Crawling is Awesome!

I am currently training for an advanced kettlebell certification and my biannual recertification. My coach has integrated something very simple, yet unusual by current standards, into my training program —crawling.  Yes, crawling.  Something all of us have done, albeit a long time ago, when we were infants and toddlers. Something all of us, no matter our age or current fitness level, should be doing every day.

I have some observations on crawling after doing it as part of a dedicated training regime for the past several weeks. A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany on the awesomeness of crawling.

I have measured out the longest distance in the gym where I train – 15 yards. This is where I crawl. Interestingly, it is right behind the line of treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bicycles. So far, no one has stepped on or collided with me when they get off the machines.

On this particular day – my hard-core crawling day — I leopard crawled (on hands and feet, eyes looking forward, chest up and butt down).  Here’s what I did:

10 sets of 45 yard reps for a total of 450 yards

(1 rep is 15 yards forward + 15 yards backward + 15 yards forward without stopping.  In between reps I rest by walking forward + backward + forward the same distance.)

I did this in 24 minutes, which is equivalent to my current 5K PR (23:56—about 7:30 min/mi pace) set two years ago. So I crawled 450 yards (total)—a quarter mile—in the same amount of time it takes me to run a 5K. I can tell you that comparing the two activities, my body has worked harder (frankly it felt the equivalent of running over 5 miles instead of 3.1 miles). To me, the benefits of crawling far supersede those of running: my entire body is involved; by default I utilize/need more mental focus and it is apparent that my mind and body are working synergistically; my joints are used in a non-threatening, low-impact way; the level of conditioning of my cardiovascular system is at least as intense, but I recover quicker; and the best part, after I’m done when I take off my T-shirt I really look buff (no, I do not do that in the gym in front of everyone; it’s in the locker room before I shower).

Another thing I notice—I feel happy (elated is a bit more accurate) after I crawl like this. It’s different and a better more natural feeling than an “endorphin rush”. It’s a bit hard to describe, but I definitely have more mental and emotional fortitude to deal with the rest of the day at my “day job” in an office. Seriously, it’s a challenge to be sure, but I really enjoy crawling. It’s a classic “love/hate” thing that I really look forward to now.

In fact, I enjoy crawling so much that I have been doing it on my “rest” days. Last week I decided to see how far I could go without stopping. My goal was 150 yards. I was at home and it was an unusually lovely day for Washington, DC in July.

I crawled 160 yards without stopping! It wasn’t easy; in fact I would say that it was an all-out 10 out of 10 effort. After I passed the 100 yard mark my thighs were burning and I was breathing heavy, but thanks to my awesome wife, who gave me encouragement all along the way I pushed (crawled) through the physical and most important for me, mental hump and crawled another 60 yards until I stopped.

Crawling is awesome!


The Summit of Awesomeness

The Mister with the Masters

Mighty Melody and Karen

Last weekend we attended the “Summit of Strength” in Edmond, Oklahoma. This was the third of an annual a workshop featuring four of the best Master RKC instructors in the world. We were privileged and honored to attend what we are now calling the “Summit of Awesomeness.” We knew from attending last year to expect the best. You’ve heard the expression that “so-and-so person has forgotten more than I know”—that is certainly true of all four of the Master Instructors that were there. Last year was awesome. This year was even awesomer!

So what made this workshop so amazing? We rediscovered bodyweight prowess through a series of exercises, drills and progressions. We learned how to properly perform the bent press—a beautiful expression of strength, mobility and flexibility. We learned how to breathe properly and control our breathing—something that we all take for granted, but is extremely important for building not only endurance but strength, too (yes, you read that correctly). For Karen, the weekend was another step in trusting her body again post-cancer.

Most importantly, we had a lot of fun. The entire weekend, we were encouraged to play and explore. So often we get far too wrapped up in reps and sets and getting through workouts instead of just enjoying the beauty and joy of moving well. We did handstands (something Karen hasn’t done since before cancer), crawled around the gym, climbed ropes (Michael did while Karen stood in awe), played with pull-ups and hanging leg raises, watched as others bent nails, (some for the first time) and of course played with heavy kettlebells. Michael had so much fun, he set a PR by pressing a 32 kg (71 lb) kettlebell. We made many new friends and reconnected with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. It was an amazing and awesome experience.

But the best part of the weekend is not only did we learn how to improve our own training and awesomeness, we came home with an abundance of ideas to help all our awesome clients get even more awesome!