This past Friday, some co-workers and I headed up to Total Performance Sports in Everett, MA for some shits and giggles.
This was my first trip to this gym, and it was a sight to behold. Immediately upon walking in, I got a warm fuzzy feeling; like I was supposed to be there. We strolled around the gym taking it all in, and there was a lot to take in. Over here are elevated lifting platforms, here are our EliteFTS Collegiate Power Rack. There are the atlas stones and some strongman logs. 50 yard turf strip with Prowlers and drag sleds. Every specialty bar you could think of (my first time ever actually seeing a buffalo bar). Farmers walk handles, rickshaws and yokes. Chains, bands (wow, a gym that doesn't make their trainers buy their own bands!), GHR's. That? Oh, no big deal, just two EliteFTS monolifts. They have every single toy that a person could want or need to get bigger, faster, stronger or leaner.
We were there for the strongman equipment, and it was easy to find. The atlas stones were first on our list and the set-up was pretty cool. The stones we found were on a platform that was really just about a foot of rubber mats, so that when you dropped the stones it wasn't too loud (still pretty goddamn loud though). The three stones inside were, I think, 118 lbs, 160 lbs and 230 lbs. This was my first time doing the stones, so my "technique" was sub-optimal. Man Strength was used to lift 118, and 160 took a little bit of muscling around. 230 was a bear and I couldn't get the stone into my lap. Two of the guys with us had experience with stones, so we went to look for heavier ones. We were directed out back to the shed where there was more equipment.
That's right. This gym sent us outside to an un-monitored shed that was filled with atlas stones, tires, farmers walk handles, Prowlers, bars and plates; all intended to be used in the parking lot. This was such a foreign feeling to me. I've spent so much time in my cushy commercial gym lately, where the manager was hesitant to even get kettlebells (an implement he admits to being unfamiliar with) for fear that a member would hurt themselves with them. Yup, you read that correctly. FML.
We quickly got some tunes going in there, affording my coworker the ability to dance to keep her body-temp up, and sorted through the 15 or so stones to find the ones we could use. We played around with them for a while, working on speed and technique with some "light" stones. I believe the heaviest that I was able to get to my chest was 200 pounds. One of the guy's with us proceeded to mash his finger between a stone and the platform, scraping off a LOT of skin. He went inside to get it cleaned up, and the employee's only asked us to make sure we cleaned up any blood. That's right, no one freaked out and told us to stop for fear that we would sue. Just rub some dirt on it and clean up the blood.
When we finished with the stones we moved on to some farmers walks. Lately, loaded carries have been one of my favorite things to do, both with myself and with clients. I think our first walk was about 150 feet with maybe 260 pounds? We went through that twice. We then almost doubled the weight, and cut the distance by half. Dan and I were now doing our carries with, if my math is correct, 500 total pounds. The girls were doing theirs with 275. This weight was actually more than I have ever even deadlifted before. My first attempt to lift it resulted in no movement. I laughed for a second and then was reminded to stop being a pussy. I got serious and completed the lift and the walk, twice.
Covered in smiles and chalk, our crew went inside and spent some time doing log clean-and-presses. This was a pretty easy lift for me to learn, and I worked up to the log + 90 pounds for a few sets of triples. I have no idea what the log weighed, I just lifted it.
To finish up, we used my favorite thing in the world, the Prowler. Dan and I loaded up 270 on the push sled, and 135 (plus our coworker, Jen) on the drag sled. We pushed down and back, and then dragged down and back twice, with ample rest between each set. To say that my quads were blown after this would be the understatement of the century. As we laid around and recovered for a few minutes, I did something foolish and did a half-assed rope climb with my feet on the floor; intended to demonstrate how we could use a rope with our clients at the gym. This spawned a Man Challenge, of course. First was a rope climb from a seated position, then we did a double-rope climb, jumping your grip rather than going hand-over-hand. This is the kind of stupid stuff that competitive people do for no good reason.
All in all, this was one of the most fun workouts I've had in many moons. There was not enough food in the world to go into my body that night, nor enough sleep. I took a nap a few hours after finishing the workout and I woke up already sore. I'm writing this post on Sunday (worked out on Friday) and the soreness I'm experiencing is remarkable. My traps, mid-back and delts are just absolutely smoked. My forearms are covered in abrasions from the stones. My triceps shake when I try to support my own body-weight. I can't wait to do it again.
Try something new. Find a gym near you that has this kind of stuff, start slow but challenge yourself. Lifting heavy shit can be a load of fun!