March
14
2016

Episode 21: Tech, Part I

By Chris 0

Ray Gowlett is a professional MMA fighter, motocross racer and research skeptic.

His lab contains almost 600 subjects (it’s a high school) and Ray is constantly seeking new ways to teach and coach. Many of these kids are high-level athletes; just as many don’t want to be in the class at all. He’s always trying new things, but this cross-pollination of students means every innovation has to satisfy two standards:
1. It has to make people fitter;

2. It has to make people happier.

Sound familiar?

Ray coined the phrase we repeat at Catalyst often: “Exercise until you’re happy.” It’s the base of the hierarchy he teaches students. He also teaches research skepticism: how to read and rank the value of “research.” Imagine a generation of people who believe what they read on Facebook: that’s what’s coming, except for the students in Ray’s classes.

I introduce this episode with the question, “Are we measuring 2016 results with 2001 technology?” CrossFit coaches are the champions of objectively-measurable fitness, and exercisers become addicted to having a “score.” But other gym chains, like Orange Theory,  are beginning to nibble at our lunch: giant scoreboards focusing on one correlate of fitness draw huge crowds. We can be defensive, or we can do better.

This episode is the beginning of that conversation: how do we leverage tech to enhance fitness? Will measurement and feedback help us reach higher levels…or is it only useful to get clients in the gym more often?

In “Coach’s Confessional,” I talk about the one of the (very few) mistakes I HAVEN’T made myself, but see all too often in struggling gyms: the “lifetime membership.” It’s a monkey’s paw, and I’ll explain why.

My next seminar is April 16 in Charlotte, NC. Get signed up!

Listen to Stitcher

The Polar H7 heart rate monitor.

The Beast Sensor (accelerometer)

The Form collar is still in the Kickstarter stages, but looks promising.

TrainingPeaks.com – Joe Friel and Chris Carmichael (Lance Armstrong’s former coach)

Two-Brain Business 2.0, in which I write about Good Debt vs. Bad Debt.

Is 1RM a good surrogate measure of Rate of Force Development (RFD?)

For decades, we’ve known that speed is the primary currency of sport. Sometimes that speed is combined with power or agility. But our training plans focus on dependencies of speed (like one-rep max) in our attempt to improve RFD. It’s backward, but it’s all most of us have. I’m certainly guilty. We use heavy lifts to improve speed…but we should be using speed to improve speed.

Validation of an Accelerometer for Measuring Sport Performance

The challenge (until now) has been the cost to acquire specialty equipment that can be used only on one athlete at a time. A $2000 accelerometer is on the “lottery list” of many coaches, but now the technology is available in smaller portable forms. At $300, accelerometers are going to become more prevalent. And if CrossFit gyms decide they’re useful, the price will drop dramatically.

ARE they useful? That’s what I talk about with Ray. Potential is not promise; sexy toys aren’t always best for your practice (exhibit A: jerk blocks.)

In a future episode, we’ll talk with gym owners using heart rate technology in their classes (business AND training implications.)

Recorded on March 4, 2016.

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