BadAssChickLove – Featuring Jessica Camacho

BadAssChickLove began as a weekly recognition on twitter of the women out there who do some amazing things in the world of functional fitness and nutrition. While it will continue on Twitter, each month I will feature someone worthy of BadAssChickLove on the blog.

For the very first feature I bring you Jessica Camacho. Jessica is both the brains and braun behind the popular blog Girl Walks Into A Bar(bell). She embodies what it is to be functionally fit, working out and using that fitness to make the world her playground.

Tell us about your workouts for a typical week.

I structure my workouts according to the season. Sort of. In summer, I mountain bike and (try to) climb. In winter, I snowboard… provided I’m not nursing a sprained ankle from back tuck practice on a trampoline, like I’m currently doing right now! Despite the season, one thing is consistent: I powerlift on the regular. I like the structure of a dedicated strength program so I squat, bench, deadlift, and press once a week in that order. Wendler’s 5/3/1 works well for me, mentally, so I gravitate towards his programming. My accessory strength exercises vary according to the sport I’m playing that season. For example, during climbing months, I’ll “accessorize” with pullups or grip exercises. During riding months, my accessory work is legtastic with barbell good mornings and lunges. After strength, I’ll do a CrossFit type of metabolic conditioning but I’ll usually cap it at 10-15 minutes. That being said, I like my workouts to relate to my sports so if a movement doesn’t correlate to anything I’d use in the outdoors I tend to sub it out… like kipping pullups. 🙂 I sub those out for strict pullups.

 What motivates you to work out?

I just FEEL GOOD after a heavy lifting session! Everything from the way I sit, to the way I carry groceries up a set of stairs just feels better when I work out. I also have a lengthy family history of diabetes and heart disease so living a healthy lifestyle is one way I’ve tried to inspire my family while metaphorically flipping amputations and cataracts the bird, if you know what I mean.

 Have you always been athletic?

Uhh… NO.  I could never clear the high jump or serve the volleyball over the net. And this one time, in 6th grade, I tried to catch a softball but it ended up hitting me in the face and breaking my glasses. My parents were like, “Give it here! We’ll just solder it fixed.” So, no. I was a total nerd growing up. But I was able to skip college-level math classes because of it so things even out, I guess!

 Tell us about your nutrition.

I would say 90% Paleo. I mean, we cook and eat Paleo, drink our coffee black, make my own shampoo, and one day I’ll have backyard chickens. But, I do save room for Mom’s homemade cultural foods or some aged cheese sprinkled on my stuffed 3-egg omelet every once in a while.

 What athletic activities do you participate in other than a typical work out?

Mountain biking, trail running, sometimes climbing, snow shoeing, snowboarding, hiking, and my husband and I just got a whole split board setup so I guess I’ll be trying to pick that up this season, too!

 Do you have any specific goals set for yourself ?

I love setting goals! I want to learn Orienteering and do an Adventure Race in 2013, snowboard Silverton with my husband by 2014-2015, and learn to surf in Costa Rica!

 What’s one thing that everyone should know about you?

I work hard and I play nice.

Building A Slosh Pipe

Slosh pipes are a great tool to have in your workout arsenal. They challenge the core and stabilizer muscles preparing you to deal with moving and shifting mass in sports and in life.

Building one is cheap and easy. Heres how:

At your home improvement store purchase either 4 inch or 3 inch diameter PVC pipe and endcaps. The pipe should be long enough to perform an overhead squat. Common lengths purchased for slosh pipes range from 6 ft – 10 ft. You will also need pvc cement.

Step 1 – Coat one end of pvc pipe with cement on area where endcap will go and coat inside wall of encap with cement as well. Press on in a turning motion. Note that cement dries rapidly so you need to do perform step one fast.Let dry for 5 minutes.

Step 2 – Fill pipe 3/4 full with water and add a 1/2 cup of vinegar so that water does not become rancid.

