Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another day in paradise, w/philosophy

First real day with class at the beach. No victims though. Not really unexpected. I guess it takes a little time to get people to actually get their act together and get down there. We practiced teaching on each other though. Or more correctly: I practiced on my lovely wife.
Well, it's always hard to practice on someone you know and especially on someone who already has an excellent technique but who has to pretend to suck. Well, it's a perfect growing ground for a fight.
But as Anna so wisely stated it: "We have to get along". So that we did. It's a great experience practicing teaching on someone who knows you, are critical and on the same level as yourself. Frustrating but awarding.
We hope to get real victims/clients as soon as possible and people that we talk to seems honetly interested but if we don't.....well, juggling on playa barceloneta with your loved one ain't to bad either.
And for the raquetball playing gentleman that we met the other day: we're sorry you didn't show up today but you should try it out and here's a link to a RKC instructor in your home town. Send us a message if you like it.
Tomorrow we move into our new apartment where we will be able to hold classes on our patio. There will be more pictures to come.
Myself I am getting more and more into juggling. As you know I am doing Geoff Neuperts Kettlebell Muscle program which means that I am relieved from all traing responsibility as soon as I have done my 30 min or so of double kb-work three times a week ;). This means that I have a lot of free time on my hands and what could be a better way of using a prolonged summer and autumn AND city beach than learning to juggle with your beloved bell?
Right now my heaviest bell is 20 kg. Not much. I have two of them so it's great for double work but in itself it's less than satisfactory for the training that I've done before. For juggling though it's quite heavy. I've done some juggling before with the 32 but it's very basic moves. It takes a much lighter bell to practice the more tricky stuff.
I start with the 12 kg competition bell and then move up to the 16 kg. I have to say that the competition bells, i.e. the GS bells are PERFECT for juggling. Much better than any of the bells I've tried before even though I'm looking forward to trying the Eleiko-bells when they arrive.
KB-juggling is a little like parkour......a little. In the world where I reside, improvisation is usually considered as quite a strage animal. Workouts are usually very linear. The ideas is to develop certain aspects of fitness or strength. It might be 21-15-9 reps of pull-ups and squat thrusters as fast as possible (ouch!), (5/5/5/5/5)*5 reps of CL/MP/SQ/PP/SQ, or just one max deadlift/squat/snatch....etc. If you go into that kind of workout you sort of know what to expect. If you juggle it's kind of different.
For starters it's much harder to tell whether you succeded or not since the goal is not pre-fixed (of course it might be but than it's not really impro). What you are looking for is more a feeling than something else. A feeling of satisafaction, of flow. I guess you can say that you're looking for the same kind a feeling when you're doing a "regular" workout but then the rules for when that feeling should occur is more regulated by the inherent rules of the workout itself. When it comes to improv though these rules are much more ZEN-like, or if you want, more ethical. They are, with Pavel's words, "within the honour system". You know whether you have succeded or not, not based on how your performance compares to others or your own prior performances, but based on how you feel. It's an ethic more comparable to such arts as skateboarding or parkour than to established sports.
Second: since juggling is (not necessarily so but the way I try to do it) an improvised pursuit it put other demand on the body than non improvised puruits does. For example: if you have a decent swing tecnique you can fairly easy work your way up the kb weight ladder. Even a quite weak and tiny person as myself can swing a heavy bell like the 48 kg "beast" with a little practice. The reason behind this is that that swing, done correctly, is a very consistent movement. When it's done right it looks exactly the same every time which enables me to foresee all of it's demands on my body. Juggling however is much too complex to foresee in this way. It requires a level of quick adaptation and flexibility that are usually absent in regular training/workouts but that are generally a big part of the everyday demands on our body. Regaining balance after slipping, catching a falling glass, dodging a punch or getting out of the way of a speeding car.
I'm not saying all training should be improvised or non-linear. We need to train in stable conditions to build strength and to develop skills. But I also think that we need to break out of the pre-ordered box, to break out of our confort zone if you will, and develop our strength is the realm of chaos (well, maybe not total chaos, I am a philosopher so I do understand the difficulties of this concept, but the slight chaos).
However, working out in an only linear fashion is like training a martial art without sparring. It's doable and there's not anything necessarily wrong with it but it is a kind of false advertising. Espessialy if it's labeled "functional" training.
Finally I would just like to say that the more I watch TUF, the more I like GSP. What an athlete, what a coach, what a guy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Guerilla marketing

Me and the bells out on a advertising spree.

