• Misbah Haque

Power Monkey Fitness | Level Up Your Gymnastics Skills w/ David Durante

“It can’t be stated enough how important body awareness is to truly appreciate what your body is supposed to be doing within the movement. There’s normally an enormous disconnect between what someone thinks is happening versus what it actually looks like.” - David Durante

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Gaining the ability to move your body at will through the movement as opposed to the movement moving you.

  • Breaking down movements into finer components using the four phases of movement

  • Should prep, wrist, and elbow health

And most importantly I think Dave brings a passionate perspective to gymnastics for CrossFitters. I’m sure you will walk away with a whole new appreciation for the way your body moves.

Show Notes:

  • Background in gymnastics (1:50)

  • Tapping into the CrossFit world (3:33)

  • Origins and evolution of Power Monkey Fitness (5:00)

  • What is the “Ring Thing” aka the Dream Machine? (6:35)

  • Breaking down movements into finer components (7:50)

  • Preferred scaling options for HSPU in a daily class setting (9:37)

  • Leveling up progressions to push advanced athletes (12:35)

  • Hierarchy of movement: Four Phases (13:45)

  • Challenging advanced athletes in areas they don’t see in CF workouts (15:15)

  • Approaching flexibility w/ consistency (15:55)

  • Core work beginning with two vital positions (17:17)

  • Role of eccentric and isometric strength in gymnastics for CF (18:10)

  • The missing link of body awareness (19:12)

  • Why using video for gymnastics is extremely valuable (20:00)

  • General time frame it takes to see improvement (21:55)

  • General Physical Preparedness for gymnastics (23:45)

  • What does the transfer look like in Oly lifts, Power lifts, and metcons? (26:00)

  • Most common injuries in gymnastics vs gymnastics in CF (27:45)

  • Should health, prep, warm-up (29:18)

  • Wrist & elbow pain from gymnastics (31:41)

  • Biggest influences (34:00)

  • Summer camp for adults (37:47)

  • Clinics (40:45)

  • Something Dave doesn’t get asked enough (42:10)

  • 15-minute routine to help your body be more capable for anything you will require of it (44:00)

People mentioned:

  • Coach Greg Glassman

  • Ido Portal

  • Yuval Ayalon

Resources we may have talked about:

  • Ring Thing

  • Core Work videos

  • Theraband Shoulder Warm-Up Sequence

  • Theraband Resistance Bands

  • 15-minute routine (Core, Flexibility, Handstands)

  • Powermonkeycamp.com

  • Clinics Information

How you can connect with Dave:


Hey guys, this is Dave Duranti and you're listening to the airborne mind show.


Hey guys, Misbah Haque, here today, be


Talking with David Duranti of Howler monkey fitness. He is currently running the power monkey camp in Tennessee, which I'm sure you've heard a lot about if not, he's going to dive into a little bit about that in this episode, but we're also going to be talking about how you can level up your gymnastic skills. So whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced athlete, we're going to be talking about breaking down movements into finer components using Dave's four phases of movement and how that applies to each of those levels. We're going to be talking about gaining the ability to move your body at will through the movement, as opposed to the movement moving you. We're also going to chat about shoulder prep, wrist, and elbow health to prevent injuries. And most importantly, I think Dave brings a very passionate perspective to gymnastics for CrossFitters. I'm sure you're going to walk away with a whole new appreciation about the way your body moves. So before we get started head over to the airborne mind.com to sign up for your weekly athlete digest, we also chat a lot about certain videos that we might be referencing that is at power monkey, fitness.com, but I've also taken that and link them up in the show notes, which you can check out at the airborne mine.com as well. So with that being said, please enjoy Dave. Welcome to the show, man.


Thanks, man. I appreciate you having me on. Yeah. So


For those who may not know, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in gymnastics.


Sure, sure. I'll try to keep it brief. I grew up in New Jersey on the East coast. Grew up doing a ton of different sports. Gymnastics is the one that kind of stuck. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to Stanford university out on the West coast in California. I moved from the East to the West. I went to Stanford for, I was on the team for four years. I stuck around for a fifth year while I continued to train. I just missed out on the Athens Olympic team. And from there move to the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs. I lived there for four and a half years from 2004 through to 2008. And during that time I was a national champion a few times and all around and a couple of different events. I was on a few world championship teams was part of the Olympic team in 2000, 2008, then went over to Beijing.


I was the alternate for that team. And then after I retired after Beijing, I moved back to Stanford and hope coach, a team to a national championship in 2009, which was the first one in 14 years. And after that I moved to Italy. I moved to Europe, I'm Italian citizen, and I moved to Italy for a couple of years where I coached a little bit at some local gyms in Rome and then moved back and I've held a position with USA gymnastics where I'm the athlete representative and a member of the USA Gymnastics board of directors, as well as with the us Olympic committee. I am a, the athlete representative for both the men's and the women's team with USA gymnastics I'm with the Olympic committee. And I am also on the selection committee for the Olympic team and for world championship teams with USA gymnastics men's team. So I stay pretty active on the gymnastics even afterward.


Yeah. What a journey, man. That's awesome. So how did you kind of get into CrossFit or working with CrossFitters and just kind of tap into that world?


