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Training :: The Onnit 6 Challenge 2020 :: Week 1

Updated: Feb 29

Over the last couple of years, I have been really into the products produced by Onnit to support human optimization. I think I originally came across the company when I was looking for relaxation and sleep support supplements with 5-HTP, L-Tryptophan, Magnesium, among other things. Their New Mood product seemed to have all the parts so I gave it a shot. Anyway, that got me into their other products, I cycle on and off with Total Human Optimization just to keep all my bases covered, I used the Plant and Whey proteins for training recovery, the Mineral Electrolytes work great while playing basketball or rowing and don't pack so much sugar. AlphaBRAIN can really help to kick the creative process into high gear and also deliver fluent eloquent lectures at school. I guess I am a fan, so much so that nearly all of my workout gear has transitioned to Onnit products (as the old stuff wears out, and I do mean wears out, I am sporting some holey shorts). I usually shop the sales to try not to break the bank and they have a nice rewards program that has netted many of my fun graphic t-shirts and sweatshirts at little or no cost. There is a ton more I could go into (the Onnit-Kyle Kingsberry and Aubry Marcus podcats are weekly staples) but I think of all the things I have gotten from them the most beneficial and transformative have been their Onnit 6 training programs.

I have purchased and completed the Bodyweight, Kettle Bell, and Steel Mace (my favorite) programs over the last year or so and have enjoyed the challenge of each one. They offer a wide range of skill level interfaces and are well produced. Coach John Wolf has a wonderful corny sense of humor that keeps things light during the intensity. There is never a workout that does not leave me feeling it, and a little ego crushed. I now have probably too many very heavy objects in my apartment (dreading moving) some of which are both works of art and next-level training gear. If you are like me and do not love going to gyms with people, then these programs are awesome.



Onnit decided to help people out (and sell some products) by doing an Onnit 6 Challange this winter timed to keep the vigor of new year new you alive. I have been on a break from a lot of heavy workouts for a couple of months, primarily focusing on getting some alignment issues better with Foundation Training and using 2-3X per week RowHouse classes to keep cardio up. When I saw the email for the challenge I thought it sounded like a good time to get back into one of the programs. Of the three that I have done, Body Weight was probably the most challenging and also mobility-focused, so that is what I decided to do for the challenge. I still mostly refuse to engage with social media, but since that is part of this whole thing and I want to be as much of a team player as I can I have even posted a couple of Instagram photos to kick things off.


On to the point, a log of my progress over the course of the Onnit 6 Bodyweight program. I began on Monday, February 10th bright and early at 6am.

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Day 01 :: Monday 02/10/20 :: Prime The Pump 1

The first day of the #onnit6challenge. I was on the fence about participating in this thing, for one I am very uninterested in engaging with social media, and my bandwidth is feeling stretched right now so I was unsure where I will carve and extra hour or so out of my already full days. (it is not so much a problem of the time, but the time with the energy and focus to work hard at this program). Since I have been on a break from intense workouts and I want more motivation to jump out of bed at 6 each morning so last night I decided to sign up and give it my best. I am not sure how much I will be able to participate in the community aspect, but I will try to have fun with it and go outside my comfort zone a little and post some goofy workout pictures.


This commitment will not only continue to build strength, mobility, and resilience in my body but also challenge my mental discipline and keep me on a consistent early schedule to tackle a couple of big projects this month. My goal is to 'pop' out of bed early (at 6) and get on it. Today was a bit of a roll and a stagger so I have a little work to do, but I am feeling the fire.


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Day 02 :: Tuesday 02/11/20 :: Blasted By The Basics 1

The instructors/participants in these videos are amazing. Their ability to keep pace and form with John sets an inspiring example. I am impressed by the grace with which they perform all the rounds of the workouts and keep smiling at all of John Wolf's corny jokes at the same time. Consistency of effort and attention to form are a big focus for me during these workouts and it helps to have such great examples to follow. The pushups during today's workout were a big challenge. I am looking forward to building my upper body strength to support good posture and core stability. I felt my body was much more upright and I could get deeper on the squats than in the past, again I attribute this to the Foundation Training and PT over the last two months. I am looking forward to yoga and recovery tomorrow.


