Monthly Archives: August 2012

Call Me ‘Gladiator’

Editor’s Note: David Adams, a University of Tampa student and U.S. Army veteran, is comparing obstacle race preparation and other endurance regimens to the training he underwent in the military. In a series of stories for this summer, he’ll write about his progress.

By David Adams

Grinding it out at Camp Gladiator

James Bellamy is a familiar face in the world of Tampa Bay fitness and endurance sports. Over the last two years, he’s served as an ambassador for the Mix1 protein shake and, more recently, he’s led training sessions at TNL Tampa, a CrossFit gym near Westchase.

Bellamy’s latest endeavor is Camp Gladiator, a national bootcamp program that recently came to Central Florida. I recently attended one of Bellamy’s sessions at Spa Beach in St. Petersburg, not knowing quite what to expect.

We began with a 400-meter run to warm up our legs, and then did 10 Burpees, air squats, pushups, and a few other moves. After the warm-up, we dove head first into training. Bellamy introduced to me to techniques that will produce results when added to any routine.

First we performed several partner-assisted leg drills using resistance. One person would push or pull against the leg as a partner tried to raise, extend, or contract the leg. The goal of the trainee providing resistance was to apply enough force to make the partner performing the exercise labor to complete a repetition.

The most innovative partner exercise was a bent leg push/pull drill. The partner performing the set lied down, crossing a leg over the opposite knee.  Once in place, the resistor tested the flexibility of the knee by extending the bent leg as far as it would comfortably reach without causing pain.

Once the tolerance was assessed, the person performing the exercise would push their leg out as far as they could, and then retract the leg back into their body. While doing this, their partner would apply resistance by pushing on the leg during extension, and then pulling on it during contraction. This exercise really worked my hip flexors, and by the time I was done with my sets my legs were feeling the burn.

After partner-assisted exercises, we transitioned into strength training. Sumo deadlifts and high pulls and kettle bell swings were incorporated into abdominal and leg training. All sets were done for time, and the goal was to push as hard as you can to finish the set as quickly as possible.  Bellamy stood by to provide encouragement and advice on proper form.

The CrossFit-style session wrapped up with another 400-meter run, followed up by a set of suicide sprints for time. The training routine was intense, and by the finish I was feeling the burn in my legs, abs, and shoulders. Bellamy had everyone stretch after the workout to aid with recovery.

Camp Gladiator is perfect for anyone looking to improve their current regimen by adding new exercises that will produce results. Camp Gladiator is intense, and in addition to awesome workouts, they also offer some other great things when you sign up.

Camp Gladiator was started by Ally Davidson after she appeared on the show American Gladiator. After winning the competition, she and her husband used the winnings to start Camp Gladiator, which grew into a nationwide fitness business, with camps in seven states.

“The great thing about Camp Gladiator is if you sign up with me at Spa Beach and decide you want to work out in Carrollwood or any other location, you can go there without having to re-sign,” Bellamy said. “If you enlist in our bootcamp, you gain access to every one of them nationwide.”

Camp Gladiator has 11 different locations in the Tampa Bay area, with both morning and evening classes. Spa Beach sessions like the one I attended go from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Bellamy also holds morning sessions from 6 to 7 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Sunken Gardens in St. Pete.



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Caliente Bare Dare 5K to Determine National Championship of Nude Running

National title contenders?

LAND O’LAKES – The Caliente Bare Dare 5K, which has attracted runners from an average of 13 states in each of its first two years, will be the site of the inaugural National Championship of Nude Running on Sunday, September 30.

The race is held just north of Tampa in Land O’Lakes at Caliente Resort, the most upscale clothing-optional resort in North America. The one-loop course takes runners from the Caliente clubhouse through the scenic, well-manicured, 125-acre resort and back. Refreshments and awards are poolside and most runners spend the day at Caliente, which can attract more than 1,000 visitors on sunny weekend afternoons. Entry fee includes access to Caliente for the day.

Caliente, a destination resort in Pasco County with an 40-room hotel and dozens of condos, villas, and single-family homes, is a natural site for the event. The Caliente Bare Dare 5K, which debuted on Oct. 10, 2010 (10/10/10), has attracted an average of 200 runners in each of its first two years, with more than 80 percent running fully nude.

Thirty-eight percent of participants have been female, higher than the 35 percent rate for 5K events overall, and 61 percent have been 45 or younger. Seventy-eight percent of the field comes from beyond Pasco County, including 10 percent from out of state.

In its first two years, the Caliente Bare Dare 5K has attracted runners from Canada and 17 states beyond Florida (Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas). This year’s registrants also include athletes from Arizona, Iowa, and New Jersey.

Caliente Resort, just north of Tampa

Also attracting top runners and triathletes from Florida, the USA Track & Field-certified Caliente Bare Dare 5K features a competitive field that has produced course-record times (16:51 male, 20:05 female) comparable to any 5K race. The male and female national champions will receive special awards for their accomplishments. Though running nude is not a requirement for the race, the national champions will be the first nude male and nude female finishers and will receive special awards for their accomplishments.

At a time when race entry fees have escalated rapidly in the endurance sports world, with some events now charging for parking and offering little in terms of free refreshments, the Caliente Bare Dare 5K might be the best value in the industry. The race entry fee also grants runners admission to Caliente for the day, along with post-race refreshments poolside, awards to the top 25 male and top 25 female finishers, and soft, fitted T-shirts uncluttered with sponsor logos on the back. Registration is just $25 through August 24.