Also, completely off topic: When was the last time you listened to Pet Shop Boys? Might be high time to turn on Left To My Own Devices!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Playing around at playa barceloneta

You've been volleyed!

Ever since we first started talking about moving to Barcelona I've had the dream that we would start playing beachvolleyball. A couple of days ago I talked Jon into buying us a ball. Here's some documentation from our first practice.

I reckon that in beachvolley one must be an extremely good team player and that one must never ever let oneself be annoyed with the partner if he or she makes a mistake. Guess things like that becomes extra important as there are only two of you in the team. Unfortunately I'm an impatient bitch so I guess we're not gonna be champions anytime soon but we had a lot of fun practicing.

This kind of non-quantifiable training is something I'm really embracing at the moment. Training can be so much more than counting reps, seconds or kilos and I think it would do many of us good to stop counting and start playing.

Lost in translation

My spanish is far from sufficient so I use all the help I can get, i.e. translation programs and apps.
This is the result I got from trying to translate an e-mail from the gym where I practice Eskrima:


Det går bra Project Presentation, en version
om du Luce.
Och njuta av dagarna av semestern.
En princip skulle inte gå på lördag,
jag har saker att gå tungt lämnar mig,
gjorde detta är en tjänst Duran tonica och FN
gången som det har ändrats på grund
av en modalitet i Yawara och nu betala
för klasserna A Place To Go månatlig avbetalning.

I varje fall hoppas jag som ett tåg EL 11/06.

Got that!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back in the days...

Moving to a new city evokes memories of past relocations. In the beginning of the 90s I moved to Uppsala to study philosophy at the university. I had lifted weights prior to that and I had always been interested in martial arts so as soon as I had installed myself I went searching for a gym. After a few months living as a nomad in gym limbo I found what was to become my second home for a few years to come: Chikara. It was mainly a dojo with Karate and Thaiboxing classes and a very small weightlifting room. The place was hidden on the second floor in a back alley with the weightlifting room on the first floor. I signed upp for thaiboxing classes with usage of the weight room being included in the price.
The gym had quite a shady reputation it turned out as it previously been owned and ran by the infamous Uppsalamaffian. For me it was heaven though. I never became a great thaiboxer but I didn't suck either and I loved to spend time in the weightlifting room. It had a raw concrete floor with some rubber mats and instead of a platform there was a hole in the floor where you squatted and deadlifted (not that I ever deadlifted back then). The door was locked with a big padlock and the hole thing was so badly isolated that snow blew in during winter. It had a few barbells, benches and racks. A complete set of dumbells from 10 kg to 50 kg or so, a few machines, old bleached bodybuilding posters and a stereo. Most of the time I was completely alone there. I could play any music I liked on the stereo. Rollins Band, Ministry, Sick of it All and Sepultura were the usual choises.
The only other guy (I saw two girls there once, for one minute or so) that came there regulary was one of the owners of the gym called "Ryssen" (the Russian). I asked him once what his real name was and he just replied: "Nevermind. Just call me Ryssen. Everybody else does."
He was built like a refrigerator - short and wide - and used to workout in camoflage and boots. After a while he asked me if I wanted to train with him. Eleven o'clock monday to friday. We never talked much but it was great times. I got a key of my own an started to do two workouts a day if I didn't have thai practice also. Ate enormous amounts of oatmeal and eggs and was always on the lookout for cheap protein. Got bigger.
This is many years ago now and Chikara doesen't exist anymore. I am not even sure that gyms like Chikara exists in Sweden anymore. Since that time it has always been my ideal kind of gym. When I look for a new place to train I am always looking for that feeling. An Occam style gym with only the bare essentials where people come to to lift rather than something else. I miss the unpolished, rough edged kindness that let you do your thing without interference.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Mondays are dedicated to Neupert's Kettlebell Muscle-program but having nothing better to do while Anna was at her dance class I just had to try some snatch test style snatching. First with 16 kg. Sort of lost track counting but did something like 80-100 easy so I progressed to 20 kg. The grip feels slightly different with the new bells. Less strenous on the hands but at the same time a more slippery grip. I love to use the competition bells for juggling but for hard core snatching I am longing for some Eleiko bells.
20 kg's didn't do too much damage either. Clocked 100 snatches just on the right side of 4 minutes without too much huffin' and puffin'. I think I'm going to see what I can do with double 20s.
After a few hours rest and a visit to Barcelonas excellent Apple Store it was time for Kettlebell Muscle. Anna has a few doubts that it is possible to build serious muscle with as little work as this program demands and myself.....well, I have already put my skinny legs on the line.
No matter what will happen in the coming 12 weeks, it feels great. It didn't happen today but we are going to make the KB-muscle days stretching days also. If I'm ever going to do a l-sit to handstad on the rings I will need a lot more flexibility.


