Monday, February 27, 2012

Simple Effective Affordable Tactical Training from Crosscore

All of us rely on folks like firefighters, police, ambulance workers, military support - to be there for us - from getting a cat out of a tree to shoveling out a snowed in city to saving lives in dangerous situations. Most of us may not be aware of how little support these folks get to stay strong, fit and healthy (we won't even talk about recovery/sleep).

 So for folks who are often working overtime shifts with little gear to workout, what do you get the first responder who has nothing -  no gym, little gear, little space, no regular training time and no coaches - but who needs to be fit for the gruelling physical and cognitively demanding regminen that is their job?

Brendan Cosso and JP Brice of CrossCore along with Sr. RKC Mark Toomey and SWAT team leader Joey Williams, folks i'm pleased to say i've had the pleasure to work with,  asked themselves this question and came up with Crosscore Tactical Action DVD.

The DVD provides two core components: an instructional overview of a set of movements that will support tactical performance; a simple and effective program putting these skills together. This basic training program is pretty much bullet proof: it will help first responders get fit, stay fit and, most importantly, move better under the duress of this intense and unpredictable lifestyle.

By basic training, i mean fundamental strength movements that support the bending, twisting, climbing, crawling and waiting while tensed on alert that is both the stock and trade, as well as the stress inducer/fatiguer of first responders everywhere.

One of the main values of the program is that it is designed to suit the reality of first responders' lives and often limited training conditions. People demonstrating movements are real first responders: this is what THEY DO for training. They're in their shorts or their work fatigues. Instructor Mark Toomey is likewise dressed for work, not hang time at the gym. The movements are thus designed to be deployed in real scenarios, when perhaps all a person can catch is time to alternate some kettlebell swing work with some turkish get ups - both moves well instructed in the vid.

Difference in Crosscore Tactical Action
Approach to First Responders
THere are some great follow-along videos geared at say firefighters for building up all sorts of endurance capacity, mainly by using the space efficient and dynamic properties of kettlebells. Often these DVDs are follow along for a 40-45min fry your ass endurance strength workout. By contrast, this video is more about movements, and principles for those movements, to practice each with control for maximal effect in minimal time and space.

Each movement is demonstrated by ex-marine and Sr. RKC Mark Toomey along with SWAT team members under Joey Williams' direction. These are both gentlemen who know intimately the working end the first responder space, so two benefits:
1) one can trust these guys to deliver the right stuff
2) one can trust these guys to deliver the right stuff well.

The moves covered in the video include:
Mark and Joey in the You go; I go workout
Loading the Hips for drive:
+ the Plank and variations (with and without kettlebells)
+ kettlebell swing - including progressions towards the swing
+ kettlebell snatch; moving load to the shoulders
Turkisth Get Up (TGU)
+ related support stretches.
+ TGU progressions in three statges with techniques at each one
Tactical Pull Up - hitting the bar with the chest
+ TPU progressions
Push Up
+ Technique progressions for strength rather than fatigue.
Work out programs for home, garrison, gym.
+ putting it together - 3 workouts
+ these moves applied to other athletic movements
+ carry overs to tactical applications
And that's it.

None of these is a trick move - a pull up is basic (getting to the chest is the challenge); a kb swing is, while involving coordinated movement, highly learnable and practicable anytime anywhere (if you have room to swing a cat, you have room to swing a bell).

The thing about the delivery of these moves, however, is that by getting the technique dialed in, the benefits they provide is simply amplified. Toomey delivers the technique to open up the possibilities for getting the best out of a TGU, Swing, pull up, push up - whether one has a nice clean bar to execute the move or just the edge of a wall.
Applying the basic hip movement practice to multiple contexts
The workouts demonstrated at the end of the vid by both Williams and Toomey show how these building blocks can be put together. The approach in the vid assumes that a person has the self-direction and tenacity to do the work, as and when they can, without the luxury of following a vid from start to finish. The video is there to present progressions, to focus on form, progress skills, and to be reminded of some effective combinations whether at work, home or at a gym.

Just the Facts

Talking with both Mark and Brendan about the making of the video, what's surprising to hear is that this was pretty much a step up to the workout space, turn the camera on and just deliver each progression and workout.

Viewers can tell immediately that Mark is a seasoned instructor, knows how to deliver the material in a clear, articulate way. It's also clear he walks the walk. This approach certainly supports the just the goods flavour of this presentation, which, according to Joey Williams, is just what first responders need, basic tactical fitness education, not gimmicks. Says Joey, also an RKC instructor:

Joey, working the suspended plank
First responders get little to no education on how to keep ourselves in shape; how to build strength to lift things - including ourselves - safely. This DVD offers that little bit of education for the "rescue athlete" that we need to be safe and be fit for the job; to succeed without being an idiot. It's smart.

War Machine Free?
Crosscore produced the video, but something rather apparent from the top of the list of moves, however, is that none of them require the signature piece of equipment made by crosscore - the crosscore 180 rotational trainer (aka war machine). There are several that use the opportunity provided by the crosscore to do some of the technique progressions - but the program doesn't require any of the specific benefits of "pulling the pin." That struck me as a bit of a surprise: what is a company that is making it's business out of rotataional training doing creating a dvd that doesn't insist on using its own gear?

Speaking with CrossCore inventor Brendan Cosso about this seeming contradiction, Brendan was adament that their goal with the project was to produce the right educational tool for the special needs of this group and that community's constraints around gear, space, time and performance. Mark Toomey backed up this sentiment:
Mark demonstrating a hip opening lunge stretch
The guys at CrossCore are good and decent people. They were willing, as was I, to downplay product so that the educational material would take center stage. As the fitness industry becomes more and more crowded with products, educational material becomes more valuable, more relevant and precious, but it has to be presented in such a manner that people aren't being "sold". I may be overly cynical, but I think we, a a fitness industry, have reached a saturation point in the public's eye of hype, distortions and outright lies, all done in an effort to sell another shiny object.
 This DVD is NOT another shiny object. In fact, it's nothing new in terms of content: the moves are well-established tactical winners; it doesn't hide that work needs to be done to get results, but that the emphasis in the work is on good form, good technique, and progressive loading on that foundation.

 Asking Brendan if they plan more of these kinds of products that just focus on the right move for the job, yes. In fact there is a proposed set of projects rehab - these will be using the crosscore 180, but again, as a supplement.
 Non First Responders: Great Swing and TGU video; great Complexes
 If you are NOT a first responder this is an excellent and affordable way to learn progressions for a kettlebell swing and a turkish get up.

 Some folks have a hard time believing that just two movements can be a complete workout but those two movements alone work everything, dynamically. The complex that Toomey presents the incorporates more bodyweight/kb movements dials things up a notch.

 A potent attribute of the product is that it really does provide good fundamental support for these core movements that, if treated with respect in terms of practice, will deliver better performance from wherever a person comes in.

 Bottom line Recommendation
At 29.95, for anyone looking to investigate kettlebells as a fitness tool, the CrossCore Tactical Action DVD is an affordable introduction to kettlebell foundational movements supplemented by bodyweight progressions.

 For first responders, the selections and progressions, put together by experienced coaches and responders is dialed in to support your personal and/or professional practice.

Heck, if you love your local fire house or tactical bunch, why not get this video for them? Bet they'd love you to pieces (a) for thinking of them and (b) giving them a straight ahead dose of training information to give them the edge. Who knows? that may just help save lives - those lives could be of ones we love.


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