Sure. So after I retired I moved back to Sanford. Like I mentioned, it was coaching team and I was just trying to stay in shape, figure out what I wanted to do next after retiring. And I started doing my own circuit training similar to what we would do in a regular gymnastics world. And I kind of got a little bit bored with the same routine I was doing over and over into in the gym, waiting for the guys to come in and train. And I kind of went online and I found CrossFit and I was like, you know, this is what I want to be doing. This is kind of right up my alley. And fortunately one of my buddies had just opened up a garage gym and he was kind of training people out of his garage and was still kind of in the early days across it, this is the end of 2008 and kind of picked up from there and slowly snowballed into me saying, Hey, you know what, there's some information out there that I think I have that people would kind of would be useful for other people.


So I and Chad Vaughn started doing dual weightlifting and gymnastics seminars. I don't know how much you know about Chad, but Chad was pretty active in the CrossFit world as well on two-time Olympian in the Olympic weightlifting world. And and then me and Chad started doing those for a couple of years and it kind of snowballed into something bigger and bigger CrossFit called up and asked if I wanted to kind of help out with some of their media stuff and break down some technique for them. So I went out to Santa Cruz and shot some videos for them and help to guide some of their higher-level athletes through some movements. And then yeah, it got bigger and bigger. And then I moved into the power monkey stuff. Yeah.


Cool. Well so tell us a little bit more about power monkey and kind of how that came about and what you guys are up to now. There's lots of stuff going on, you're doing clinics, camps, programming, all that good stuff.


Yeah. Was a lot of stuff. So just again, I'll try and keep it brief. It is a lot of info, but caramel Keith was an existing company out of Florida, kind of a mom-and-pop shop that were making equipment. They were making kind of rigs and some other things. And my partner Shane and I asked Shane was a high level gymnast himself. And it's now stuntmen in Hollywood and much of TV shows out here in New York. And we had an idea for a ring training device. It's a, it's a device that we kind of use in the gymnastics world quite a bit, but normally you just go to kind of a hardware store, put a bunch of crap together and you know, try to use it as a training tool. And we wanted to make one that was a little bit more high-end that was more appropriate for what we were seeing in the CrossFit world.


And we shot the idea around a bunch of different manufacturers and power monkey was the one that showed the most interest. And that was our ring thing. And a ring thing is kind of our biggest item that we sell on the product side. And so it became more involved with power monkey from there, and they liked our ideas and they brought us on as partners. And then about two years ago, Shane and I bought them out and we became sole owners of the company and kind of moved it into a more gymnastics and you know, general body awareness, body fitness type, type of a company. And from there, we kind of broke it into three pillars, the equipment side, the events side, and the education side.


Very cool. Tell me a little bit more about the rank thing.


Yeah. The ring thing is a so in the gymnastics world, if you go around any especially male gymnasts, you'd probably hear them calling a dream machine. Dream machine is kind of what we call it in our world. And it basically allows you to do things you'd only be able to do in your dreams. But it works through a pulley system. It's a harness around your waist and works through a police system. So when you pull down on the rings, it lifts your body off the ground. So basically it takes away 50% of the body weight from the equation from doing any type of movement. And so it's kind of a self spot. So you can work on technique. You can work on slowing things down to really understand how movement is supposed to be done through some really technical movements. And then as you get stronger and stronger, you add additional body weight to start making it more and more challenging. We use it a lot in the gymnastics worlds for higher-level movements, things like multi-six and in verdict crosses and crosses and things like that to get prepared to do them on the actual rings. But we found a lot of value in using it for people learning rings for the first time and things like pull-ups dips, muscle-ups, and some other of the, you know, things that are considered basic in the gymnastics world, but are still very challenged to do if you didn't come from that back.


That's awesome. And I'll, I'll link a video. I'll look for a video and link that up in the show notes so people can check that out. So now when you're trying to build like sufficient strength, right? For, let's say handstand, pushups, pull-ups or whatever movements, it might be what's like, what's the approach that you're taking? Like what types of drills and exercises are you using to help build that prerequisite strength?


Well, firstly, it depends on the movement. Are you talking about, you know, a handstand pushup, you're talking about a specific skill. You want to break it down to its finer components. So it's really not rocket science. And I think people kind of overanalyze a lot of things. What we want to do is first understand what the basic movement is supposed to look like from a movement pattern perspective. And from there building exercises and as many progressions as you possibly can to allow that person to start mechanically, understanding how their body should be moving. And from there, you can start increasing the difficulty. What we see most people doing is jumping to the final version or jumping to the most difficult progression prior to understanding the 10 previous versions and understanding how to implement them correctly. And that's where we start to see a deficit happen at the final application of it.


So really no matter what movement you're trying to, it comes back to understanding what it's supposed to look like from a foundational standpoint, what are the progressions to get to that final step and checking those off along the way, saying, okay, I can do this one proficiently, I'm ready to move on to the next. I can do that officially and move on. So I think that's, that's one of the keys that we're trying to establish is giving people the tools to say, okay, these are the progressions that you need to be understanding and doing correctly before you expect to be able to do a strict handstand pushup or a ring handstand pushup for a deficit and sand pushup. It's not going to happen on the day and the first day you try it. And I think people are again, are, are anticipating or expecting that to happen without having a prerequisite. Right


Now, let's say in a daily class setting you know, the workout of the day, let's say there are handstand pushups. What would be your preferred scaling options for these?


