Strength Vacation, or, “What I did at Strength Camp”

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About half an hour south of Eureka, a semi-truck melted. Apparently this concerned Caltrans, and they decided that cars driving by a giant chemical flame ball wasn’t a hazard they wanted to risk, so they closed the freeway. At first this angered my inner driving caveman (me drive fast. me not stop for big fire. me get to town. me crush all who get in way.), but once Trainer Allyson talked me into dropping the big club, we reserved ourselves to relax and stretch out a bit. Lulu, the Bodytribe Mascot, asked if she could possibly get out and move her little puppy legs, and since the surreal thrill of walking a dog down the MIDDLE OF THE FREEWAY was staring us in the face, out we went.

We were about 2 miles back from the fire, far enough back that we couldn’t even see the smoke. To our left was a mountain covered in ferns and conifers (many of them redwoods) and to our right was a cliff with a river down below. If we’re to be having a block party in the middle of the freeway, the setting was sure idyllic. Food? Check! Water? Check! A forest to pee in? Check! Heck, we’re good for a week.

In the face of all things media hyped, humans can sometimes be a decent breed. Granted, our little freeway scenario is far from approaching a Lord of the Flies survival struggle that should have tested our nerves (and there isn’t a conch to be found for about 40 miles), but human goodness was on full display. I witnessed offers of food to those who weren’t prepared for this situational siege, as well as cell phone use for those of us who weren’t getting reception. There were plenty of smiles to be shared, and news of events at the front of the line were eagerly passed along by criers up and down the row of cars. It turned into a casual block party that carried on for about 3 miles. Dogs played, kids skated, truck drivers let kids climb on their rigs (which weren’t in flames), more than one person went for a run and folks would stop by to join us in watching a DVD on my laptop (ironically, “Into the Wild”).

By the time the cars started rolling again, we were almost a bit let down. As if we wanted to part with promises of doing this again soon, we bid each other adieu. Cars caught up to runners and inline skaters and one by one we rolled by the melted remains of the semi which started it all. Strange how we wanted to give thanks to the now cooling heap of twisted metal for bringing us a glimpse of positive human interaction.


Eureka found us put up in a crappy motel that left us feeling a little dirty. Not in that good woke-up-in-a-strange-bedroom-with-someone-else’s-clothing-on-and-an-unfamiliar-smell-coming-from-our-hair sort of dirty, but in either scenario ya gotta wonder how many showers it would take to rid us of the grime (and possibly critters).

And that was our condition as we headed to HealthSport Arcata to teach our Strength Camp in the Redwoods. Thankfully there was enough soap, lotion and Febreeze to hide any residue from the motel (at least no one complained directly to us), and we met up with a group of about 15 people who would, had we a Bodytribe scribe who followed us around at all times, be documented as simply Ass Kickers.

I harbor a hidden jealousy that I mask with enthusiasm and genuine glee when the mirror of history reflects the struggles of my learning curve for many movements while I watch an ENTIRE GROUP master them in mere minutes. I know our Bodytribe brethren Josh and Breon, who organized the event, have had there hand in making some of these people superior humans beings before we ever got there, so I’m guessing there is a trickle down effect, because I watched everyone overhead squat like they were born with the ability. It made me proud and envious all at once.

The rest of the weekend went along a similar path. Sure, heart rates were high and muscles starined a little under the new loads and movements, but, like an army, this group attacked everything to win.


HealthSport trainer/super-hero Seth put everyone through a clinic on speed and plyometric training, and Chris (above) used it to practice his air guitar.


We spent most of day 2 outside, since from all reports, this type of super-sunny day is about as common as the Sasquatch up here, so we’d better make good use of it. Like a weekend of recess, as one participant put it, we played. Hard.


We ended the KB clinic with a cathartic toss-off, in which we unleashed our inner demons by throwing these suckers as far as possible.


A bit of strongman-for-mortals training found our group doing a combo of log pressing, tire dragging, tire flipping and car pushing.



Ya can’t play with clubs without beating something, and today was no exception.


Chris (in the bandanna) , made a collection of clubs, following the model we used to make some here at the tribe. His look better and are a slightly heavier, since he used galvanized steel. Although we looked like a Homeland Security nightmare with our scary pipes, no buildings or monuments were harmed in the use of these clubs.



