Gym Jones Wrap-Up

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One month of Gym Jones.

Early last week I wrapped up my first month of Gym Jones programming. Actually, it was a month and a half’s worth since I repeated the first two weeks as I missed a few workouts the first time around.

There’s no great mystery in Gym Jones’ programming. To quote Mark Twight himself on the madness of his methods: “The secret is a well-kept secret called commitment and self-discipline.”

There you have it. Simple.

I’m not going to lie, going in I was intimidated. Gym Jones has a reputation for being elitist and hard core. However, after spending a lot of time on their site and doing one of their programs I think neither is true. They just expect you to work hard and push yourself to your absolute limits. That’s not elitist or hardcore, that’s just the way life should be lived, in my opinion.

Their mantra is “the mind is primary” and once I figured that out the workouts were no longer so scary. There are two options when you get into a workout: 1. stop or slow down when you think you can’t go on; 2. stop or slow down when you reach your real limit and your body just won’t go any more. When you come to understand the “mind is primary” you realize that option number one really isn’t an option any more because your mind lies to you.

“It was hell and wonderful at the same time. [My trainer] Mark Twight gave me a whole bunch of workouts to do by myself to get my fitness levels up, so that when I arrived in LA the really hard stuff would start. I did two months training on my own and four months training in LA with Mark, and that was excruciating – breaking boundaries I didn’t know I could. I remember one moment, doing some horrible rowing sprint thing, and I said, “I can’t do this Mark, I can’t, I’m done,” and he said, “No you’re not, don’t listen to the lies.” I kept on pulling and pulling until suddenly I realised I had finished. That’s what Mark taught me – one of the many things – don’t listen to the lies, your barriers are breakable.” – Henry Cavill on training with Gym Jones for his Man of Steel role

But… I don’t want to make it seem like Gym Jones is all about crushing you until you are like a ground up bug on an eighteen wheeler’s bumper. Their programming is smart, well planned, periodized and has built in progressions and recovery days. CrossFit hates on Gym Jones because they say they are ripping them off. Um, no. Gym Jones is what CrossFit could have been if they weren’t run by five year olds and would have listened to any of those smart dudes and dudettes they kicked out (Twight, Rippetoe, Wolf, Everett, OPT, Attitude Nation, etc.)

And… I want to be clear that I’m not slagging off CrossFit. There are some great affiliates out there doing wonderful work whose programming probably looks an awful lot like Gym Jones or OPT. Good on ya. I just don’t think main site CrossFit puts enough emphasis on recovery or periodization/progression.

I made some really nice gains on my month and a half of Gym Jones – both mentally and physically – and I’m really excited to start another program today.

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The Infernal Machine

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Gym Jones Women’s Foundation I

Week 2, Day 1

The Ingredients: the AirDyne

The Recipe: Intervals

More work on the infernal machine today. I’m not prepared to say that I gave 100% of what I had to give, but I came really close. There was a point during a few of the intervals where my mind was telling my legs to move and they absolutely would not go. However, there were also a few points where my mind was telling my body to just give up when I still had a little left in the tank. Those are the moments that I need to work on overcoming.

Also, I almost threw up my breakfast, and I hadn’t even eaten it yet.

Back on the Gym Jones Track

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Well, I made it through one whole week of the Gym Jones program then life dumped a truck load of work on me. We had to sell over half of our cows on the ranch because of the drought and I spent over a solid week gathering, sorting, shipping and branding cow calf pairs. I hardly had time to eat and sleep, let alone work out.

This week I decided to just start all over from the beginning since I didn’t get very far in the first place.

Day 1: Intervals on the AirDyne

Day 2: Recovery day. Turkish get-ups, windmills and a light weight circuit.

Day 3: IWT

Day 4: Easy recovery ride on the AirDyne

Day 5: IWT

Day 6: Endurance day. An hour hike with the dogs.

Day 7: Rest

I decided to use the AirDyne for my intervals because I absolutely suck at that infernal machine. I’m able to hit the program’s specified pace on the rower, but I’m not even in the ballpark on the AD. Like, so far out of the ballpark I wouldn’t be able to stand across the street and catch the home run a juiced-up Barry Bonds hit over the third deck and out of the stadium.

So, you know what that means: more fine Dyne-ing for me.

The good news is, I’m much better at it than when I started. I hit the same number of calories in two minutes that it took me three minutes to reach the first time around. Progress!