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Day 03 :: Wednesday 02/12/20 :: Yoga 1

Yoga with JJ and Han Solo for an active recovery day three. I found this mentally and physically challenging today, my body is getting back into the higher intensity workouts and is struggling to find balance and smoothness in the flow style yoga. I also have not been practicing my yoga as much recently so the brain-body link is a little rusty. I appreciate this challenge as it brings a slow and steady awareness of my whole body as one flowing system. For me, getting warmed up is usually the hardest part of yoga and most workouts, and I think that JJ does a great job of letting the body ease into the movements and have space to move before really digging into the hard stuff. I feel that my body-mind is building integration of the work the muscles have been doing, opening and aligning all the little parts to keep things moving together. The session does build the heat, and I was dripping and shiny after 15 minutes, thoroughly wrung out after an hour. I am trying to take it slow and remind myself to be mindful of my back, and I can feel that the last two months of Foundation Training have helped build up that awareness. My body feels a little like melting jello now, which I think is a good thing.


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Day 04 :: Thursday 02/13/20 :: Prime The Pump 1 + Rowhouse

Rowhouse at 6 am as a warmup for day four, Prime the Pump. Why? Well, I have an 8X per month subscription of classes at Rowhouse, it is a twice-weekly activity that Lauren and I share to keep us in good cardio fitness, and I enjoy it. So I had to make it stack. I did take things a little easier than normal in the rowing class, making sure my body would have plenty of energy to keep up good form during the workout. Our instructor did throw in a lot of lunches as pushups, just to make things a little more interesting. After completing the Onnit 6 workout my legs are feeling both rubbery and stiff with some light cramping in my calves and quads. Drink my water, keep calm, and carry on. And Hypervolt!


I would also like to say that I strongly agree with John Wolf that the froggy exercises are 'love-hate'. I am never sure I am doing them well since I am here at home without a coach, but I do my best to keep everything tight and aligned with a consistent balance and pace. The position really works my hips, which really need it. My hips are extremely tight and cause a lot of other issues with my back and knees so having the frog open them up is helpful in the long run, but quite uncomfortable at first. They also crush and cramp my toes, which is a funny part of the body to have sore after a workout. I am also developing a nice pair of bruises on the insides of my knees from the pressure against the floor. I know they are good for me, but I do not like doing them very much.


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Day 05 :: Friday 02/14/20 :: Speed Kills 1

I always appreciate the humbling perspective provided by the speed workouts in these programs. These are where the rubber meets the road and all the movement patterns and focus of the other days are put to the test. 20 rounds of Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM) performing three movements (reverse lunges, site throughs, frog press) as quickly as possible while keeping good form and structure. The site throughs and frog press are both done from the frog position and really stress my hips, inner knees, and toes. There isn't much time to think during the 20-30 seconds of recovery breathing during each round, but I did have a nice reflection:


We need tests, trials that stretch us to our limits and ask for just a little more than we think we have, By persevering with great effort we discover that we had more than we thought and learn ways to perform the fundamental tasks of movement and life with greater speed and efficiency. A routine of training and testing not only builds the body but opens new territories of learning and growth in all parts of life. We must remember not to shy away from challenges or we will stagnate and eventually regress. We can't be testing all the time, and this high intensity must be balanced with focused training and recovery. I am looking forward to some smooth yoga tomorrow to loosen everything up for the weekend.


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Day 06 :: Saturday 02/15/20 :: Yoga 1

After completing the main fur workouts for the first week of the program I am feeling a lot of soreness in my calves (and shoulders, and quads, and hips). This is a common experience for me when I escalate my physical training and it is a good inspiration to put in some extra effort on recovery. After a very refreshing Yoga session this morning I did some deep foam rolling on my lower legs and around of light Hypervolt massage. While the first round of JJ Yoga was cumbersome and challenging, mainly because I have been out of practice for a few months, this second round was much smoother. I felt the flow returning and my body was much more stable and receptive to the positions. I am feeling open and supple, ready for the day.

The soreness is abating and I feel ready to head up to Columbia for WBB Alumna Weekend (where I usually get to get on the nice court and put up a bunch of shots). Recover can't all happen on the weekend, so I am making sure to eat well and drink plenty of water each day. I am very blessed to have access to some of the best food on the east coast provided by Evolutionary Organics at the Brooklyn Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. Winter is root vegetable season, and I have all sorts of creative ways to combine them, as noodles, as soup and stew, as mash, as stirfry, you name it I have tried it. I once spent a winter eating only the farm's produce (there is a limit to how many raw radishes you can eat in six months).


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Day 07 :: Sunday 02/16/20 :: Recover + Rowhouse


Today is all about recovery. I did a modified version of the Bodyweight warmup before a Restore Rowhouse class thig, which incorporates a lot of mobility and stretching. My back is a bit cramped from playing a lot of basketball yesterday a the Columbia Women's Basketball Alumnae Day. Doing some more stretching later in the day and will follow up with some foam rolling and Hypervolt of my angry calves. I am feeling well worked after last week, but ready for week 2.


Get On It!