Funicular fun

Spiderpig spiderpig

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fooling around down in the sand

It's all fun and games down at the beach. Here my latest invention. And don't tell me it's been done before.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On poledancing, circus and contemporary dance

Good day today. 4 1/2 hours of dancing in the morning. First basic technique class, after that contemporary and then finishing off with a choreography class. Going back to dancing feels fantastic. It's developing in so many ways. Both physically and artistically. And it's humbling as well. Feels like a very good thing to take a step back from the activities you know you're good at and go in to something where everyone else are better, more advanced and more experienced than you are. To leave the familiar behind and throw yourself into new environments is daunting, for sure, but how developing.

It's for that exact reason that I think that I'm not going to take the tissue & trapeeze classes at piccolocirkus that I went to try this wednesday. It was great fun, everybody was very nice, we climbed high, twined ourselves into the cloth and made spectacular poses and did some cool drops. I believe that all the other beginners who were there got just what they wanted and more, and as much as I would like to say that I loved it, I felt like I had done it before.

I'm sure circus training could improve my technical level of poledance. No doubt about it. But right now for me, (running the risk of upsetting my circus friends) it's all the same in a way. It's the same search for new poses, new tricks. It's the same kind of 'Tahdaaa!-look at what I can do' kind of poses and moves. It's just like gymnastics or a strongman show. You show people something that most people can't do and then you get a round of applause. Too much show and too little poetry.

Some people would say that it's only when you have an extremely high technical level and when you know all the difficult tricks in the book that you are able to create or perform poetry. They might be right in a way, but also completely wrong. To have the possibility to do whatever you want with your body doesn't necessary mean that you will use it in all ways possible. And also, if you apply that sinister and strict perspective it almost inevitably raises the question: 'When are we technically skilled enough to start to perform outside the box, and who is to make that desicicion?'

What I'm trying to say is that I'am never going to be a chinese gymnast and that life is too short to let oneself be held back by strict ideas of virtuosity. I could probably be a better poledancer by taking circusclasses but what I want is something else. I want to discover new movements on the pole. Not new poses. I want to explore the understated. Not the glam. I want to look interesting and I'm no longer interested in the pretty. So here I am, dancing, dancing, dancing trying to find new kinds of movement and new ways of expression, hoping to take a few steps closer towards poetry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Poleart 2010

So many things took place during the couple of months when the blog was down and I feel it's time to do some backtracking:

On September 25th my dear friend (and employer) Nelle from North Pole Studios put on the amazing event of PoleArt at Södra Teatern I Stockholm. It is an international event that contains both a showcase and a competition focusing on "displaying the artistry, beauty and showmanship in poledance". It was a mindblowing evening with fantastic performances by participants from ... different countries, the judges were true poledancecelebs and it was a superbly well organised and impressive show.

I usually don't post other peoples videos of performances or feats here but the winner and the runner-up of this competition are must-sees and should not be kept hidden so if t´you have a few minutes to spare, do have a look. (That goes for all the CF and KB guys as well. You don't wanna miss this!)