Well, I think the first thing that you're going to see is a lot of people thinking has them pushups and automatically going to a kipping handstand pushup. And I would generally stay away from that right off the bat. Keeping us in pushup is really for the purposes more for competition than it is really a building strength. And I think that's one of the things that kind of gets caught in the way. A lot of times for people progressing properly is this idea that they're all going to the CrossFit games and you really have to have a separation between your client and your member who is there for the quality of life versus the person who is there to go to compete in the open regionals and games. And really the approach to those two is significantly different. And if you're having somebody that can barely do 10 pushups, some barely hold themselves up against the wall in a handstand position and saying, you're having 10 rounds of 10 ASN pushups today.


We'll Kip through them just so you get through the workout and you can put a score up on the board. It's really defeating the purpose of really understanding how they're going to get better at these movements, how they're going to get stronger. And that should be the objective. So what you're always going to do in my case, if I was ever teaching a class and that came up, I would be putting them something where they can move through the pattern correctly and something where they're going to be doing a district. So for me, moving through and trying to put the fastest time up on the board, it's less of a concern than getting through the movements with the correct technique. So I'm with a handstand pushup. I kind of go through a bunch of different variations. The first one, would it be kind of a pike handstand pushup, or a downward dog version where their, the feet are still on the ground, hands were on the ground.


And the objective is to create a good tripod shape. So a good handstand pushup, one that's correct from a technical standpoint is activating the base of the tricep much more than you would normally anticipate when you're doing it inefficiently up against the wall. So it's creating a good tripod where your head is out in front of your hands, equal distance from your hands being apart from each other. So you're creating basically an equinus and triangle. And I think that's a missing piece for most people, they're doing his pushups up against the wall and their head is in line with their hands because they can get away with it because feet are being spotted by the wall, which doesn't happen when you try to move that handstand pushup away from the wall, which is what I hope every one's goal eventually is to move towards the highest level version of these movements. So building the pie pattern of that tricep, if that means doing it from a downward dog, that's where you're starting or from your knees, and then moving towards a box where your hips are a little bit more in the inverted position. And then from there building towards being able to do it with with the wall itself. But for most people, I think they'd be much better served doing some of the scaling options, both better technique as opposed to blessing through, up against the wall with giving.


Right. Okay. Now how does this kind of level up for the more advanced athlete? Let's say they can bang out Tosta bar. No problem. They can do butterfly pull-ups. Maybe they even have a few muscle-ups. What are you using at this point to kind of push their skills and push their limits?


Well, again, a lot of it has to do in it's individual-based and that's where it becomes a little bit of a challenge is that you have to assess each person according to what their strengths and weaknesses are. We see a lot of people that came from backgrounds where strength was a big base of the sport that they were doing from before, but maybe their flexibility is horrendous. Maybe they're not able to get into the correct positions. That's going to require that there'll be required to allow them to move to higher-level versions or higher level movements. So we'd normally do kind of an overall assessment say, okay, what are your strength levels? What is your core level, your core strength levels and all of these various movements? And then what are your flexibility within all of these movements? And then from there, we can kind of build a better picture as to how to attack potential deficiencies and how to ramp up in areas where, you know, we're going to push the limits and start working on some higher-level movements.


I don't know if you've ever seen it before, but I've mentioned it before in some other interviews that I've done, but I kind of have a hierarchy of gymnastics movement in terms of how I think people should learn gymnastics skills. It's kind of four different phases. Phase one is about the creation of body shapes. And what that means is broken down into two different things. The first part is core strengthen, incorporating more core centric movement into your training. A strong core leads a strong movement. Most people don't spend enough time specifically on their core though their work on abs because that's what they can see in the mirror, but they neglect it flex there's oblique, supposed to your chain, glutes, hamstrings, lower back. Everything that really encompasses that midline along with the core-centric movement is flexibility. Being able to put your body in the positions that we're going to require of it.


And if you don't have that flexibility, you're going to end up compensating. And that compensation leads to unnecessary stress, which leads to injury in a lot of areas. So if you don't have those two key components, core strength and flexibility, you're limiting your ability to move to higher-level movements. So once those are in place, then you move on to phase two, which is static and control holds three dynamic action. And four is the completion of it all which is creation of sequences, complexes, and routines. But I don't know if I'm going off on a tangent here answering your question, but I think it's important to note that those things are all needed to be, they all need to be incorporated into someone's training. If they want to achieve higher level movement, you know, someone who's a regional or games level competitor. What I try to do with those types of athletes is keep things very for them, which is very important because there are so many movements and so many things that they're working on in the CrossFit world that it's very hard to target specific movements because they're, they're doing 20 different things on a daily basis.


So I keep things fairly varied and I'm touching on a lot of different movements regularly throughout their week's training. And I always try to challenge them in areas that they normally wouldn't get in a regular CrossFit workout. So I throw exercises and movements at them that they don't see on a regular basis quite often all within their realm of capability, but definitely challenging the new ways.


Very cool. Now speaking of flexibility, what's your approach for helping somebody, you know, get the appropriate flexibility needed to be able to perform some of these movements.


