Friday, February 15, 2013

Dethrone Base Camp workout. The missing link in your training?

Maybe the next evolution in your workout?


Jesse, a friend of mine, recently approached me with an idea on how to build up the new gym he's been hired to manage. He wants to offer group runs on the weekend to attract the runners of the bay area because he is convinced his workout will take any runner, no matter where they rank in terms of ability, to the proverbial "next level".
Jesse is a personal trainer who use to fight MMA and has taught boxing and kick boxing classes for years. He is a very capable athlete and for him to endorse a workout carries a lot of weight with me. He described the workout as "unique in its approach" and "as difficult as you want it to be, like a spin class".  I was intrigued so I agreed to stop into the Dethrone Base Camp and let him put me through the workout.
A view from the upstairs workout area at Burlingames Dethrone Base Camp
My first impression of the facility is that it is not a Mega Globo-Gym (24hr fitness) nor is it a crossfit "box". It is very nice obviously because it was just built and all of the equipment looks new and up to date but it is not rows and rows of cardio machines and weight machines like a big commercial gym. It is also not a crossfit "box" which is usually a hardcore garage workout space with just the basics for workout equipment like a chin up bar, sledge hammers and tires and of course a few Olympic bars for lifting. The Base Camp is a mix of the best of these two worlds. It has a lobby with workout food & beverages for pre & post fuel. They also carry the Inov8 line of shoes which any trail runner can appreciate and as expected the Dethrone line of clothing is for sale as well. The gym has a row of Schwinn Airdyne bikes, various free weights, boxes for jumping, battle ropes and all that you would need for a really good workout. Like I said, the best of both worlds. One other thing that separates this gym from most others is that they offer drop in pricing. You don't have to sign your life away agreeing to pay big bucks forever. You can simply purchase a ten pack of workouts and come as often as you want. Obviously the fewer workouts you purchase the higher the price per workout you pay and as always the cheapest route is to pay for a full blown membership and come everyday. The no contract membership would make the price per workout around 2 or 3 dollars each. That's a bargain you cant get anywhere.
 The workout started with about 8 people on the Airdyne bikes and 6 more people on the giant mat in front of us. For those who aren't familiar the Airdyne bikes are alot like a spin bike in their operation but with arm movement like an elliptical machine. We were encouraged to warm up by pedaling the bikes up to about 150 watts and hold it there while Jesse demonstrated the various moves we would be performing such as jump squats, burpees, walking push ups, various Olympic lifts etc. Once the explanation was done we were assigned a number that corresponded to the flat screen TV on the wall. Jesse explained simply and quickly to "Watch that TV on the wall. Whatever exercise is listed by your number, that is the exercise you will do. In between doing these exercises for 1 minute you will spend 1 minute on the bike. Its very simple. 1 minute bike followed by 1 minute of exercise and repeat. Bike, exercise, bike, exercise. No rest in between. Any questions?" That was fairly straight forward so nobody had any questions and then he made it even easier. "Those of you who are starting on the mat will do the exercise that corresponds with your number. Those who are on the bike for the first minute will look to those on the mat for an example of what you will do next. Is everybody ready?" he asked. Before we had a chance to respond he was already counting down "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO!!!!"
 The music kicked in and the sound of several Airdyne bikes began to hum all at once. I pedaled my bike to up to 150 watts as the beginners were instructed to do and the people on the mats began doing their various exercises. I looked to the big screen and saw that I was starting out with a free weight move called "Around the World". I looked to those on the floor and saw a guy doing it and remembered Jesse's demonstration of it moments earlier. "30 seconds" Jesse cheered over his headset microphone. "Good form on those push ups, 10 more seconds till we switch." he warned. The buzzer went off and everybody shot off the bikes and headed to a spot on the mat where they could perform the exercise that corresponded with the number they were given. "Hustle, hustle, hustle, No rest in between!" Jesse exclaimed and with that the 10 second buzzer went off and the sound of the Airdyne bikes mixed with the music pumping through the speakers. The other guys were now on the bikes and we were on the mat. We kept this up for the next 35 to 40 minutes alternating between the bike and the exercise listed on the TV. The other excercises we did were burpees, ball squats, pump jacks, walking push ups, sit ups, battle ropes, box jumps, squat lunges, clean & press, curl and a few others I'm probably forgetting.
 The time flew by incredibly fast and I think I know why. When you're on the mat doing an exercise it takes every ounce of muscle you have to keep it going for one solid minute. It may not sound like alot but trust me, it is. Then you hustle over to the bike and push it up to speed followed by a glance at the TV to find out whats in store next and then your looking around the mat for an example of what that exercise is. Once you have it all dialed in Jesse is already counting down for you to switch. There is never a dull moment. Every once in a while Jesse will call out various things like "250 for 5!" which I think means push the bike up to 250 watts for the last 5 seconds. I don't know for sure if that's what he meant and during the workout I did not care. I did not want to push the bike on my first time doing this because I was scared I would crash & burn before the workout was done. Jesse would also cheer people on and help people with proper form or suggest lighter weights for people who looked to be struggling. It was a really easy workout to get the hang of but it took every ounce of my ability to hang on till the end.
 When we got to the end we did a group stretch for a few minutes and then Jesse launched into a few minutes of abs to finish us off. I was so burnt out that I couldnt really do what he was asking me to do and I think that might have been his point. He added this last little bit to make sure everyone walked away thouroughly fried! One guy got up to yak just prior to the ab workout begining so he was lucky and got to skip it. 45 minutes in total was what my watch told me. I averaged 165 bpm heart rate and peaked at 189 bpm. I burnt 615 calories in total. Thats nearly 14 calories per minute!
 This is an incredibly effective weight loss type of workout. I think it will certainly be of great benefit to my trail running and this new routine will provide the muscle confusion that produces the "next level" of progress in my athletic abilities. Specific excercises like the various squats, lunges and jumps are incredible for explosive power. They help in hill climbing, speed work and all around leg strength. The high intensity of the cardio will be a big benefit to my stamina and my VO2 max. The excercises that are done change from workout to workout so you will never get the same workout twice. You will never get bored and your weight loss will never plataeu. This is a fantastic new addition to my training and I highly recommend you try it.
 In the future I plan to organize some group runs at the Base Camp and help people further their workout goals. My aim is to teach people some techniques on how to run farther, faster and with less effort and fewer aches and pains. This will help a person survive the Base Camp workouts just a little bit better. Stay tuned for more info on that.

See you in the woods,
Jonathan Fales