The runner-up, Oona from Finland. What can I say, flawless.

The winner, Laurence from France. So artistic.

And I can't stop myself from posting this last one. Marina from North Pole Studios, Stockholm performed in the showcase. Even though I train with her regularly I'm breathtaken each time I see her perform. This time I even had tears in my eyes. Couldn't find a clip from the eventnight so here's Marina rehearsing at the studio.

Gloves at the ready!

The plan we had for this blog after our move to Spain and the comeback in english was to first and foremost use it as a photoblog and not write as much as we did before. But as iPhoto has somehow crashed and as there seems to be too many things going on that needs to be told you might have to settle for a lot of text for a while.

Boxing last night was fun. Felt good to throw some punches after a long two weeks without my gloves on. Puro Impacto (those names...) was the name of the gym and it seems to be more of a muay thai/kickboxing gym rather than a boxing gym. The class was good though, all levels, from beginners to advandced were mixed. It can be quite daunting for a beginner of course and perhaps a bit basic for the advanced students but for someone in between, like me, it's perfect. You get to feel like you've actually learned something about boxing when you see the new people next to you, but you also have the chance to watch and learn from the advanced boxers. I love it!

The head trainer was called Javier, a guy in his best years. He was not excessively tall, didn't exactly have a huge amount of hair and his grey melange sweatsuit wasn't from this seasons collection if you know what I mean. In other words, he looked like a coach out of a boxing film and was hard as nails. The fact that there was a younger adept holding the class while he himself spent most of the time standing on top of a laddder in the middle of the room fixing a lamp in the ceiling made him appear even more like a character from Raging Bull.

Anyway, I didn't make a fool out of myself during class and I kicked ass during the last five minutes of ab work. I have a few other boxinggyms that I would like to give a try before I make up my mind but this was a good start.

Puro Impacto - selling thaishorts galore!

A post on this mornings ballet class, first one in many years, will have to wait till tomorrow I think. But perhaps Jon will write something later tonight on this evenings ringwork down at the beach.

Monday, October 18, 2010

For whom the bell tolls

First day of kettlebell practice for a long time. Started out light doing the basic moves, first with the 12, then with the 16 and finally with the 20. It felt good but a bit akward. Like I really had to think about what I was doing, consciously anticipating shifts in balance and weight distribution.
Decided to go for first day of Kettlebell Muscle anyway. Well. What can I say? "It's been a long time since." "Too much wine lately" "Not used to the floor/air/surroundings" "Tired from trying to learn spanish." Knock! Knock!! They all sound hollow, don't they?
Well how about this one?: "Not strong enough yet !"
So pretty quickly I scaled it down from 5 reps to 3. I will stay with that for this week. Go up to 4 next week and in two weeks 5 will hopefully be ready for the first week of the program.
I'm going to take "before and after pictures" to document this program and see what happens. I don't have a scale but if I put on a sufficent amount of weight I will know it.


Well. Got something to work with here. Am afraid the stork will knock on my door and ask for his legs back.

Dancing, swinging, punching

Went to my first danceclass in years today. Contemporary at PlanD. I feel like I've been hit by a car, trying to keep up with the group who were far more advanced than I am and who had beeen dancing together for months. But it was all I had hoped for and more! I realise my body needs some time to adjust to the contemporary movements. My gosh, my back is so straight you'd think I have a hanger shoved up my a*se and my hands look like the hands of a bloody showgirl. Aaaargh, that's not contemporary! Not even ballet I'm afraid.

But I'm loving it, it been so long since I was moving in those kind of patterns. Pole has been so trickfocused for me lately so to really get back to dancing feels like its just what I need. And want! Plus I think it's going to give so much more to the dancing on the pole. So from now on I think there'll be the danceclasses in the morning and kettlebells in the afternoons. And sprinting on the beach the rest of the time. Ha ha. Now off to a boxing-class, first one since we came. Let's see what the Barcelonians have up their sleeve.

3-D kettlebells anyone?

My first eskrima practice the other day reminded me of something that I've known for a while but never really adressed: that most of the training I do are two dimensional. How did it remind me? My obliques are still hurting.