So flexibility just like strengthening, it's all about consistency and it needs to be a part of your regular training if you want to actually see improvement. And I think that's one of the areas that we see a lot of lacking for most people is incorporating these things on a regular basis. I tell people that you should be doing core flexibility in some type of handstand exercises every day. And my recommendation with flexibility specifically is some it's something that you should be doing at the end of your workouts. And we're seeing a lot of people kind of stretch and, and, and do a lot of flexibility work prior as part of their warmups, which I think can sometimes be a detriment if they're, they're doing it incorrectly. Prior to a workout, it's more about warming up and just getting the core temperature of the body prepared for that day's workout, as opposed to at the end of the workout is where you're really pushing the barrier and pushing past the point of just maintaining your flexibility. So at the end of a workout, when your body is warmed up and your muscle fibers are prepared to be elongated, that's when you can get the most out of your flexibility work, where you're sitting in positions for a little bit longer, you're working on different stretching, active stretching, passive stretching, PNF. You can work on different options in different methods, but I prefer to see that the end of the workout, as opposed to in the beginning of the workout. Okay.


And for core work, what are some of the staples that you would like to see people working on


Endless there are endless amounts? There's the P the two positions that we try to get people to understand the most in terms of foundational for gymnastics is the hollow position in the arch position. And those are kind of movements and exercises associated with just those two positions can be broken down endlessly. So they're really, the variety is can kind of go to and nauseum, but it's more about doing it regularly than, than anything else. And you know, on our video database, on our power monkey website, we have over a thousand videos spread up into a lot of different categories, but the amount that we have in the core section will probably give you a good kind of a idea as to some of the exercise that we'd like to incorporate. Now we throw out our clients pretty often.


Very cool, and I'll get that linked up as well. Okay. Now how much of a role does ecentric and isometric strength play for gymnastics and CrossFit


In the gymnastics world, it's hugely important. It's incredibly important. And that's actually that phase two and my hierarchy of gymnastics movement, phase two is static hold and controlled movement, which is essentially what you're talking about. East-centric, movement, isometric holds. I think it's one of those things that gets glossed over a lot in the CrossFit world, because we're so fascinated with sexy movement and what I call phase three at dynamic auction that we know normally gloss over phase two. And that's where you actually build stability within the movement. That's the phase. Those are the movements where you actually gain control, where you gain the ability to move your body at will through the movement, as opposed to movement moving you, if that makes any sense. So the objective should always be being in control of your body, being able to place your body where you want to, as opposed to the movement dictating your body positions.


Okay. Now how important is like just body awareness for you? Because there's one thing I feel like to be able to get into the shape of like a hollow position or an arch position. But there's another to know exactly how to turn tension on and keep it on. And I feel like that gets glossed over a little bit too.


I think it gets glossed over and I think that's one of the missing links for most people. I, it can't be stated enough how important body awareness is to truly appreciate what your body is supposed to be doing within the movement. There's normally an enormous disconnect between what someone thinks is happening versus what it actually looks like. And so that disconnect, what we try to do as coaches is to try to bridge that gap is to help you understand through progressions through tools, through consistent training, to be able to say, okay, this is what I think is happening. This is what's actually happening. How can I start to bring those two points together? And a couple of the tools that we use, one of the things that I, I stress endlessly is videotaping yourselves more. And I see people doing it in the CrossFit world and just in the gym in general with Olympic weightlifting lifts all the time, they'll set up their phone, they'll set up their iPad and they'll, they'll analyze every single inch of a specific lift to really see where the inefficiencies are being created.


But very, very few of those people are doing the same thing for the gymnastics movements. And I'm not quite sure why that's happening. And it could be that people don't really know what to look for when they're looking or analyzing gymnastics movement. You know, it might be a little bit too complex for them and they just look a handstand and say, okay, I'm upside down. It looks good to me. Right. But we need people to be able to start analyzing more so that they can start seeing the differences between correct and incorrect. And the other thing that we stress quite a bit and something we use a ton in the gymnastics world is working with partners and learning how to spot each other, because what that does, it allows your partner to be your eyes within the movement when you're in a handstand and where you're in a position where you don't know what your body's supposed to be doing, someone from the outside can start to manipulate your body into the position that you're supposed to be in and say, this is where you're supposed to be, feel what that's like.


And that's what we do in the gymnastics world to help someone understand positions and understand how to learn things correctly, whenever I'm spotting someone. And I do the movement for them, you know, and I kind of helped them through the position. They always kind of get like, well, yeah, I made it because you did it for me. It was like, that's exactly what's supposed to happen. That's how you learn something in the gymnastics world. I'm there as a spotter, I'm putting you through the position so you can understand how it all happens. And then slowly I'll ease off. You do more and more on your own. And then eventually you kind of take off it's like training wheels. And I think sometimes people look at it as too much of a crutch or too much of a handicap, but that's exactly how the learning process works. So you kind of got to get over that, that phase of thinking that you're doing it incorrectly or doing with a spot is somehow beneath you and start to see the value in it.


Right. Okay. Now of course, this is going to be, you know, different for every individual, but I'm curious, you've gotten to work with such a diverse range of athletes. Have you noticed that there's a kind of like a general time period where you start to see these adaptations and improvements kind of transfer over to you know, the daily wads, for example, like can cause a lot of this stuff, if people aren't already doing it, when they start doing it, they may notice progress fairly quickly? So I'm just curious if you, if you have found a certain timeframe, like, you know, four or five weeks where you're like, wow, I can really start to feel a difference at this point.