Step 3 – Repeat step one with other endcap. Let dry for 5 min and check for any. leaks. If leaks occur then coat leak area with more pvc cement.

Fast. Easy. Effective.

You now have a slosh pipe!

Exploring My True Nature – A MovNat Experience

I spent this past weekend at a  MovNat workshop in Covington, Louisiana. It was taught by Clifton Harski and we were joined by Jen Sinkler, Senior Fitness Editor of Experience Life Magazine who has been covering MovNat. Look for an article from her in December issue.


Jen Sinkler works on precision jumping

I have been interested in MovNat for some time now. I had the opportunity to meet Erwan Le Corre, the founder of MovNat a year ago but have not had the opportunity to train with the group. Until this weekend, I had been watching videos and playing in the park. It’s amazing what a weekend can do.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” – Einstein

The work shop reminded me of this quote by Einstein. From a movement perspective, we are way off track as a modern civilization. We lose touch with the abilities that we have as children. Most try to get in shape by running on treadmills or performing curls. We sit in desks all day. We have become zoo humans , incapable of moving properly and trying to use the same things that got us in this boat to get us out. In order to fix us we must look to nature, to the basic fundamentals of our movement. 

Clif ran us though drills to rediscover those movements, including standing, sitting, crawling, rolling, running, balancing, climbing, lifting and throwing. MovNat is is all about proper efficient movement. It enables you to teach your body to do the things it was designed to do.

Adam showing off his skills

 For two days, people of different athletic backgrounds and ability levels worked side by side and saw marked improvement in our skills. You need a good combination of strength, balance, mobility and agility to perform all the tasks well. MovNat is truly functional fitness.

Clifton Harski shows us how to climb a tree

We all went home with the tools that we need to free us from the zoo. We made new friends, ate good food and learned some things about ourselves and what we are capable of. In my opinion, everyone should go and do this.

Wendy and Liz catwalking on a fence

Thanks to Liz Bragdon and crew at Our Place Studio in Covington, Louisiana for putting this weekend together.

Me learning climbing on a bar

Gone to MovNat, Back on Monday…..

Is Your Fitness Functional? Part 4 – “What the Hell is Functional Anyway?” A guest post from Clifton Harski

Clifton Harski is a movment, strength and conditioning coach. He has a BS is Kinesiology, holds certifications in MovNat, Crossfit, ACE PT, Under Armour Combine Training and the coveted RKC. He is also an ice cream fanatic. You can get more good stuff from Clifton here.

“What the Hell is Functional Anyway?”

I think that functional has become the most bastardized term in the fitness industry with silly examples of people standing on a bosu ball while curling 4lb kettlebells or trying to take a barbell from the ground and in one move (the snatch) put it overhead (I love that exercise, but aside from with a barbell I’ve never had to do it). The term has lost it’s original good-intended-descriptive use: it initially tried to specify exercise modalities and selections which would better produce capabilities in humans that were more “functional” in real life instead of traditional bodypart training. So I’ll define it how I see it.

When defining something I like to start where things are defined, the dictionary.


1. of or pertaining to a function  or functions: functional difficulties in the administration.
2. capable of operating or functioning: When will the ventilating system be functional again?
3. having or serving a utilitarian purpose; capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed: functional architecture; a chair that is functional as well as decorative.