In eskrima passing the center line of the body is more the rule than the exception.
Most of the strikes are performed diagonally across the midline. Twinting is of course very common i many sports and perhaps especially in martial arts. It is almost impossible to generate power in striking, throwing or kicking without twisting the body. In non specific sports training like Crossfit or kettlebells however we rarely do these kind of motions. With kettlebells we have a few movements that do this. Most notebly the TGU but also the "RKC-armbar", the "Around the World Pass" and the "Figure 8 to Hold". You can also do some variation on "Lunges with a twist"None of those are however very explosive. To me there seems to be a void to be filled here.
I'm thinking that kb-juggling might be a way to do it. Juggling a kettlebell you constantly pass the midline and move in all planes and you constantly put the body slightly out of balance. Anybody out there who has tried Gus Petersens K.A.T. dvd's?
Well, I would appreciate your thoughts and ideas on this subject.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New babies

This morning it was time to collect our four new babies. The large ones - two purple twins - the yellow middle child and a small blue one. We went up the mountain to Leo at Kettlebell Barcelonas house in La Floresta. It's five degrees colder up there. The air is crisp and the mountain sides are green. Leo helped us carrying the bells to the train and after a coffe we went back to the city.

Stopping on la rambla on the way back hnme for a few presses (yes, that is a very short t-shirt).
So, now we got our bells and with them no more excuses. It's been a while since we played with them so it feels a bit shaky. My original idea was to start with Geoff Neuperts "Kettlebell Muscle" program immediately but now I feel that a few days of getting the movement patterns back first might be a good idea. So the next few days will be playing around with all the weights and will all kinds of excercises, both single and double, and when that feels good - hopefully by wednesday or so - I will start with the 12 week program.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Back in the saddle

Yesterday I brought the rings down to the beach. Did the first ring work for about a month. Not the most beautiful form but it felt pretty good. I could only two muscle-ups at a time but I think that I will be up to five or more quite quickly.

Today I had my first eskrima class with Enrique and the other guys at Barcelona Eskrima Group.
It was a 31/2 hour session at Gimnas Yawara and the first time doing eskrima for me. For a long time I have wanted to train with the Sayoc Kali group at Blade Arts in Stockholm but working restaurant hours haven't really made that possible. So here I am now with Barcelonas stick/knife fighting elite.

It was a great session. It felt so good to do a martial art again. Hitting tyres with sticks and at the end just going at each other with padded sticks. Can't wait to learn more from these great people.

Me be ill/ Have had better days

A friend posted this on facebook the other day: "I wish I could buy a spare immune system on ebay!!" For fucks sake yes! At least when it comes to these silly colds that are bad enough to keep you off your feet, but not severe enough to knock you right out and keep you sleeping trough it. Or no, really I wouldn't mind skipping all sorts of illnesses if I had the choix.

Yes it's true, I have a cold and have been lying in bed for a couple of days now. My only joy is when Jon comes home to tell me about what exercises he did at the beachgym. Or tell the truth, I'm so frustrated about my state that when he comes home to eagerly tell me about his latest muscleup/bodyweightwod/run or whatever, all I do is jealously grunt something and then change the subject. Ha ha, what a wife huh! But Jon is as kind and patient as ever, assuring me how I'll soon be well and how fun we'll have together as soon as I'm back on track.

And how much fun we've had down at the beach! Our last workout together was a great set of skilltraining, nothing that got the pulse running but it left me with some severe soreness the day after:

Handstand pushups, all the way to the ground, with help if required (which means on each rep for me!) to work on full range of motion.

Pistols (one legged squat). They still challenge me, I can't even do them unassisted, otherwise I fall backwards. But I can feel them improving everytime and my Lord I can feel them when walking the two sets of stairs up to our house.

After that, some gymnastics. Flat tucked front lever holds, and a sort of long cycle Skin the cat that goes from a normal dead hang to a l-sit pullup, then inverts to skin the cat. From there it goes the same way back to the beginning again, and without touching the ground, straight back into a new rep. Got that? Perhaps a film would be in place. Next time.

