Team Survivor Fitness Class

This was week three of the winter eight-week session. We’re hoping to have most of the women be able to do at least one unassisted pull-up and “toes” push-up by week 8. Tonight as part of the progression to pull-ups, we used rope pulls. I think when a person can stand on the ground and reach face-height or higher and pull on a rope, it’s a particularly good way to feel clearly when the lats and shoulders are engaged and solid. It’s harder to describe and internalize in the push-up position, and with assisted pull-ups on a bar, I think people get so excited or nervous about being on a pull-up bar that it’s harder to tune into the shoulder engagement. Another good thing about rope pulls is that the hands are so close together that it is almost like the arms (actually lats) pull “as one,” and you can really feel the pull coming from the lats.
People in tonight’s class were jumping up with high hands and then controlling their descent, or putting their hands at face height, picking their feet up slightly, and again controlling their descent with assistance from their feet if needed. When people reached the bottom position where their arms were straight, we asked them to pull as if they had just finished a pull-up and were about to start another one. If they’re really ever going to do a pull-up, which a lot of them will, they are already learning to pull right from the bottom, the hardest part. In fact, most fit guys who do pull-ups routinely don’t go all the way down to straight arms and don’t realize it. It’s natural to take a shortcut when what you’re doing is still going to be hard. You don’t usually get away with that in a CrossFit class though.
Dave told me something really useful today after the class, which was: to make a really good class that’s informative and makes people feel like they got a good value, do the same thing as when writing or giving a talk– tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. In this setting, that means each class has a purpose, one or two things we’re trying to communicate and have them take away with them, besides just a good sweaty workout. I will definitely remember that. Tonight I kept returning to the theme of engaging the shoulders to keep them solid, in different directions, such as the push-up, pull-up (rope pull), and dips. (We did some bench dips tonight.) And I would point out that this was a recurring theme. But next time I’ll think more in advance about what is the takeaway for the night and what we are trying to accomplish, and communicate that in a more complete way.
I find it both fun and nerve-wracking to learn “on the job.” It is really the best way. Plus all the reading and studying I’ve been doing (these two books so far).