A treatise regarding The Outlaw Way training camps.
History and Approach
In November of 2011 I was discussing some movement issues with one of the off-site athletes I had been working with, Jeremy Murdock. He said that a large group of athletes from his gym, CrossFit Murfreesboro, had begun following the site and that a group from another local gym, CrossFit Rutherford, had begun following TOW and many of them were having issues regarding “doing things right”. The discussion led to me saying it would be a lot easier if I could get eyes on them, and we decided to try to figure out a way to do a clinic or “camp” so I could see the athletes in person. I posted something about the camp at CrossFit Rutherford, and we got quite a few responses from other gyms asking to host similar events. The first few camps were completely free of charge, then—realizing we’d need to cover travel expenses—we began to charge a fairly nominal fee for attendance. To imagine that the conversation I had with Jeremy—not much more than a year ago—would turn in to what it has today, is truly incomprehensible.
The pre-2012 Games camps were much more free-form and almost completely attended by athletes who were following the site. When I began to announce the post-2012 Games camps I quickly realized that we would need far more staffing, a legitimate schedule, and to develop a curriculum. With the help of our staff, based on what we thought were the most salient points for the success of the athlete/attendee, we developed the curriculum that we currently use for our camps. We put together a program of movement instruction largely based upon breaking down Weightlifting and Gymnastics to their most instructive and holistic essences, and used the “everything is everything” theme to tie all movement together. I wrote specific lectures regarding both our seasonal approach (with BP’s help and awesome power point), and the basics of the limited-conjugate method. We added a squat specific section as one of our building blocks for everything, and came up with a basic template of Weightlifting specific, Gymnastics specific, and general competition style workouts to use as a gauge to base discussions on movement issues, strategy and almost any other topic that would come up. I, and our staff, wanted to give the athletes/attendees as much bang for their money/time as possible, and I could not be more proud of the template we have put together.
The smaller, less-intensive pre-2012 Games camps gave me the opportunity to run everything as a one-man-show. When registrations started to pour in for the post-2012 Games camps I knew we’d need far more staffing, and we are blessed to have multiple in-house subject matter experts. Spencer, BP, Elisabeth, Michael Winchester, and many of our other athletes, have coaching resumes that are unparalleled. I also realized how important it was to have our Games athletes around at the camps to answer questions and simply be there for people to watch. There is nothing, in my opinion, that a coach can say that is as powerful as watching world-class athletes in action. I also realized that it was important for me to not be the only voice. I can and do coach the Weightlifting and Gymnastics portions of the camps (largely depending on staff), but when one of our “experts” is on the coaching floor I will always defer to them and try to add only when I pick up on issues I may have seen as an extra set of eyes. This system has worked very well, and the only issues we’ve had involve scheduling and the fact that most of our staff is not as free to travel as I am. We have again been blessed with the ability to use many of our other Games athletes to fill our roster of coaches when our regular staff could not travel. Daniel Tyminski has been a god-send as an addition to our staff (a very loud addition), Brandon Swan, Chad MacKay (the mayor of Australia), Colm O’Reilly (not a Games athlete, but a proper elite exercise nerd), Matt Hathcock, Kevin Simons, and many others have dedicated their time and energy to staffing our camps, and have all brought their multiple areas of expertise to athletes/attendees worldwide.
The purpose of our camps is fairly simple: we attempt to give each and every athlete/attendee an introduction to methodology and movement principles that have given our athletes the most success in their sport. I realized with the sheer size and volume of attendees that we’d have, that it was important to get principles across more than try to “fix” every athlete. We believe strongly if we can convey the salient points that I mentioned earlier, and can have athletes/attendees leave with a set of cues relating to overall purposeful movement and position adjustments, that the athlete will be able to develop a kinesthetic lexicon which will carryover to success in their sport and athletic endeavors. The nature and scope of the program we put together for these camps is something that we are constantly working on and constantly refining. I realize the difficulty in putting forward such a large endeavor, and we are constantly trying to assess where we can get more out of each three-day seminar.
The size and scope of our camps was one of the great debates amongst our staff and myself. I had a goal and dream to take what we do to as many people as possible, and make it as accessible as possible. I had many suggestions to charge more and do much smaller camps, but I personally felt that it was a better idea to do a more broad and introductory series, and then start to pair down our efforts into a more intimate setting. For me the deciding factor was the absolutely unbridled and overwhelming response we got once we started to post our camp dates. In my opinion it was a clear indication of the amount of athletes who were hungry to improve, and somehow utilize and implement the principles which had brought many of our athletes success. Probably the biggest issue with this response was that we had absolutely no infrastructure to handle the onslaught of registrations or the customer service issues that they brought on (I will address this later in the treatise). Nonetheless, the interest was there, so it became our task to try to bring an understanding of our set-forth purpose to everyone who wanted to spend three days with us.
