Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday 11/13 - Day 1 in Copenhagen, Paidaia Gym

I arrived in Copenhagen around 12:00 today. Sarah met me at a metro stop near the city center, from which we proceeded on 3 km walking tour through some of the city. She took me past some beautiful architecture, including the National Ballet Theater, the Round Tower (an enormous tower that has no stairs, just circular, sloping inclines), the Copenhagen Law School, numerous 18th and 19th century churches, and the national soccer stadium. All of this was on the way to her flat in Copenhagen’s East Borough. You can really feel the age in this city. I’m not sure exactly why, but it just feels older than some other places I have been.

After lunch, we headed over to Paidaia Gym for a strength workout. Erik and Fred, two of the owners, were there to greet us. They, along with one other, broke away from another affiliate to open this place. The space is big and unique, consisting of two large rooms, one designed specifically for crossfit classes and the other for open gym and MMA. The gym is littered with cool toys, including club bells, sandbags, maces, kegs, chains, and parallettes. It was apparent right away that this was an intelligent gym, both in its design and its personnel.

For our workout, Sarah and I were joined by her friend Anders. He has a strong background in Olympic weightlifting and boasts a 95 kg power snatch! This blew my mind, since he probably only weighs 150 lbs. Picking his brain was pretty fun. For out workout we did the following…

Back Squat 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Followed by 1 super squat (set of 20) at a 1 breath tempo (stand and take one breath between each repetition).

4 x 1 minute rounds of elevated handstand pushups, with 2 minutes rest between

This was a strength emphasis day, obviously, and it was really beneficial. I deliberately did full Olympic squats for all of my sets (ass to the ground) in an effort to build better strength through the range of motion and improve my drive out of the hole. My weights were 100 kg, 110 kg, 120 kg, 130 kg, 130 kg. I repeated the final set at 130 kg because I knew I would not be able to bump the weight and still get 4 reps going that low. The last rep on the 4th set had been a fight. With the exception of my right knee leaning in a bit on some of the movements, my technique looked very good, and was dissected for constructive criticism by a few of the guys present.

For the super squat set (set of 20), I dropped the weight to 90 kg and made it through without much trouble. In retrospect, I should have kept it at 100 kg as I had originally intended. Chalk one in the puss column.

The handstand pushup sets were tough. I set up the parallettes at about 30 inches width and stacked a couple plates underneath, leaving approximately an 8 inch deficit (only about 4 at the games) to overcome. I’ve been gradually working the depth lower and lower in an effort to build strength in both my press and in the HSPU movement, specifically. The first minute I did 5 repetitions. The second I did 4. The third I did 6. And the fourth I did 4. With Sarah’s help (she’s an ex-gymnast) I concentrated more on contracting my pelvis and locking my hips, and on pushing my head through my hands to lock the scapula. These tips helped for sure. 19 repetitions over 4 sets is nothing to write home about, but the deficit was significant and I felt I had improved. Afterwards I did one max set of handstand presses from the floor- man did it feel like I was barely moving my body at all! I did 15 in a row after doing all the previous work and still felt good.

After wrapping things up with Eric and the other owners, we headed back to Sarah’s house where she and her husband gave a great dinner party for some of their friends. A great group of people, great food, and wonderful hosts made this a really fun night. Looking forward to what comes next.

Copenhagen Day 1, Paidaia Gym

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