The Strength Camp Day III - Written by Ashley Maree Collis
If you have been reading along with our recap of The Strength Camp II you have probably picked up on a few things.
Everyone was having a great time
We were doing a lot of lifting and learning
Everyone, from attendees to coaches, was really looking forward to Day 3
Day 3 looked a little different to the preceding days. On this day, a gloriously sunny and warm Sunday, we would not be rotating in our groups to different stations. No…today we would soaking up as much knowledge and wisdom from one source throughout the entire day.
Strongfit has been developed by leader Julien Pineau to improve coaching and movement standards across the fitness industry around the world. Athletes and coaches alike look to Strongfit to be better, move better and understand better. It is also very important to note that a huge amount of Strongfit’s focus is on women and the different ways our bodies work, especially when under considerable weight and loads.
Any woman who believes in herself and in other women will be very quick to tell you that we as a species can keep up with the boys. We can even leave them in our dust. But just because we can be as strong, if not stronger, than men that doesn’t mean we might need different programming. Different doesn’t mean ‘less than’. Different doesn’t mean ‘weaker’.
I don’t have the upper body strength that some men do. So it would be extremely remiss of my coach to write the same program for me as he does his male strength athletes. Good coaches understand the differences in biology, physiology and, sometimes mentality, and use that knowledge to program effectively on an individual basis. Unfortunately, not all coaches are good coaches.
I have no doubt we’ve all been in a situation, be it in a Crossfit or weightlifting class, and looked at the programming and thought ‘what the fudge?’. Sure there are often “women’s weights” jotted down, but that isn’t where the differences start and end. I can often do the ‘male weights’ in a class. But I can’t always do the movements that utilise a strong, broad chest or shoulders. And requesting assistance might not always lead to the desired result because an overwhelming number of coaches are men and through no fault of their own they don’t always understand the minute differences between the ways our bodies work. We can be left assuming that it’s not the programming or the coaching or the weight…it’s our fault that we can’t do these things. We are not good enough. We are not strong enough.
That’s not true in the slightest.
This was one of the main reasons I was so excited for Julien’s seminar. I really like the time and effort put into making strength training more enjoyable, approachable and efficient for everyone, especially women.
It didn’t take long for Julien to win everyone over. The man knows how to speak to an audience and is ridiculously charming. He had an incredibly attentive audience from the get-go and we all listened intently to everything Julien and his assistant Richard said and explained. What I noticed immediately was that I didn’t feel like I was being spoken ‘at’. Julien and Richard made eye contact with everyone and made sure questions were answered. This was a discussion, not a lecture. This is just one of the many reasons Strongfit seminars are so sought-after and successful.
It’s hard to summarise every single thing we covered. Over the course of the day we learnt how different breathing techniques will affect our movements and recovery. We learnt the importance of building a solid pelvic floor and how to do so. We discussed the most beneficial and rewarding way to teach and to learn. We spoke about mindset and recovery. It felt like we discussed so much and yet we still had so much to learn.
Even the most extensive notes would leave something out. As I jotted points down I realised that I was writing in a way which would denote the proverbial pin dropping. My notes looked like an excited child’s reminder list:
“remember the lesson, not the experience” of course! Write about this!!
You’re allowed to enjoy training!!
Breathing is important!!
It is all an arch!
Deal with value (!!) not reward
So. Many. Exclamation points.
We all knew we could be in for some intense physical moments throughout the day, and although we didn’t have to hurl sandbags, the exercises we did run through with Julien and Richard definitely left me twitching. Air squats are all fun and good until you have to do more than 20 of them.
By the time I had to leave to drive back home, camp had officially come to an end and yet Julien was happy to stay and keep talking with anyone who was willing to listen. By the time I stopped halfway home I saw photos of the group who had stayed well beyond the AIS closing time and sat around Julien outside, like an incredibly well-behaved group of the most attentive students you have ever seen.
This image really struck a chord in me. Here were women with busy lives who had just completed three full days of learning and moving and they were still committed to learning and asking more questions. And here was Julien Pineau, undeniably a world-renowned teacher/coach/guru who was so incredibly generous with his time and knowledge. No question was too big or small. No question was silly. Every question was deserving of an answer and every person listening was deserving of his time. Right there on that concrete slab in the leafy surrounds of Canberra was the epitome of what the Strength Camp is about and what, I believe, groups such as The Barbelle Club are trying to do. Women from all reaches coming together to learn from one another and to learn from skilled coaches who not only know what they are talking about but want to give their knowledge to the people who will take it in their hands, mould it into something of their own, and use it as a tool to pave the way for women in strength.
All of you who attended the Strength Camp II are building something right now. Whatever you took away from this weekend will mean something, whether you see it now or six months down the track. It might create the foundation of your road into a strength sport or simply be another step in your journey to a better, healthier you.
We’re all right here on this path with you and we can’t wait to see what you do.
Ashley Maree Collis is a writer and lifter of all of the things. You can read more of her brilliant work on her blog Meet Me at the Barbelle The Barbelle Club were incredibly lucky to have her attend The Strength Camp and share her thoughts with us. Thank you Ashley xx Photographs by Barbell Media
*Meet Me At The Barbell would like to sincerely thank The Barbelle Club for allowing us to experience the Strength Camp II. This was an overwhelmingly wonderful weekend and we will take so much away from these three days. The lessons learnt, the friends made and the movements mastered. More than anything though we are walking away with pure pride and sheer joy in being allowed to witness so many wonderful women catch a glimpse of what they are capable of and feel the contagious energy of self-belief spread through the camp.*