Issues, Concerns, and Ways We Can Improve
I’m simply going to address this by listing some of the things we’ve gotten feedback about, and humbly trying to answer each of them with measures we have/are taking to improve each one.
Issues: This is obviously something that has been predicated by the unfortunate scenario which occurred during last week’s camp in Novato. If my knowledge of irony is anywhere near correct (not likely), the fact that a “doomsday” scenario happened at the only camp we’ve ever done with less than three full staff members, has got to be ironic. When the schedule was planned and we finalized every camp, I decided that we’d need three coaches to man every one. In an ideal world we’d have as many staff members as possible for every camp, but as I said earlier, everyone has day jobs and gyms to attend to, and I knew that with the way we’d set up the program for the camps, that three full coaches would be a good fit to provide the necessary elements of instruction. The problem we ran into in Novato, was simply that no one else was available. This is absolutely my fault for not making sure the camp was adequately staffed before booking it, and I will absolutely take the blame for it. As you all may well know, in this scenario, when things went bad, they went really bad. Two coaches, one unable to speak, and one in the hospital with heart monitors on, provided for my personal doomsday.
Solutions: We have already locked in and confirmed our staffing for the remaining roster of camps. We will have three-plus full coaches at each, and will hopefully never be hit by anything like a freak outbreak of ebola again. In the future we will have a traveling staff which will remain together for all camps (or whatever they become), and will simply not book dates which we have any issues staffing. Again, I take full blame for the failure in Novato, and realize that the bottom line is not about how sick I was, but is about the ability to give those attendees the camp they deserve.
Issues: As I stated earlier, we were completely lacking the infrastructure to handle the sheer volume of registrations, changes, emails, and overall customer service issues that came with us turning from a blog to a business overnight. We’ve been through a myriad of troubles with work emails, finding lists, and simply handling the questions which arise on a daily basis. Our troubles, however, should not ever be anyones concern but our own, and I will never use them as an excuse. We have simply failed to communicate as promptly as possible, and have let organization slide at times, when those things should be our number one priority.
Solutions: We have recently hired a full-time organizer to handled the day-to-day details of the camps (her name is Madeline in case you were wondering). This job has been passed around (and frankly no one really wanted it), and now has a dedicated person to handle all organizational tasks. The Info@TheOutlawWay.com account is the best way to contact “The Organizer”, Madeline. She will be handling all changes, questions, and rosters regarding camps. She will also be the one sending out any announcements or changes to the current rosters of attendees. Again, I apologize for our deficiencies in this area, but we will never allow things to fall through the cracks again, and if we do it will be Mady’s fault (kidding, I promise).
Issues: This is obviously an ongoing learning experience for everyone involved. It is basically a completely brand-new venture, and we will continue to take appropriate measures to develop everything we do. One of the hardest things to pin down and assess is the personal experience of each and every athlete. Even though these camps are more focused on conveying principles and specific movement points, we realize that many attendees are there to have the focus of, and interact with coaches and world-class athletes. This is something we’ve recently discussed as a staff, and have decided that in some instances we have not done a good enough job of making ourselves available to each and every person. This is completely unacceptable, and is something that I am not personally happy with.
Solutions: We have, as a staff, adopted a “coaching at its finest” principle, which can be summarized by the fact that we will make every effort possible to interact with as many people as possible on a personal level. I realize this is a no-brainer, and I feel that we have mostly done a good job of this up until this point, but now we are fully committed—in word and deed—to make every attendees experience the best it can possibly be from a personal experience standpoint. And yes, I am personally fully committing to this principle as well.
1) 5X3 Low Hang Clean (1″ off floor) + 1 Jerk – heaviest possible, rest 60 sec.
Notes: The Jerk comes after all 3 Cleans.
2a) 3X3 Push Press – absolute heaviest possible, rest 60 sec.
2b) 3X5 Pendlay Rows – heavier than last week, rest 60 sec. DEMO VIDEO
1) HBBS (based off 130129): 1X5 @ 70%, 1X5 @ 75%, 1X3 @ 80%, 1X3 @ 85%, 3X2 @ 90% – rest 1-2 minutes.
20 Front Squats @ 70%
Notes: Fronts Squats must be taken from the floor.