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Parkour: Week 6 Day 2 - The Turn Vault

Closing on the end of the first boot camp, but I've already signed up for the next six weeks so no break for me! Today was a little weird - I had a horrible lunch (two corn dogs and some chili poppers) and overall just felt nasty. No energy. Really rammed home how important it is to eat well when you are being active.

The Warmup (x3):

1 lap (4 blocks)
broad jump burpees up and back
leg squat walk thingie up and back
3 top outs down to cat holds

This seems simple. This was not simple - at all. Especially with the lack of energy, I was very much not enjoying it. The running, oddly, was actually easy - this is the first time in six weeks that I have not felt horrible during the third lap...

The really hard part was the broad jump burpees. This wasn't so much hard because of the muscles involved, but as I noticed yesterday when I kept squatting down working on assembling a book case, the back of my calves (mentioned in my State of the Pete) REALLY hurt when I'm in any sort of full squat (like picking rice). Actually, they hurt mostly coming out of it.

In any case, broad jump burpees basically caused me to repeatedly go through this action, and as usual I forced myself through it (hah, I'm a wanker). In any case, I managed to get through all the warmup but I was way behind everyone else. Rob was cool and asked what was up and I told him that the back of my legs were hurting funny.

He made me sit down and spin it in different rotations and stuff and figure out where it hurt then isolated it - apparently, it's my achilles tendon in both legs. Oddly enough, I never before realized that the achilles tendon actually stretched up that far, I literally thought it was just the small part at the very back of the heel. Rob said he'd had issues with this before and basically said I need to be careful, ice it (already been doing so), and if it starts to really hurt I should stop anything immediately. As I have seen the results of tearing the achilles, I understand this point.

Therefore, I must be careful!

On to the class. After the warmups, Rob introduced us to the turn vault. The principle of this is quite simple, but the execution is odd. Imagine that you are running straight towards a balcony that you can't jump from. You jump up onto the railing then turn your body around to catch your momentum, then drop down or slide over to the side. This is a turn vault. Another great animation from Tribal Movement:


The difference is that we focused on doing this over a rail (rather than a wall), and did not execute the jump seen above - just the vault over and catching ourselves.

To start with Rob showed us proper hand positioning for the bar (one hand gripping under, one hand gripping over) and had us practice using this position to balance our momentum upwards and get comfortable with the grip. After a few of these on each side, we starts jumping higher and harder with the goal of reaching a peak where it felt like our weight was catching.

I was annoyed this entire time because it felt very counter-intuitive to hold my momentum in check and not go all the way over. I mentioned this at one point and Rob went "ah HAH! remember that, we will come back to that in a few minutes." Sure enough, a few minutes later Rob asked me to repeat it again, then agreed that yes, this motion was unnatural. We really needed to be using our momentum all the way over, but this was just to learn the form.

At this point we moved into going over the bar and during the turn vault. The trick of this is to basically launch your body into the air until you are effectively holding most of your weight on your arms, then pivot around the arm with an underhanded grip (without letting go with this arm) until you have rotated your body around this arm, grab with the other arm, then let your body sink down into the landing.

As happens so frequently in this training, this goes against what I know about working with bars. I want to grip wide instead of shoulder width apart, I want to severely control my momentum, and I want to rotate with my hips and legs and instead use my arms as for balance and control. This makes sense when you start off on a bar and are trying to stay on a bar. This does not make sense when you are running at a bar at full speed and using all the power in your legs to pivot can result in swinging yourself around and crashing horribly into the ground or wall.

So, as so many days before, it was mostly an exercise in thinking things through carefully and trying to force myself to override what I wanted to do. Oddly here, pivoting on my dominant arm (right) worked very well and I didn't have a problem with it, generally got the movement down properly. On the non-dominant arm (left), I had a tendency to swing my hips and legs entirely too much. Mental thing again.

After a bunch of attempts like this as a class, Rob stuck a couple of those precision trainers (the H type thingies) underneat the bar and told us to practice landing exactly on the precision trainer, carefully and lightly. Now, not too put too fine a point on this but my first thought was that it was a recipe for disaster and that someone was going to bust an ankle.

Apparently, our training had gone well to this point because nobody did. ;) In fact, for both myself and Mike whom I talked with, being forced to land carefully on a small spot with risk of ankle injury actually made the entire exercise much easier. It forced us to slow down slightly and really process the control aspect of the rotation to stick the landing. Once the trainers were down, I had absolutely no problems pulling this off at all, and I think I had pretty good form with it.

Interestingly, at least two of the guys that were doing quite well originally suddenly started having major problems, missing the trainers, falling over, or catching their feet/legs on the bar. Opposite mental effect again.

This was pretty much it - 40 minutes of stepping up to a bar and jumping over/around it in a controlled momentum and direction shift. It wasn't the most fun thing we've done in class but it was very fulfilling. I actually liked it, and it fit well for me today because I was not feeling so explosive - I don't think I could do mad runs or jumps or anything today.

Afterwards, we did the standard stretch and chatted a bit. Rob won't be around for the last day of our class on Saturday (since it's the 4th) but Travis should be there. Apparently for the last day they are going to set up some obstacle courses for us and have us navigate through them, which should be great fun.

He also told us that he's also the instructor for the intermediate boot camp, which is pretty cool. I have really enjoyed learning from him and really appreciate his style of letting us try things on our own then giving advice on the best way to do it rather than forcing us to try it "his" way. Look like at least four other people from the first boot camp will be back, so there will be familiar faces too.

Rob left us a parting gift though... "We're going to really ramp up the conditioning in the next class, so be ready." Uh... wtf lol? Ramp it up MORE? Holy crap.

Should be fun. ;)

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