Now let’s discuss these three definitions
1. Pertaining to a function or functions-In regards to “fitness” we are generally saying that the exercise choices will provide a training stimulus that results in capabilities which translate well to human life functions.  Lots of exercises fall into this category, indeed simply strengthening the body in any way could be labeled as functional as having a basic level of strength is necessary for functioning in life. But in our busy lives we want to know which of those exercises are better (not best) in regards to what is going to provide the most translation from the gym to real life. At the end, I will provide what elements are needed to be more functional than just strengthening.
2. Capable of operating or functioning: Most humans have bodies which are not functioning correctly, and so the idea of performing functional exercises is funny when performed by a poorly functioning human.  I’m putting the elements of what I believe to be functional at the end of this article, because before that is addressed, we need to address the human bodies which have stopped functioning correctly due to to disuse and misuse. Before (yes, some people really should go back to the beginning) even picking your functional workout program, you should be screened for a faulty, asymmetrical, injury-prone, non-functional body. I suggest going to a FMS certified trainer and getting your body better before/along with adding on any type of training.
3. having or serving a utilitarian purpose; capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed: functional architecture; a chair that is functional as well as decorative: The human body was designed to move….in lots of ways. While picking stuff up, lifting stuff over head, rowing, jumping rope, and running are some of the things a human can do, it is a very small selection of what things the human body is capable of.  If limited to one environment, the gym for instance, the body will not have to perform new and different tasks, essentially holding down it’s potential of what it can perform.  A true measure of how functional a body is would be to test what it can do in new situations-it’s adaptiveness. Containing your exercise experience to one situation will never achieve the goal of becoming functional at lots of things-in order to do that you have to do LOTS OF THINGS. You may never become the master at one particular thing, true-but really does it matter? If our goal is to be functional then we want to be able to function outside of the gym, in varied environments.

The 3rd dictionary definition also says “functional as well as decorative”, I like this because amongst all the functional talk a very real goal has been said to have less meaning: the goal of looking better. I won’t judge people for what they deem to look better, but the goal of improving one’s body composition and in turn confidence is almost looked down at by the functional community-which is arrogant and ignorant.  So please, let me encourage everyone to go ahead and yearn for a more attractive body-whatever that means to you.

It may be obvious that I’m not too big a fan of the term functional anymore-as it is too generic to really hold any meaning.  I do believe that humans should generally be more mobile, stronger, and have more confidence in their ability to move in varied contexts, and have more confidence in their own appearance. So what elements do I think make up “functional” fitness?
1. A really good diet. Paleo-esque works great, it provides the good fuel to run the human body. Because no exercise program can out perform a bad diet.
2. Some corrective drills which have been assigned to you by a qualified trainer/Dr.
3. Some basic strength drills for our general needs: lifting from the floor, squatting, one legged strength and stability, horizontal pushing & pulling, vertical pushing & pulling, and rotational competence both in stability and power development.
4. Some basic movement abilities: balancing (not static balance holds, moving and continually having to balance yourself), moving laterally, getting up and down off of the ground, apply your basic strength drills to various objects.
5. Fun things: sports, dance, yoga, tag, frolf, swimming, surfing…..etc. These things are essential to taking your capabilities earned from above and trying/applying them to changing situations.

The other articles in this functional series make excellent references to peoples’ individual goals driving your training (exactly!), and excellent varied options for increasing the options of training.

Is Your Fitness Functional? – Part 3 – “Which Training Is The Best?”

Which functional training is the best? Is it Crossfit? MovNat? RKC? Tacfit? A renegade gym such as Gym Jones? The answer my friend,  is not that simple. It varies with your goals? Ask yourself – “What am I trying to accomplish? Longevity or Performance? If it’s longevity then I reccomend following Mark Sisson’s advice as seen in the pyramid below.

You can accomplish the above in many ways. It’s simply a matter of preference. Go to crossfit a few times a week, walk, sprint and some yoga. Or hike and MovNat. It’s really up to you, so enjoy it!

Are your goals more performance oriented? What is it that you want to perform better at? Football? MMA? Endurance Sports? Crossfit? Olypic Lifting? Parkour? As I said before, there are lots of options out there…..even in the same programs. Crossfit is a good example. Crossfit has become a sport. That’s not a bad thing but it is something that you need to be aware of. Are you interested in competing in crossfit? Go to a box where they focus on that type of programing? More interested in being able to perform at a specific task or just being able to perform in general…go to a box where they have programs designed for your sport or have a program that really focuses on functional fitness (lifting awkward things like sand bags and slush pipes is a good indicator). Using crossfit as an example you can apply that to any of the other functional fitness programs such as MovNat or RKC.

