I had a few goals when planning this workout. I wanted it to be safe and not actually hurt or punish him. I wanted it to be hard, to make him sweat and have to bring some kind of intensity. I wanted to see if I could do it, if I could plan a workout that made sense. I wanted it to be fun for me and for Mat. And I knew it would have to entertain, if people were just going to sit and watch someone work out for an hour.
Which is how we ended up doing Jedi Training.
Sadly, I am not very good at planning a training program, so it wasn't particularly balanced or in a very logical order. Bit of a fail on that end. I kind of approached it half like a camp theme day and half like a library PD day program. Still, I came up with a lot of potential ideas and one of the hardest things was to narrow it down to what could be done in an hour. This is what I ended up choosing:
Jedi Training workout
For the warm-up, it was running back and forth as fast as possible from the wall to a cone or marker, for two minutes. (Because I'm a nerd, I made the "cone" my R2D2 unit. Yes, I did.) I was winded watching him after just 30 seconds. One of our volunteers jumped in and ran it with him for the last 45 seconds. Oh, did I mention that I also made him wear the Yoda backpack, making it really look like Luke doing his Jedi training in the swamp? (Mat was a good sport to let me dress him up like that, and I highly recommend the investment of a Yoda for any Star Wars fan. 'Cuz you never know when you'll want to look like you're carrying Yoda on your back!).
Originally I had planned this as a TRX move, which seemed hard enough. Mat opted to do his hand stand push-ups more free-style, up against a wall. I had suggested doing 5-10 of them, and he did 8! To be honest, this was the one thing I wasn't sure was reasonable to include (because, come on, how many people can really do handstands, let alone push-ups on your head?). But he did, and it looked impressive. Something to remember for next time, though: don't do anything upside down right after you've eaten a big lunch. It, um, will throw off the rest of your training.
Using an app on my phone as the timer, each exercise was done for 30 seconds, for 6 rounds (with a 45 second break in between each round). Takes about 20 minutes.
Death Star Slams
Also known as medicine ball slams, we used the heaviest bouncing ball the gym has. 30 lbs of torture, repeatedly lifted and slammed overhead onto the floor. The ball kind of looked like the Death Star, too; that grey-blue colour. And brutishly heavy.
Pod-racer Prep: Rapid-fire Rows
Using a resistance band looped around a very secure machine, you squat and row the bands in and out as fast as you can. It wears the arms out pretty quickly. At least, it does when Mat makes ME do it.
These are just jump squats, but when done right, they really do look like the Force is with you. Someone even made a comment to that effect in the first round, that it looked like Mat was flying. By the last round? Not looking so much like the Force was lifting him magically off the ground, Mat transitioned to regular squats. The impact is pretty hard on the knees.
Sandy the Sandbag had to make an appearance. She's been my nemesis ever since Mat got her. So having him plank and pull the sand bag underneath him from left to right was the one part of the training that was a little bit of vengeful payback. I have a Dark Side, too. The sandbag usually makes me feel like someone has pulled my arms off, which is what Chewbacca can do if you make him mad.
Russian Twists, sitting in a V and twisting from side to side while holding a flat weighted plate, looks a lot like you're trying to deflect all those Storm Trooper blaster guns that are being fired at you. Never mind that we'd just done a full minute of the twists in the Group Core class that Mat had taught an hour before. I made him do them again. And again. And again.
As we were getting near the end of things, I wanted to throw in some balance stuff. I also wanted to incorporate my plastic lightsabers, because that's not something you get to use every day! My original plan called for having Mat stand on the Bosu ball, with one knee raised up, holding that position while passing an object back and forth in his hands, keeping his arms up the whole time. He'd had me do that a few weeks ago with a medicine ball. I was going to have him use the lightsaber. However, I realized that a lot of the people watching had been sitting for awhile and were probably getting a bit bored. My library programmer instinct kicked in, and I said, "who's going to join him in the last few rounds?" So it turned into a much more fun, albeit less workout-y, lightsaber battle. One guy balancing on an overturned Bosu, another on the balance board, hacking away at each other like little boys. Audience members (myself included) enjoying every minute of it.
There was still time left in the hour, for which I was not completely prepared. I had a few backup ideas up my sleeve, but they were all a bit too intense for the ending and I hadn't formulated the ideas all the way in my head. (How to turn centipedes into AT-AT walks, for example. Or chin-ups.). So, I set one last challenge. "Who's going to join Mat for..."
It became a plank challenge, simply to see who could hold a plank for the longest, and who could outlast Mat. There were 4 brave souls who joined him on the floor. Two of them were kids. I tell you what, those kids kicked butt. They held their planks for an eternity! Long enough that I gave them the plastic "may the force be with you" bracelets that I had intended for Mat, had he completed his training.
So, I think it was fun. I definitely came away with more of an appreciation for the planning that goes into training, not to mention the knowledge and education required as a foundation, and not just by Mat. He wasn't the only personal trainer around, some of his colleagues and coworkers were watching. At one point I was distracted, trying to take pictures of the lightsaber duel, and the boys said, "how much longer do we have to do this?" I said, "uh, another minute." A voice behind me laughed. "Spoken like a true trainer," she said. "Always 'one more minute." I also got to feel what it's like on the other side. I usually am the one who's sweating, cursing, thinking "this is so hard!" It's actually kinda boring standing there, watching, especially when you don't know what you're looking for. And when I could see that something I'd planned was causing pain, I didn't know how to modify it. Communication was key: I may not be quite so quick to roll my eyes every time Mat asks how I'm doing or what my knees are feeling. I roll my eyes because I think to myself, "stupid question, isn't it obvious?" But ... no. No, it's not obvious.
Seems like we are always in training, Mat and I. Even when I think I'm coaching him, I'm still learning.