Yeah. That's a good question. I think a lot of it, again comes down to the idea of consistency. I think people are sometimes shocked when, you know, they've been working on a movement one day a week for six months and they haven't seen much progress and it's not going to happen that way. You need to be doing it fairly regularly throughout each week to be able to really see the improvements with our monkey method, with our online programming, we split it up into either four-week blocks or five week blocks. And we think that that's a sufficient amount of time to start seeing some improvement. It will be kind of a snowballing effect that gymnastics is about incremental gains, that small baby steps. So you will start seeing some improvement a month, two months in, but only if you're doing it on a very regular basis. And that doesn't mean that you have to be doing it every single day. I do think, as I mentioned previously, that if you spend 15 minutes on a daily basis doing core work flexibility and some handstand, that's going to be a good overall kind of just body awareness strengthening series that you can do regularly. But if you're doing it three, four a week in the beginning, then you're going to be able to start seeing some improvement within a month to two months.


Very cool. Now how do, how do these four-week five-week blocks work in the sense that are we aiming to improve certain movements or like what's the structure look like for that? So if somebody comes to you and they're like, Oh, I want to get you know, strict handstand pushups. And then somebody else is like, okay, I want to be able to do strict. Pull-Ups like, how do they choose like what are your options for that pretty much.


So it might seem a little complicated if you go on the website. So I'll try to simplify it as much as possible. The options that we have up there right now is just our monkey method. Gymnastics. We have our lifting plans too, which are written by Chad Vaughn and Mike service, one of our other Olympic weightlifting coaches. But on the weight, on the gymnastics side, the program that we have up there right now is more of a GPP for gymnastics. So general physical preparedness for gymnastics specific skills. So it's not skill-specific. So you, if you want to learn a handstand pushup, if you want to learn a muscle, that's not really the intention of the program. It's more about creating body awareness. It's about creating flexibility. It's about creating overall strength. And that's really the approach that we take with the program. That's up right now, we are in the process of creating skill-specific plans, and there'll be coming out in the next couple of months, but the one that's up there right now is more general overall body awareness, kind of an approach.


It's broken down into blocks. And I mentioned that the, each block is five weeks of programming where you'll be doing four weeks straight. And then the fifth week will be a, an assessment or a retest week. Will you be going through and seeing how you improved on all the movements you worked on for that previous month? There's three levels. There's a beginner and intermediate and advanced beginner and intermediate are three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, you can split it up however you want. And then the advanced is six days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday are the harder days. Tuesday, Thursday are more based around core enhancement and work. And then Saturdays are conditioning days. Now, along with that, we also broke, broke them up into three block chunks that fall along that same hierarchy that I mentioned earlier. So blocks one through three are basically around the idea of creation of body shapes and flexibility blocks. Four through six are static holds and controlled movement blocks seven through nine or more dynamic actions, swinging techniques, understanding the idea of just kipping and then blocks 10 through 12. We'll be encompassing all of the creation of the other of sequences, complexes, and routines. I hope that wasn't too much information, but that's basically how it all breaks down.


It's perfect. Now I'm curious, like, what have you noticed? What does the transfer look like from doing all this GPP work for gymnastics into, you know, Olympic lifts, power lifts and just the daily wads?


So our, our mentality, and I think it's what you hear from most gymnastics coaches and even a lot of CrossFitters that have been around for a while. Gymnastics, be the basis for all, all of your other movements. If you can't control your body with any external loads, there's no way that you can anticipate or expect to be able to do it with a barbell overhead or a kettlebell or any other external load. So the idea is that if you can get your body and you can get more capable with moving just your body, you're going to be much more capable once you encounter some of these other more complex movements in the CrossFit world. So we look at gymnastics as the foundational portion of your movement. If gymnastics is the foundational basis of your movement, you are going to move better through everything else. So we look at us having great transferability to all the other movements and other skills that you're going to be seeing in the CrossFit world.


Yeah. I mean, I can totally see that. And I, that's why I feel like a lot of gymnast's or people who have a background in gymnastics when they tap into CrossFit, they seem to catch on so much faster.


Absolutely. I hear coaches all the time. We're doing these clinics so often these days and I owe the coaches and the owners always mentioned to me, they're like, we love when, when a gymnast comes in, you know, we can just see them right off the bat. They might not be the strongest. They might not be able to move a barbell the way in an Olympic weightlifter, but they just have the ability to move their body more efficiently because they have the years and years of training of understanding how to move their body in specific ways that end up translating into them, learning more movements, more efficiently. Right.


Now in terms of injuries, like what have you, and we can talk about, let's say just gymnastics solely first what is the most common injury in gymnastics? And then how about when you look at kind of gymnastics for CrossFit, if it's a different yeah,


Sure. So personally, and what I'm seeing kind of in the gymnastics world are a little bit different. Personally, I've had significant knee issues, my entire career and my legs were always a weakness for me. I've blown out my knees three times, ACM cell and ACL MCL meniscus twice on my left one once am I right? So my, my lower half when my knees were always a biggest issue, I've broken my ankles six, seven times. So my legs were always my weak point. From a more general standpoint, the biggest issue that we see in the gymnastics world, especially on the men's side are shoulder injuries, shoulder injuries are incredibly common. Unfortunately. so what we ended up doing is we spend an incredible amount of time on doing shoulder prep work. So every single day we'll do 20, 30 minutes of just shoulder prep work before we actually get into the workout itself. So that we're prepared for the extreme movements that we're going to be requiring our body.


