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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

GS Practice with Oboe

It's getting to be time, yep, time to go compete again. I know this because it's Stage 4, the only part of my training where I show up at the gym on Sunday. I happens once in an entire training cycle, and last Sunday was that day.

Perhaps because I was there earlier than usual, because I have sworn off "Saturday Night" until after the meet, I was the only person in the gym. As is my habit, after joint mobility and basic core warm-up I take my kettlebell and the entire chalk bin outside to prepare the handle and lo, an oboe player in a nearby apartment is doing the musician's parallel of my warm-up routine, scales. Somehow there was a feeling of shared artistry in this moment.

Those who appreciate the benefits of chalk sympathize with the following sequence:

I put a base layer on the "Work Set" bell, then go inside to begin the progressive warm-up with weights. Starting with a drop weight, basic movements in sets of 5 each side.
Put down, shoulder mobility, pick up and complete 5 reps each side with focus on recent technique corrections.
Next weight, 2kg up. This time including basic movements with the full lift, 5 rep sets on each side, special attention to the most recent corrections. Put down.

Go look at the "Work Set" bell. It's still there with a base coat of chalk. As I apply myself to covering the holes in this first coat, I notice Oboe Player has gotten into a different set of scales. Some of it has a resemblance to familiar classical music, but just as I start to pick out the tune the scale resumes.

With the second layer of chalk secured, I go back in to continue my weighted warm-up.
More shoulder mobility before hefting the next weight up. This time straight to the lift, suddenly aware that this kettlebell is not chalked. I space out one rep thinking about potential hand damage, so add one to be certain I'm still able to incorporate that new material. Second side, put down.
Then it gets serious. I happen to have doubles of each weight, so am now onto warming-up with the Work Set weight, the one that is not under a protective coat of magnesium.

My general rule: chalk the bell if doing more than 5 reps each side, chalk the hands if less.

So off to the chalk bin.

Outside, Oboe Player has gotten the reed warm and is doing an improvisational set of scales which allows for pitch errors. When a note is played off, the scale shifts to that different key for a few notes, then returns to the original scale. I've never heard a musician do this before, but haven't spent any time in a symphony. It's an incredible feat of training and intuition happening in my ears, my "practice partner" is doing exactly what I'm doing, using the warm-up as a practice. Just to hear the next measure I finish chalking my handle, thus re-coating my hands for the final warm-up set.

Me, the bell, the chalk bin, my sand paper and shop towel all come in this time.
A short set of arm circles, then grab the extra bell. After rep 3 I feel the new technique feature doing it's work: the drop down results in a straight line from the top of my shoulder through the center of the kettlebell. The last two reps confirm that I have enough energy to complete the set given with this weight. Switch hands and repeat.

At this point I might do something like take a picture of the chalked kettlebell with my phone to procrastinate. But today I am the only person in the gym, have the best spot in the house, no music blaring at me and an oboe accompaniment. The GymBoss starts and paces me for the Work Set. I can maintain the minimum rep per minute count on side 1, no flesh tear, change hands. It works just as well on side 2, new technique keeps me in the set, finally GymBoss tells me "Put Down!" and I'm sweating like I just finished a Bikram Yoga class.

There is a short rest between this and the assist set for the training session, so I take my kettlebell outside to remove the chalk and perhaps hear the piece my practice partner is working on. But alas, apparently the piece was the same length as my set, there is no more music outside! Well, no excuse to extend the rest segment, either. Like a Tibetan sand painting, it takes 5 seconds to undo what took 25 minutes to accomplish on the handle of my working weight. Back to work, the 10-minute glove set.

A different day -  the chalk that remained just had to be documented!
Okay, it's not such a glamorous sport. We spend more time preparing for the Big Event than actually competing. But just as my musician partner demonstrated, it's the time given to refining the art that makes a performance so amazing.

Now that I know the weight I plan to compete with will not take all the flesh off my palm in the first three minutes (God willing!), the last training sessions of this cycle don't feel so ominous. I'm looking forward to the Second Annual Bay Area Kettlebell Competition!

Hope to see you there!

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