On another note: Mark Twight has said that no one has ever gained weight doing one of their programs, and that is certainly true for me. I lost four pounds this week, and at a time of the month when I usually gain weight.

Tami likey.

On to next week, which is all of the same workouts, except more reps and longer intervals.

Overcoming My Mental Hurdle

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Gym Jones Women’s Foundation I

Week Two

The ingredients: Air Dyne, double kettlebell presses, goblet squats, burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, rowing, farmer’s carries, kettlebell swings.

The recipe: IWT (interval weight training)

This is a repeat of last week’s IWT workout, only this time there were more reps, longer interval times and shorter rest periods (of course.)

The magical and totally wonderful thing that happened is: even though it was harder than last week it was easier, know what I’m sayin’? I rowed faster, AirDyned longer, lifted more and it felt better than it did last time. I don’t know how to explain it, because it still hurt, but I didn’t mind the hurt as much. Or maybe a better way to state it is: I dealt with the discomfort in a better way.

A big part of the Gym Jones schtick is the mental side of physical exertion. Kind of like Mark Divine of SealFit, who says that we are all capable of 20 times more than we think we are. There is a certain mental aspect of, say, riding the AirDyne or rowing, where you reach a certain level of pain and you have to decide if you are going to give up or not. If you choose not to quit, you will realize that, yes it hurts, but you can endure it and it won’t get better, but neither will it get worse. Once you can overcome that mental hurdle many wonderful things are possible.

IWT, the Second

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Gym Jones Women’s Foundation I

Day 6 – IWT

The Ingredients: Double kettlebell cleans and rack holds, ball slams, Air Dyne, rowing, trap bar deadlifts. Not necessarily in that order or combination.

The recipe: IWT (Interval Weight Training)

The result: Every inch of my body – except possibly my hair – was completely spent.

I did a little more research on the IWT’s. This is the explanation of them from back when the Gym Jones site was free:

Developed by Pat O’Shea in 1969 and refined during the two following decades. A complete paper on the subject was published in the NSCA journal in 1987. Typically an IWT session involves a set of 8-12 reps of an “athletic lift” immediately chased with two minutes of free aerobic exercise @ 90-95% of capacity, followed by two minutes of rest. This is repeated for a total of three sets after which the athlete is rewarded with a 5-minute break. The first phase is repeated though the lift and the free exercise are changed. Recovery periods are the same. Phase three involves a circuit of complementary movements, often using bodyweight, with 4-12 reps and 3-10 rounds. IWT workouts may be scaled toward a particular fitness characteristic. For an endurance emphasis we increase the duration of the free exercise period to three minutes and reduce the rest period, all lifts are done with lighter loads and higher reps. To focus on power development we increase loads for the athletic lifts and reduce the reps, scale back the chasing aerobic exercise period (sometimes) and increase the rest periods to ensure “full” recovery.

As someone else pointed out, they are essentially Litinovs. Google Dan John + Litinovs and you can spend a solid afternoon sliding down that rabbit hole. I guess there is some controversy surrounding them. Some people love them, some people hate them, so-and-so talked to Litinov himself and he says he never did them, so-and-so talked to his coach and he say he did do them.

Whatever. I can tell you, for sure, with 100% accuracy, that I did them twice this week in the form of IWT workouts and I lost two pounds. Mind you, that’s nice, but this also happened smack in the middle of my period (when I usually gain 3-4 pounds) and while eating copious amounts of dark chocolate and M&M’s.

So there.

IWT

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Gym Jones Women’s Foundation Program I

Day 3

Ingredients: Kettlebell swings and push press, Air Dyne, pushups, burpees, situps, rowing, goblet squats, and farmer’s walks. Not necessarily in that order or combination.

The recipe: IWT

IWT, IWT… I kept seeing that term sprinkled throughout this program, and I had no idea what it meant. I Will Try? I Was Tired? I Was Terrified?

Turns out IWT means Interval Weight Training. Circuits. Stuff that makes you really tired. I made it through all but one set. I found it prudent to not do the last round of the circuit involving goblet squats, as my hip flexor sent me a couple of “I don’t think so!” suggestions periodically.

I will try, I was tired, and I was terrified are all apt descriptions of my experiences with this workout. I have no problem trying or being tired. Fatigue is just fatigue. It won’t kill you or hurt you, you just keep grinding it out until the end. I am however, terrified of injuring myself again. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, though. It will keep me honest about my abilities or lack thereof, and help me honestly assess how much I can or cannot do.