Yeah. And that's kinda what I wanted to ask you was like what does the warmup look like for just, you know, overall shoulder health, like before even tap into any of this? Like what types of things are you doing to make sure you're super warm and good to go?


Yeah. I mean, you're going to be looking at it from a kind of a skewed viewpoint because you know, what I'll mention here is more from the perspective of a professional athlete, someone who does full day, it revolves around training at the highest level. This is really wouldn't apply so much to someone who's just trying to get a workout in, in an hour, but normally warmups normally take an hour to an hour and a half sometimes longer. And we do that once or twice a day, depending on, you know, how heavy duty on a training is. So, you know, when you're in the gym, seven, eight hours a day training at a very high level, you can afford to do a significant amount of time of prep work. The recommendation for someone who's more in the gym for quality of life purposes is to create a routine.


And specifically, a routine that I think is easy to do easy to remember that won't take up an incredible amount of time. The one that I kind of use very often with my clients and we talk about a lot in our clinics is the TheraBand sequence that I used to use as an athlete. And I still use on a daily basis today. Therabands, if you ever go to a gymnastics gym or competition, you'll see every single athlete with one it's kind of their baby. It's something that we use with us and holding one up for no matter where we go, I have them with me. They're an incredible tool and I have a specific sequence that takes about five minutes to do that will be the best five minutes that I can give to someone in terms of shoulder preparation. And this idea about being proactive about injury as, as opposed to always being reactionary to what the injuries and, and always being you know, concerned once the injury presents itself, as opposed to being a pre-AP proactive and being a precautionary weapon in a different sense. Right. Cool.


Do you happen to have any videos of that lying around?


Yeah. We have our whole Thurman sequence online. We have one that goes through the entire sequence on our video database, under the warmup and conditioning pages. And then we also have it broken down to their event, sequence one and their event sequence to it's basically just easier for people to kind of digest the whole entire sequence since. And so we stopped breaking it down into sections a little easier for people.


Awesome. And I'll get that linked up too. Now how about what I notice is elbow tendonitis and wrist pain. What, where is that coming from? What can you do to kind of prevent that? I know it's kind of a vague question but in your experience.


I wouldn't say it's a vague question. It's fairly common. It's, it's just something that needs to be taken in consideration. The elbow is something that I think people neglect in terms of understanding how important the connective tissue around the elbow is to creating efficient positions, especially as it pertains to gymnastics, but along with Oli as well, the overhead position being fully locked out, you're going to see it a lot with overhead positions, whether that's snap script, or just a, you know, clean grip as well. You're going to see a lot of tension, a lot of stress being put on, on the elbow, especially kind of in that UCL area when you're doing anything overhead. So what it comes down to is conditioning that connected tissue can condition the tendons and ligaments in there to be able to withstand the stress that you're going to be, you know coming in contact with when you're doing a lot of gymnastics or overhead positions.


So what we do is just do a lot of, again, it comes down to like static holds a lot of controlled movement. Don't go through a lot of these movements to dynamically at first, so that your tendons can prepare for the more extreme movements. And then also work through full range of motion. There's kind of two limitations when it comes to being able to create a full efficient lockdown joint. One is not being able to lock out fully, which generally comes out to someone who is very strong, that has done a lot of pulling in their days, but never gone to full extension. And they're kind of locked up into that position where they have a slight kink in their elbow. So we'll incorporate a lot of exercises to help open up that joint. So it gets them more towards a fully locked out elbow position at the opposite extreme to that is someone who is hypermobile, someone that can go beyond that has kind of that that hyper joint that can go well past 180 degrees from the elbow. And from there, they're going to be spending much more time with stability with, with doing exercises that you know, more controlled movements, more static holds, whether that's just that applying or in a support position on parallel bars or dip bars, things like that, building the connective tissue to be able to withstand what we're going to be expecting out of that joint. Once we get into more dynamic action, right.


Now who are your biggest influences when it comes to, you know, just maybe learning more about gymnastics or CrossFit, whatever you love learning more about who do you kind of look to?


I think there are a few people that really stand out in this space, you know, coming from the gymnastics world, I had my idols growing up in terms of the technical pieces of the gymnastics side. And then my coaches played an integral role in my learning from when I was six years old, when I started gymnastics all the way up until now. So from the technical side of gymnastics, I have to revert back to my coaches, my club coaches, back in New Jersey, my college coaches at Stanford, my Olympic training center coaches, all of them played a very, very important role in not only me being an athlete, but me understanding the technical side of the sport. And I think I owe everything to them in terms of understanding how the body moves. I was fortunate enough to I studied human biology and sports medicine at Stanford.