Remember that if you want to be a good fighter then fight, a good sprinter, sprint!

Be sure to train in the things that you want to do. If your program does not include that then you need to allocate training days to participate in your sport.

My thoughts and personal experiment:

For me  functional fitness means being able to perform in life, in martial arts as well as longevity (I’m knocking on 40). I want to be strong but be able to sprint well. I want to be able to climb things. I want to have good mobility.  So for the next month I have cut my crossfit work outs down to 3 days per week. I’m getting back to walking 4 days a week and sprinting twice per week. I’m  heading to the park to do MovNat, sandbag and skill training. Of course all of this is in addition to my martial arts training. I’m making sure that I throw in some random stuff like heading to the climbing gym and getting in some play time… Tag rocks! When’s the last time you played tag? Dodgeball anyone? I’ll let you know what this does to my performance in 30 days. 

In the end it’s really up to you, personal preference and personal goals. All of these programs will get you fit. Some will prepare you better for certain things that others. Just remember, overtraining will ultimately catch up to you, so train wisely. You can’t be functional when you are so sore that you have trouble getting out of bed everyday. Train fun. Train Smart. Train functional!

Is Your Fitness Functional? – Part 2 “Why A Different Gym?”

At Riverside Military Academy, we had an old school gym. Brick walls, fencing and iron made up this inside of our gym. Hard rock pumped loudly from a stereo and men (really just boys) sweated and screamed while they forged their bodies. At wrestling practice, we performed metcon style work outs that were considered tougher than the workouts that other sports did. Ever since then, I have never cared for typical “globo gyms” and when my friend and I opened a martial arts school years ago we did it in a warehouse complete with roll up door. So when some friends turned me on to crossfit a little over a year ago, I was immediately drawn into the old school nature of what they were doing. I found out that I am not alone. 

Crossfit is growing at a rapid rate. The number of affiliated gyms grew from 18 in 2005 to almost 1,700 in 2010. There are people out there who were just tired of the globo gym, people who see the results of a functional work out.  Patrons who not only want to look better but want to perform better, whether it be in a sport or the game of life. While crossfit gets the mainstream attention, there are many other lesser known programs out there. RKC has been around for much longer and is considered to be the pinnacle of kettlebell training. MovNat gets straight to the point by training with functional movements in nature, cutting out the middleman that is a gym and lifting rocks, logs, climbing trees and more. Facilaties like Gym Jones  in Salt Lake City, Utah have been quietly starting their own revolution.

In high school, wrestling practice had shown me what jumping rope, rope climbing, fireman carrys, stadiums and other functional exercises could do for your level of fitness. I was quickly introduced to new equipment such as sandbags, sledgehammers and tires. This all appealed to the fitness rebel in me. I was hooked. There is something great about working toward real fitness (not mirror fitness) in an environment where pushing your limits is encouraged.  It brought out something inside of me, something primal. That is why I work out at a “different gym”. But are all of these programs created equal? Stay tuned all week for more installments of  “Is Your Fitness Functional.”

Ido Portal Never Ceases to Amaze Me

Spartan Race Asks – “Are You Fit Enough To Save Your Own Life?”

What is Functional Fitness?

People always ask me about my workouts? My martial arts training aside, the question is almost always…” What is Crossfit?”  and “What is MovNat?” Many want to know if crossfit is  a 24 hour gym or big franchise. MovNat seems to completely confuse people when it’s truly so simple. I often try to explain, they nod but don’t  fully understand. This is about functional fitness. The ability to lift heavy things, to chase or run away if necessary. It’s about being able to climb or pull yourself up over a ledge or up into a boat. It’s about speed, agility and jumping. It’s about being fighting fit. Hell, it’s about being able to get off of the sofa with out using your hands. Here are some videos to explain what functional fitness is – Get out there and get in real shape. Be ready to take on the world and what it throws at you!