A staged demo pic of the first stage of the long-cycle-skin-the-cat. Gotta admit though, that's the wrong grip. Should be overhand when you do the full rep. But have you seen what beautiful night skies we're training under? And how glossy my new shoes are!

Anyway, am aiming at being well tomorrow, we're going out to Leo Cavallo from Kettelbells Barcelona to pick up some kettlebells. He's living somewhere outside of town and going back with four KBs on public transport can probably give our grip a good workout. Although we have done it several times before remember? In fact, all our darlings at home got the rough treatment and have seen both busses, trams and commutertrains on their way to their new family. Leos kettlebells are GirevoySport competitionbells, the multicolore ones. Although I just love Eleikos black ones and am hoping to get a hold of some of them soon, I'm eager to see what it's like to work the GS ones and I'm looking forward to meet with Leo again. He is a really nice guy - despite the fact that he is a Girevoysport guy! Wondering what GS is? Have a look at this vid. No show, no glam, no brand new trainers, just hard work and repetitions, repetitions, repetitions. Just gotta love the Russians!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ba ba baa, ba Barbaraaa

Unfortunately Anna's sick so no training with her for now. Barabara however jumped in on a short notice. I have tried her out before but failed miserably and was fittingly condemned by fellow athletic bloggers. This time I on purpose set a very low pace (Scale and keep the intensity! I know, I know. Mañana) to be sure I'd make it through. A lot of people at the beach gym today resulted in some involuntary pauses below the pull-up bar.
Just a few words about my fellow practitioners. Full Range of Motion seems to be an unknown concept here. You do your pull-ups from bent arms up to your nose and stop your push-ups at half way. Ok, I know my push-ups are not games standard all the time (Rickard CFN?) but compared to what I see here they are pure poetry. One of the great things of working out in the midst of people with a less than perfect technique is that you yourself go to great lengths to excell. You know - the big fish in a small pond theory.
Well. Back to Barbara. For the non CrossFitters Barbara means 20 pull-ups, 30 push-ups, 40 sit-ups and 50 squats repeated 5 times.
I did it all. It took me more than 30 min. Next time I will do it in less.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New beginnings

First week in Barcelona has past and life is slowly falling in to place. I no longer get really lost - just slightly - and I'm starting to dare to try a little spanish.
This is my/our first blog post in three months but hopefully it means a new beginning. Since we have left old Svedala behind we will try to do this in english. It might take a while to get my english up to speed som please bare with me.
We haven't received our kettlebells yet so it has only been bodyweight training this far. Not that that isn't challenging enough. I'm not exactly in the best shape of my life. Moving to another country takes its toll. I still have no real flow or routine and are not expecting to get it before we move into our own flat at the end of this month

The terrace of our new flat

Today however I wrote down all the CrossFit Girls and Heroes workout that you can do without weights and decided to start from "A": Angie (100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats) - with a twist though. Starting and finishing with a run. Starting the clock outside the door on C/ dels Arcs. Crisscrossing between the tourists in front of the Catedral on Plaça Nova and on C/ del Bisbe Irurita down to Plaça de Sant Jaume. Downhill through the rest of Barri Gòtic and to Port Vell. Hopefully I have green lights across Ronda del Litoral and then I just follow the water and the sailboats of the Port de Barcelona and the Marina to Palau de Mar and Museu d'Historia de Catalunya and in between the narrow streets of the old fisher neighborhood of Barceloneta. After that it's just a few hundred meters to the pier between Platja de Sant Sebastià and Platja de Barceloneta and the beach gym. Nothing luxurious, just a few pull-up bars and other more unidentifiable stuff but basically all you need.
The running took 10 minutes and I started on the pull-ups immediately. After 25 or so I realised that 100 wasn't a good idea for today so I quickly scaled it down to half. The gym was almost empty today except for a little girl playing around and a guy praticing his not so impressing Kung-Fu skills so at least I could do it without interuption. However, 50 push-ups, sit-ups and squats later I was on my way home up the windling alleys of the Gotic once again.
Tomorrow it's Barbara. And as we all know: Barbara is a Bitch!