So my academic background fits in pretty well with what I'm doing in the sports world now. But from a technical side, it really comes down to the coaches that I spent my entire career with looking now into the, this more fitness space. There's some other people that really stand out and I kind of towards in terms of learning, continuing to understand how the body can kind of work into some new movements guys that stand out. I'm sure if you're a movement expert, you know, who [inaudible] is? I think he's incredible. I think one of the things that we've always been trying to strive to do in the gymnastics world is bring gymnastics to more people. And while he doesn't necessarily come from a strict gymnastics background, you know, he does a lot of gymnastics movements and he, you know, praises, gymnastics training and things like that.


And I think it's incredibly important to see someone at his level be able to succeed and show other people how incredible gymnastics can be for no matter what you're doing. He stands out. I mean, I would be wrong not to mention coach Glassman founder of CrossFit as absolutely instrumental in really having people see gymnastics in a new light coach. Glassman was a gymnast himself. I've been fortunate enough to have some conversations with him about this stuff and to see the value that he sees in gymnastics and be able to bring that to the masses, you know, millions of people all over the world now being interested in getting upside down and doing handstands and, and putting up rings in their gyms. I mean, the gymnastics community owes quite a bit to coach classmen to be able to expose and bring our world to people that didn't grow up with it.


So those are some people that I think have added incredible value to the gymnastic role that I look like that I look up to in terms of getting information from the handstand side. One of them that I look at all the time, his name is Yuval. I don't know if you guys know who he is. He was a gymnast while I was at Stanford, he was at the university of Illinois training. And now he's become an expert in handstands. And he was a Cirque de Solei performers names. You've all at yawn. It's a Y a L a L O N. He's fantastic. I like to think my handstands are a strength of mine, but his handstands are at a level that are just phenomenal, that he makes it he's an artist with handstands. So for me he's someone that I look up to in the, in the world of perfecting my hands down. And he's such a humble, hardworking incredible, incredibly generous person with his, his knowledge information. And so for, for anything handstands, I like to go to him for my info.


Awesome. now your camps look insane. Like there is so much going on there it's very comprehensive and I won't make you tell me exactly everything that's in it. You can check that out on the site, but how did that kind of come about? And what does that look like? Does that happen only once a year?


It happens twice a year. So our camp is a, yeah, it's turned into something much bigger than we were initially anticipating. The camp itself is held twice a year. We do one on the fall. We're actually leaving in two days to get all prepped up. It starts on, on Sunday. We do one in the fall and then one again in the spring it's held always in Tennessee at a camp that's owned by two Olympic gymnasts, friends of mine that John Robinson Bergen, John McCreedy and they run the camp for little kids to do gymnastics in the summers and then through the rest of the year, or they really don't use it all day off. They use it for weddings and other retreats and things like that. But we kind of had this idea of, you know, why don't we use this amazing space and bring in some people who are really into the same things that we are and see if we can bring in some of the best minds in all these different areas. And we thought the idea was great. We were willing to go out on a limb and you know, put it together knowing that the first couple of camps would be at a pretty significant loss. And it snowballed into something that I like to think is kind of a must do for anyone that is into the CrossFitter or the gymnastics or the movement world. That's pretty phenomenal week of training. And happy to talk about it more if you want.


Yeah. The cap on that, how many people are allowed at these camps?


We do a cap of a hundred participants and 50 coaches, staff, guests, athletes, and we've sold out for this camp and it's going to be phenomenal. We, it really is a summer camp for adults. I mean, there's cabins, you're sleeping in beds you know, beds as if you were sleeping in a cabin as a kid and wake up every day. We have an amazing chef that cooks meals for everybody. Throughout the, throughout the week, we have a 32 acre Lake where you can go down and swim and kayak and paddleboard and all these other outdoor activities along with it, we've got 150 acre campus, but people come for the training specifically in the coaching, but there are tons of other things to be doing around the campsite.


What's your favorite part of the whole camp?


Oh my God. That's hard to answer. Cause I'm normally running around camp, like a crazy person doing like 20 different jobs, making sure everybody else is having a good time. But I love the end of the days when everyone is kind of finishing up training and we have kind of campfires and things are winding down for the day and we can relax and everyone's had an awesome day of training as an exhaustive, but everybody's like enjoying themselves. And for me, that's a chance for me to kind of sit back and relax and, and really enjoy what everyone else is doing throughout the week.


Now, your clinics look pretty awesome too. And the thing that I like about it is that you have so many different options and focuses for the types of clinics that you're offering. Like you have one specifically for handstands, then you have them coupled with maybe handstands and Olympic weightlifting or, or the smash maybe. But what is the most popular one that you've noticed? What do you get a lot of requests for?


So we get a lot of requests for the one-day gymnastics clinic, which is you know, we, we do have a lot of options and we do have some that are Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics together. We do some that are just Olympic weight lifting similar, just gymnastics with our staff. A lot of the coaches that come to camp are on our, our clinic staff as well. We also have the option that brings in some of our DBTs. Our two DPTs are fantastic. They're incredibly knowledgeable. They are both CrossFitters and, and one did Kalita gymnast himself, and the other one was a powerlifter and strong man and they are incredibly knowledgeable and we add those onto options for clinics as well. But in terms of popularity, I'd say the one day gymnastics it's pretty popular as well as the two options that we give with muscle up and snatch and clean and jerk enhancements. Those are the ones that kind of have the biggest you know, the most numbers when people sign up. Right.


