On Strength Training and Strength Cycle: A Q&A with Coach Jeremy
By Kate Reece
Coach Jeremy has been with CFSBK since practically the beginning. In Margie’s Underneath the Hoodie write-up, we learned numerous fascinating facts about the oft-bearded introvert with three younger brothers, such as that he was run over by a lawnmower as a child, is ardent about guns, zombies, and atheism, and as a third grader, was obsessed with an encyclopedia of Greek mythology. Since everyone in group classes doesn’t always get to interact with him as much as his Strength Cycle members and his PlayStation console, we wanted to solicit his thoughts for the blog about strength training. In pounds? The man presses 235, benches 345, squats 435, and deadlifts 505—so he certainly knows something about being strong. Hopefully the answers to his questions reveal a bit more about what all the cool kids are up to over on the platform.
CFSBK: Talk to us about how you got into strength training. What has your athletic journey looked like and when did you first find CrossFit?
Jeremy: I was always active and athletic as a kid. I wrestled and ran track all through high school and ran for three years at NYU. After school I went in-and-out of being in shape, mostly just running and doing stupid lifting when I was in shape. In late 2005 I started looking at how powerlifters trained and since I figured they were fairly strong, I decided that January 1, I was going to start a basic program. After a year of that, I kind of went through the same process with CrossFit—researching and dabbling, and finally jumping fully into it in January 2007. I trained for most of that year on my own before finding CFSBK.
CFSBK: You're kind of famous in our slice of the world for going to the 2008 Games. Tell us about that experience. What was CrossFit like back then?
Jeremy: The games were different then—much smaller, no stadium. It was at Dave Castro's family ranch in Aromas. There were no qualifiers of any kind. You just signed up and competed. I had thought about doing the first games in 2007 but the timing wasn't right. So when the opportunity came around again, I didn't really think about it, I just signed up. I was pretty much alone the whole weekend. I hung out with a few of the CrossFit NYC crew, but I didn't know them real well. So mostly I just hit my workouts, ate some food, and napped in-between. It was three workouts on Saturday: deadlift and burpees, chest-to-bar “Fran,” and that fucking hill run. Sunday was a heavy squat clean “Grace.” I did alright. I think I placed 33rd out of almost 200. It was a fun experience, I'm glad I competed.
CFSBK: How did you decide to start Strength Cycle?
Jeremy: Strength Cycle was an idea that David and I had discussed for a while back at the Lyceum. We saw the need for a dedicated strength program, there was interest in it from members, and it fit in well with my previous experience. Unfortunately, the space and equipment just weren't right and it went on the backburner. Once we moved into Degraw, the opportunity was there and the program moved quickly from there.
CFSBK: How has Strength Cycle evolved since its first iteration?
Jeremy: It's grown considerably. The first cycle was four people. From there it grew to a group of eight; after a few cycles I saw the need for some of the veterans to move onto more advanced programing and the B cycle was born. It stayed there for a while until I somewhat begrudgingly added the morning cycle which I still have a kind of love/hate relationship with. I love teaching it—for whatever reason the conversations are always a shade funnier in the morning (or maybe it just seems that way) and I really have a great time with the people in it. I do however hate waking up for it. I'm not a morning person by any stretch and I don't miss waking up before 6am on the weeks where we are on hiatus. In terms of what we do in class—that hasn't changed all that much. The beginners progression is boringly repetitive, no getting around that. You hit the same lifts over and over again adding weight each time, which is simple but effective. The B cycle gives me a little more ability to play with programming so it's gone through some different iterations over the years.
CFSBK: It seems like the people who have done Strength Cycle all become proselytizers on its behalf. But for those who haven't encountered one of the platform's devotees and are curious, what should they expect if they were to join?
Jeremy: The best way to describe Strength Cycle is that it's a lot like the lifting portion of your typical group class. You're paired up with some people on a rack and you lift. There are some differences—you lift with the same people each day, you have more time per lift (since that's all were doing), you don't have to think about your numbers, and you work with the same coach every time. I think what people like about Strength Cycle is the fact that it's slowed down, simplified, and more predictable compared to group class.
CFSBK: What if they're scared they'll miss group classes? I'm asking for a friend.
Jeremy: Well, you'll get to see group class every day, from the comfort of the bench you're sitting on.
CFSBK: What are some misconceptions about lifting heavy weights (or about Strength Cycle) that you'd like to dispel?
Jeremy: People are too afraid of losing their conditioning. Being stronger makes you better at CrossFit. If you look at high-level CrossFit athletes, the thing that jumps out most is how strong they are. You can't have high-level strength endurance without first being strong.
CFSBK: I'd imagine you've read almost everything every written about strength training. Give it to me in a no-bullshit elevator pitch. Why should people do this?
Jeremy: There is no training adaptation more important than strength. Without strength the other physical attributes are useless, or severely limited. Endurance without strength? Have fun doing boring shit for long periods of time. Mobility without strength? Hope you enjoy competitive stretching. Strength is about force production. Without it, power and speed are impossible, and how can you have fun in the absence of those qualities?
CFSBK: There are some pretty awesome photos of you curling babies and eating enormous chicken drumsticks after lifting. I also heard that you hang out with kids at the Park Slope Food Coop when you're not at CFSBK. Tell me a bit about how you spend your days when you're not on the platform.
Jeremy: I'm no longer a member of the Coop. I'd rather just go to Whole Foods where they simply let me exchange money for goods and services without me having to sweep up a couple hours a month. I have three brothers with eight kids between them so I still have plenty of opportunities to hang out with kids. When I'm not at the gym, I'm fairly boring. I read a lot—books, Interwebs, comics. I put in quality time with the PlayStation and watch a fair amount of movies. Nothing that exciting.
If you have any questions for Coach Jeremy about Strength Cycle, shoot him an email at Jeremy [at] CrossFitSouthBrooklyn.com, or really, just ask him.
- Happy belated birthday, Jake L.!
- CFSBK’s softball team, Las Calaveras, has their second game tonight at the Red Hook ball fields. Come cheer them on at 6:15pm! There will most likely be tacos to follow.
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