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Taking it on the Chin

By Pete Williams

DUNEDIN – One of the many great things about stand-up paddleboarding is that you’re far less likely to get injured falling off a board than a bicycle. After all, water hurts a lot less than asphalt.

Of course, falling off a paddleboard can be very dangerous if you strike any part of your body on the board, especially your head. When you feel yourself going down, it’s important to push the board away from you and land totally in the water.

In my nearly two years of stand-up paddleboarding, I’ve managed to master the Buzz Lightyear “falling with style” technique. But while paddling yesterday at Honeymoon Island, I took it on the chin.

Not sure exactly how it happened. It probably wasn’t the best idea to launch into choppy surf in an area notorious for its rocky bottom that feels like walking on cobblestones. Taking a race board, with its lesser stability, also wasn’t one of my better decisions.

Remember: fall away from the board

I didn’t even fall off the board while standing.  When dealing with choppy seas – and we do get them here on the West Coast of Florida – the idea is to walk the board out beyond the break. But since the footing was so rocky, I jumped on in the prone position, with the paddle lying parallel on the board.

As I got to my knees, a wave flipped the board and I caught either the board or the handle of the paddle on the chin. Unlike the standing position, I couldn’t propel away from the board. Still, it didn’t feel that bad and I jumped back on only to see blood dripping onto the board.

I paddled back quickly to shore – thinking of how I participated in the “Shark Bite Challenge” SUP race in calmer waters near the same spot in April – grabbed an ice pack from the cooler, along with a towel, and walked to the lifeguard stand. They cleaned the cut and estimated I’d need three stitches.

Actually, five. The folks at the walk-in clinic asked if I’d had a tetanus shot recently and I proudly announced that I had, having gotten one two months ago after scraping myself up at an obstacle adventure race.

Not the greatest war story, to be sure. But another reminder that while stand-up paddleboarding can be a safe sport, it’s also one that requires proper safety precautions, including a personal flotation device in the event such a fall renders you unconscious.

As well as learning to fall gracefully.


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LA Fitness Lacks Balls

By Pete Williams

Not quite Globo Gym

About five years ago LA Fitness moved into the Tampa Bay area, opening a gym three miles south of the Lifestyle Family Fitness I’ve frequented since 2004.

It was tempting to move to the glitzier facility, but like an Average Joe’s loyalist, I remained at LFF. But when LA Fitness bought the Florida-based Lifestyle last month and offered LFF members free access to LA, it was hard to resist.

I held out until late yesterday afternoon. Presenting my new LA Fitness card at the front desk, I felt like a traitor, expecting White Goodman to welcome me. I scanned the gym’s massive layout, row upon row of cardio equipment and weights, the four-lane swimming pool, thinking they’ve got to be here somewhere.

I made two laps around the building before finding a familiar face, an LFF trainer who now works with clients at both locations.

“Where are the balls?” I asked.

He shook his head knowingly, pointing to a couple of sad, undersized, under-inflated physioballs. “They have nothing for functional training,” he said.

Technically, that wasn’t true. In addition to the physioballs, there was a BOSU ball, a couple of foam rollers, and one measly medicine ball in an off-to-the-side area that included a large gym mat and a couple of desks.

No rack of medicine balls and physioballs. No stack of BOSUs or bin of foam rolls. No TRX devices or resistance tubing.

There’s something to be said for old-school, throwback gyms. But this is 2012. Even the biggest Arnold disciples and figure model types will concede that today’s fitness industry is about functional movement, creating a lean physique that’s long and lean, flexible and strong, fast and agile, and sexy as hell.

LA Fitness, rapidly becoming the nation’s largest fitness chain, apparently didn’t get the memo.

I felt like I had traveled back to 2002. Back then, I was starting to write a book with Mark Verstegen, a pioneer in core training, who since the early 1990s had been showing elite athletes how to become stronger and more functional by focusing on all the tiny core stabilizer muscles around the hips, shoulders, and midsection. Instead of popular bodybuilding routines, he trained his athletes in the movements of everyday life and sport. The results were impressive, with Mark’s athletes dominating sports across the board.

As we wrote the book that would become the groundbreaking Core Performance and inspire four other books (with a sixth in the works), we included routines with physioballs, medicine balls, stretch ropes, and foam rollers. As much as I liked the program, and began using it myself, I wondered if the book would be embraced since gyms didn’t typically have any of that equipment.

At one point in the fall of 2002, I went to Ballys, Golds, Lifestyle, and other gyms in the Tampa Bay area. Sure enough, I couldn’t find much more than the occasional under-inflated physioball gathering dust in the corner.

“Trust me,” Mark said. “Within a few years, all of this will be standard equipment.”

He was right. These days, even small hotel gyms usually have a physioball and a couple of “med” balls. CrossFit gyms, which market their old-school training techniques and focus a little too much on Olympic lifting for my taste, use medicine balls and physioballs as part of their core exercises, pun intended.

Here I was thinking I’d get a taste of LA Fitness’ modern facilities and never walk into Lifestyle again. Instead, it was nice to get back to LFF this morning and see its racks of balls in every size and color.

LA Fitness probably will close the Lifestyle locations it purchased, consolidating everything into its bigger, newer facilities.

I’m okay with that, so long as LA gets some balls.

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