Now, is there something that you feel like you don't get asked enough and something that you like to talk about?


Oh, that's an interesting question. What I would always go back to, and this is probably something, you know, you'll hear this endlessly is just the idea of the importance of the basics. And I get asked questions more based around higher-level movement, without people asking me the important prerequisite questions. And it, it, it more has to do with people moving a hundred miles an hour when they should be doing things in slow motion. So I think the questions that I prefer, people asking me when they're asking me to teach them how to do a bar muscle up it's, you know, what is your hang from the bar look like? What is your grip look like? You know, let let's perfect those pieces before you can effectively understand how to do those high-level movements correctly and efficiently. So really the things that I enjoy talking about are if I'm teaching a class that I really emphasize is what do your basics look like?


And there's, there's really a never a moment in a gymnast career, but I can say this for like, I'm pretty sure that no matter what athlete you ask at any level, they will all say that there is never a moment in their careers when they stop working on basics. There is never a moment where, you know, a gymnast will stop working on strict dips because they have a perfect strip, strict dip. You know, it's just become another part that gets incorporated into your training. The same will go with football players and we'll go with a baseball player. Those fundamentals will become the, the basis of everything that you do from a movement perspective, not the end result. And that's the part that I really want people to understand. It's awesome.


What is something actionable that you would recommend for listeners?


Yeah, so it comes back. I mentioned it a little bit earlier, but I think those three pieces every single day, I think if, if gymnastics or just better movement in general, something that you want to strive towards you should be doing 15 minutes of core. That is all-encompassing core work. That's hip flexors abs hopefully expose your chain 15 minutes of core work, handstands and flexibility every single day. And then you can expand on that. But I say a minimum of that, that would be the best 15 minutes that you're going to spend on a daily basis in terms of getting your body more capable, to be able to do anything you're going to require of it. Now, the one thing I'll mention in terms of the handstand side is that doing the handstand work doesn't necessarily mean that you have to get inverted, right?


And I think that's kind of a misconception for a lot of people. There are tons of handstand exercises that you can be doing that are either upright, that are laying flat down on the ground that are just working on getting your elbows repaired again, your wrist repairing and getting your shoulders prepared. Those are all handstand exercises without actually getting inverted. So I will say that that's a slight caveat saying doing handstands every day, because that can get a little bit strenuous for a lot of people right off the bat. So understand that working on handstands does not mean that you have to get upside down.


Awesome. We definitely are going to link up you know, these resources and videos that you were talking about so that people can get a better understanding of kind of what we're saying and hopefully give it a shot. Yeah, that'd be great. That'd be great. So where can we point people to, how can we support you in your journey? How can we learn more about you?


Cool. So our main website is just power monkey, fitness.com. That'll be kind of all-encompassing where we have the majority of information, whether that be our equipment and our ring thing, and some other equipments that we sell clinics are all on that page. We'll be able to see kind of the rundown at the top of that page clinics upcoming. If you want to request a clinic at your gym, you can do it straight through that page. Monkey method is also in the top right-hand corner of that page, and you can kind of pull-down menu to see the options and the, and the pay structure and all that stuff, right on the monkey method page. Along with that, you can check out power monkey, camp.com and that's cam specific to, to give you all the details about our camp when the next one is how much it costs who's coming with the clinicians look like all that stuff has a ton of images, videos, information as to what the entire week entails. It really is an all-encompassing week. I'd prefer you to check out the site and if you have more information, just email me at date. We've got power monkey, fitness.com, and I'm happy. Is there any more questions?


Awesome, man. Anything else you'd like to leave listeners with?


Not really. Just, I appreciate your kind of listening to what a gymnast has to say. For us being able to bring this information to more people is an honor. It's a pleasure and keeps moving, keep moving well. And contact me. I want to be able to be here as a voice for you guys to help with your gymnastics and movement journeys. For me, this is something I care deeply about. And like I said, you know, it's something that we've been striving to do in the gymnastics community for our entire lives, figure out how to get more people, to be interested in what we do, and we're finally being able to do it. So I want to be able to help out as much as many people as I possibly can. So I'm here, I'm here as a resource power monkeys here as a resource contact me. I'm happy to kind of help.


Out as much as I can. Awesome, man. Yeah. I mean, you know, for me, at least like when I look at a CrossFit or, you know, you could look at it you could look at MMA as an example too, but it's made up of so many different types of disciplines. And I feel like it's almost like your duty to kind of seek out the people of those individual disciplines and kind of learn from them and see what they have to say if you truly want to kind of hone that craft. And so we see that a lot with Olympic weightlifting and I think it's awesome. And so it was an honor to have you here and pick your brain a little bit more about the gymnastics side of things. Thank you. I appreciate it very much. Thanks for having me on. Yeah, thanks again, man.


Talk soon. Take care. Thank you so much for listening guys. If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to iTunes and leave a five-star review and or share it with a friend shirt somewhere on the web where people can enjoy it. Be sure to head over to airborne mind.com and sign up for the newsletter. You'll get my weekly athlete digest along with a few free gifts. If you have questions that you would like to see answered on future podcasts, please don't hesitate to reach out. You can send an email to info@airborneminded.com and in the subject line, please put Q and I'm looking forward to hearing from you guys. Thanks again for listening until next time.

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