.
I think the reason the assisted pull-ups and practice kips went so smoothly is Dave’s use of progressions. He has already had them grasp a bar at eye level, sink down, and learn to engage or tighten the shoulders by pulling the lats down. In that same class they also practiced doing a negative pull-up by letting themselves down slowly with shoulders engaged, and then standing up again.