Bodytribe Time: The Clash with Bertrand Russel, Although He’ll Kill Me Not!

Posted on February 27, 2010. Filed under: Spirit | Tags: , , , , , |

Who They Are

Bodytribe is a unique place located here in Sacramento, California with one distinct difference between mainstream gyms and this local favorite – that “training is the means to an increase in the quality of life through movement” and that everything we do is simply a tool to do just that – increase the QUALITY of life.

Check out some videos of Bodytribe here.

Sure you can pick up all this crap easily, but do you look like you got crap in your pants when you walk?

The Sacramento Bee in 2008 also gave a good description of this place

The flora and fauna of the place, the art on the walls, the absence of mirrors and the use of nontraditional gym equipment such as sandbags, kettle bells and giant tires – all of that has drawn a close-knit following of swim-against-the-mainstream types. A tribe, if you will.

This vibe has drawn people to Bodytribe for nearly five years [now 7 years] since it opened on 21st Street, near J Street, in midtown.

The Principles

The mentality, the abilities of the trainers, and the ideology that everything is simply a tool, rather than the goal is an often refreshing view of fitness, not commonly shared by many, and held by only a few. The principles that surround the tribe are as follows

Try doing this in a workout

  • A passion for strength, not an obligation of the scale.
  • Training without mirrors
  • Understanding the mind and spirit better through movement.
  • Picking up something heavy. Really heavy.
  • No fear of the body’s abilities.
  • Using REAL training tools with long histories. No gadgets or fads.
  • Embracing training as intense play-time.
  • Acknowledging and exploring capability.
  • Training techniques that are useful, enjoyable and sacred.
  • Banishing weakness.

These principles hold true in that the goal should be to understand our limitations, but also understand that they aren’t set in stone. That we are malleable, able to create our future within our hands like a master carpenter, chipping away at wood, only to end up building a beautiful home. That we shouldn’t be scared of who we are, and what we truly want to be in the future, and that our body is tuned to perform, not to pump.

One thing that is also overlooked even in the most underground fitness worlds is that we train (not workout) and build our skills in useful endeavors. This training although can and sometimes should be taken seriously, should also have a sense of “play” so to speak in that it is something that we enjoy, not some routine handed to us, just to give us a good look in the mirror for 30mins.

Bodytribe: Learn the Tribal Ways

Understanding these principles, I came in to Bodytribe like a kid exploring a candy store, wondering what today’s Saturday Workshop (Single Tool Series: Advanced Dumbbell Workouts) would be like as this was my first visit to the tribe.

To tell you straight up – no one was filled with an ego whatsoever. The trainers we’re friendly, understanding, and loved to shred mainstream fitness apart, something I would do too :-). Many of the trainers themselves were finely educated, one who was even Mel Siff’s protege,  Chip Conrad. For those that don’t know Mel Siff co-authored a book titled Supertraining, a book many recognize as the epitome of strength training knowledge.

We warmed up with some interesting move combinations that eventually lead me to remember that mobility doesn’t and shouldn’t only take place in the standing position, but also in any position that your body can and will be in – Face down, face up, in a turkish get up position, sitting down etc. It certainly hit home in that positions I’m normally mobile in, were immobile…and boy was I unhappy.

Once the class started we covered:

The Saxon Side Bend

Dumbbell Swing

Dumbbell Snatch and Catch

Turkish Get Up

Windmill with two different foot positions (pointed diagonally and straight ahead)

Windmill + a step out or kick out

A few notables was that although Chip and his trainers understood the biomechanics for exercise safety and performance, they also understand that variations exist because of body architecture. For example the Windmill with an altered foot position changes the feel of the exercise quite a bit from the traditional “RKC Standard.” There was also a mismatch in that encouraged creativity, rather than stunted it. Play with your foot position, play with your hip width, and determine what may feel better for you at this time.

When's the last time you hoisted a tire besides changing your flat?

Another interesting side note was that the Turkish Get Up, was taught similar to how it used to be, as simply a method to get up, rather than as a Movement Screen Analysis ala Kettlebells from the Ground Up, The Kalos Sthenos. The method taught was simply different methods for getting up from either the lunge or squat position and any natural alterations are simply style points so to speak.

Both “methods” aren’t bad, but again it’s simply understanding when it’s appropriate to use the Turkish Get Up as simply an exercise vs. using it as a movement assessment. Both may be needed at times.

Now imagine putting all those movements together into one combo workout and you have a brutal, quick, effective metabolic conditioning workout. Not something I’d normally do, but awesome change of pace from my usual workout.

Kill Me Now

Pushups rows/burpees(with the DB’s)/push press

5 sets of 5 reps for time (get your stopwatch).

Bertrand Russell with one pair of dumbbells…

Bent over rows: 6

Swings (with both DBs): 6

Squat Press: 6

Burpees (with DBs): 6

6 times. Time it.

It seemed easy at first, I sped right through the first round, but boy did it smoke my arms out easily within the second round. We only went 2 rounds, and I’m sure happy we did. There’s this weird fascination with everything burpee, but who cares, it was all together one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time with good people.

Anyway, I am giving the class 2 thumbs up, and can’t wait to go back when my schedule permits. If you ever come down to Sacramento on a Saturday. Stop by. They have classes almost every week from 10am-12pm. For more information check out Bodytribe Workshops and Events.

Get your Play On!


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