Today we asked ZWOD attendees which they preferred: mountains or beaches.  In the morning classes mountains won by a landslide but at 5pm we saw a tidal wave of votes for beaches so that the day ended 15:11 in favour of mountains.  Of course, this prompted jokes from the mountain lovers about beach people liking to sleep in but whether you like to rise early to hit the slopes or sleep in before lounging on the beach, the takeaway really was that in Vancouver you don’t need to choose because we can do both.  We’re all winners here!

It was frustrating as a coach we first made the switch to ZWODs.  As a coach my passion is making athletes better than they were before.  Every class I’m searching for ways to make each one of our members better than when they walked in.  Usually I like to do this by coaching the technical elements of Crossfit through a relentless focus on points of performance.  But Zoom is just not an excellent platform for this.  And the need for improvised equipment only makes this harder.

At first blush it would appear Zoom WODs are only good for burpees, cardio and a whole lot of repetitive body weight movement.  And that’s how a lot of gyms are using it.  But over the past few weeks I’ve had a revelation.  While Zoom might not support my favourite coaching strengths, the ZWODs offer some spectacular advantages in other areas.  And though I cannot as effectively improve my athletes’ strength or technical excellence through Zoom, I can most definitely improve their athletic performance and set them up for big wins when they return to the gym.

You see, most Crossfit WODs are 20 minutes or less and that leaves us 40 minutes of coaching time to work with.  Because we’re using improvised equipment we don’t get to warm up to heavy loads too much and we don’t need a lot of time for technical instruction.  Which means we have 30 minutes (sometimes more) each class to really develop areas of weakness and there are some very common areas of weakness.  As a result I’ve launched a campaign to attack those weaknesses so that our ZWODers will return to the gym far better prepared to see HUGE athletic gains!

What are we working on mastering?  Getting up and the contra-lateral sling.  Getting up?  That sounds simple.  But if you pay attention you will see that most of our athletes over 40 (and that’s most of Empower) are not so good at it.  The more athletic among us can fake it really well with mechanical compensations that are eventually going to result in injury.  What’s missing?  For some it is strength but for most it is hip and ankle mobility.  And guess where else you need hip and ankle mobility?  Yup, pretty much in every Crossfit movement.  So right now via Zoom we are mastering getting up in order to build strength and mobility through the ankle and hip joints.  When our ZWOD athletes return to the gym, they are going to return with far superior ankle and hip function and find they have surprisingly progressed at all the basic lifts and most of the advanced ones too even if they haven’t touched a barbell in months.  We’re doing this 4 times per week upwards of 80 minutes each week or 320 minutes per month!

What’s the contra-lateral sling?  Think all the core muscles that run diagonally across your trunk connecting your upper and lower torsos.  Weakness in the core is a prime cause of sports injury and most athletes are weak here.  We can see it in how athletes perform a simple movement like a lunge.  Watch and you’ll see them tip forward, slump sideways, struggle for balance.  Put them under load and they get all lopsided.  It shows up elsewhere too.  Everywhere in fact.  But most of us can power through movements, once again compensating for the neurological and physiological deficiencies.  Until something breaks.  Well, through Zoom we’ve had a real opportunity to test, assess and begin addressing those compensations and missing pieces.  Right now we’re on a campaign to strengthen your obliques and tie in your upper and lower bodies so you can move more efficiently and resist the torque created by loaded movements.

ZWODs are not good for training everything we’re used to training in the gym.  But as a coach I’ve discovered that I can still make a huge impact through Zoom.  It might not be my first choice of coaching tool but it is still a tool that when used well can be effective.  Zoom is going to allow us to fine tune some foundational components that have too long been ignored because they took a back seat to fun elements like strength and conditioning.  We are going to make you better athletes.

It took me a minute to figure it out.  I was shaken by the abrupt changes, as were we all.  But in person or via Zoom, I still have something of value to contribute as a coach!

Tuesday ZWOD
Warm up
1 min shoulder pass throughs
1 min inch worm with push up (take it slow open up shoulders)

Review  movements and scaling
Ring dip:
Bench dips 
Chair dips 

WOD: JT Ladder
HSPU ladder
3 min rest
Ring dip ladder
3 min rest
Push up ladder

First min 1 rep, second min 2 reps, third min 3 reps, etc until you cannot complete # of reps in the min.

JT Forest Ladder
If you watch the video you’ll see I almost missed the tree on the kick up but managed to catch and hold the trunk with my foot to avoid another spill.  Used strict handstand push ups which only got me 6 rounds and 4 reps.  But after a couple agonizing months with no treatment available, my pinched nerve is no longer hindering my overhead work, thanks Tim Anderson and Original Strength!

I used a picnic table for the dips.  Were not quite strict as I was able to work in an awkward mini kip in later rounds when they got tough.  Was surprised to get 14 rounds and 10 reps.  Better than I would expect to score on rings.

As expected based on my experience with JT, the easiest movement, the push ups, were harder than usual because they come last in the WOD when your shoulders and triceps are already exhausted.  I felt in a straight up push up ladder I should be able to manage at least 20 rounds but here I was done in 17 and 12 reps.