Thank you, all, who played with us this weekend. Allyson and I (and Lulu) were truly inspired by your ability and motivation! And thanks to Josh and Breon for all their hospitality (and forcing us to eat way too much good food… who knew Arcata had it in droves?).
We were so inspired, in fact, that it was time to visit my favorite inspiration spot in California:

Fern Canyon. Now these pictures won’t do the forest or the accompanying beach any justice, so if ever you have several days to kill and want to visit one of the planet’s truly spectacular offerings, get yer tush to Fern Canyon.


About 80 feet high and, as the name implies, absolutely covered in ferns.

Tiny waterfalls over moss covered walls are the rule, not the exception.


The endless beach, which we shared with two other people about 200 yards away, was Lulu’s playground. She body-surfed waves and attacked the ocean like a long lost friend.


And she saw her first elk, who didn’t seem the least bit concerned about her excitement, choosing instead to munch on the ubiquitous lupines, whose fragrance was strong enough to bury any stench we might have brought with us.


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Showing 11 comments
  • Chris

    Your comments Chip at the beginning about the stopped traffic jam on the highway. Remind us it is not just about the destination, but the journey in between……

  • chip

    Once I let go and accepted that, the journey kicked butt!

  • Glenn

    Thank you both for the weekend. I’ve had such a blast working what we learned into my workouts (from another website to be unnamed but rhymes with dross kit). Yesterday got a new PR hang power clean and today got my wife and daughter to pull the weighted tire down the hill and then back up (followed by some other fun stuff). You guys rock and the rest of you at Bodytribe, I hope you realize how lucky you all are!

  • Zac

    I, for one, take Chip et. al entirely for granted.

    But in all seriousness, after a month of doing all my gym training (occasionally I lug my kettlebells out to the apartment lawn or go for a run) at Bodytribe, I can barely stomach a session in a normal commercial gym, especially if it’s during rush hour. It’s good to be around those with a similar philosophy regarding this endeavor we call “fitness.”

  • Chris

    Zac – I hear you about the commercial gyms. I am lucky enough that I have a unique schedule so I can go in gym during the very quiet hours. So I am free from the crowds. Healthsport in Arcata is not really a chain gym, but not a bodytribe either. It falls more in the middle of the two. We are lucky to have Seth that introduced the kettlebells. Myself, and Josh have introduced flip/drag tires stored out back. A few of them have clubbells inside now. I hope to see the club be buying more toys in the near future. Like bands for example. I have my own toys stashed since the club does not carry some things. Ya know the funny thing is we are in the minority. Most folks that enter these gyms don’t want to use the toys we all love to use. They just want to talk in between sets of muscle isolation, look in the mirror, repeat the same damn thing every time they enter the gym. I know the management fairly well at Healthsport, but the bottom line is my one voice is not loud enough to get the club spending more money, but what is life without hope? I’m positive they will slowly learn the ways of these “unconventional methods”, and change the “thinking attitude in our little gym”. Clearly the management has an open mind otherwise they would have never of let that “crazy” Chip into our building(LOL)(smiles). Were headed in the right direction. What I think is most funny about the cardio section at mainstream gyms, and ours is how folks read books, and watch cable tv while doing cardio. You can’t possibly get your HR up enough while not focusing on your cardio movement. Foget about the silliness of being on a “cardio” machine.
    Peaceful regards to all…….

  • daljit

    chip –

    i appreciated your opening of the joy of seeing human nature at it’s best….
    that and the rest of your guys’ weekend!


  • Katie Mae

    Sounds Incredible. Bodytribe needs logs and Elk.

  • Zac

    New strongman event: Elk drag. Like the firemen’s 175lb dummy drag, but with an elk. We could attract the attention of the “paleo” crowd that way…

  • chip

    Only if after dragging it, we eat it.

  • Franz Snideman

    Great pictures and great exercises! Especially love seeing people use the Kettlebells, clubbells and LOGS!


  • chip

    Hey Franz, thanks for joining our little blog here. Viva la Revolution (like you’ve never heard that one before).

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