After a particularly challenging macebell and club workout last month, Daniel Ramsey and Iliana Orozco – owners and trainers at Bergen County Crossfit of Lodi, N.J. – invited my husband and I to lunch to discuss the history of their gym and the new workouts at BCCF. Danny, the self-proclaimed master of chicken cutlets, made his specialty as we picked his brain for about an hour. Jake, my newborn son, and Conan, their black pug, happily slept through our heated chat – that is, until lunch was served and Conan looked eagerly at his plate.
The following is an abridged version of my in-depth interview with Lily and Danny. You can also read more about their revolutionary macebell and club workout here.ON MACEBELL AND CLUB TRAINING
SavvySleever: How did you first learn of macebell and club training?
Danny: How long ago was it that we saw catch wrestling? Because that was the first I heard of it, Karl Gotch.
Lily: 13 years ago?
Danny: Yeah, so somewhere between 12 and 13 years ago, it made a resurgence. Karl Gotch was a famous catch wrestler, and Lily and I were really into Jiu Jitsu, and we learned a lot about leg locks from catch wrestling. For their conditioning methods, Karl Gotch would use this bell and swing it around his head. So some people started to do 360’s for shoulder endurance and mobility. It never really picked up, but every once in a while, you’d still see people doing 10 to 2’s and 360’s.
When we really started thinking more about it was when we considered why the kettlebell was so much more effective than anything else we were doing metabolically. And we made the conclusion that it’s because the weight was distributed away from you on a handle, that you were using more force than the actual weight of the bell. We went to the mace and clubs to try to amplify that, because we thought if six inches away was good, what would 3 feet do? And we started thinking backwards from there, coming up with movements that would be safe but still provide a lot of ballistic effect to take advantage of that off-centered weight.
SavvySleever: So why now? Is it because the Kettlebell Sport was so popular in the gym?
Danny: Once people got really good with the kettlebell, I knew they’d be ready for this. Like, I don’t know that I’d take a total beginner and not even show them kettlebell swing, clean and press — I think they should do maybe a few months of that before going to the mace. No. 1, conditioning-wise, but I also think they’d appreciate the movements more.
SavvySleever: Did you get trained in this? Or was it just seeing it 12-13 years ago and knowing it was going to work?
Danny: We adapted a lot of the kettlebell stuff to it, and then we just worked on it for about eight months creating new exercises. It’s the same movements that we’re known for doing with metabolic conditioning, but how do you do it with the mace?
One, you have to check that it’s safe, so you have to try it yourself. Two, you have to see the effectiveness of it. So over the course of time, we did 100 new exercises. Maybe 30 made the cut — the ones that were most metabolically demanding, the ones that would make you stronger and the ones that were safest to teach. We’re always coming up with new exercises, but we’re 8 months into the process of getting rid of some and bringing some back in — tweaking this one, tweaking that one. So the workouts that people are getting now have been done multiple times and shown positive results.
SavvySleever: What’s it like when you see something like this and you know it’s the future?
Danny: I mean, I’ll let Lily answer her part, but I always have her as a sounding board. I’ll do something and think, “Wow, that killed me, I really think it’s doing something.” But because Lily’s in better condition than me, I’ll say, “Now you do it,” because I want to see for a conditioned athlete, how it’s going to feel — what weight would be good for her, what time she can do it in.
Even today, you saw me timing Lily. It’s because the timings were long for that workout, they were dragging over an hour. So is it that it was new or it was so demanding to them, or do I have to set stuff up better? So I said to Lily, “Do me a favor, do this one again. Push yourself, use 80% of your maximum weight, we’ll see how long it takes you.”
SavvySleever: How long did it take her?
Danny: It was 31 minutes. Continue reading →