Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First results of my functional strength training: Monday

This is my first results in percentage of strength increase. I followed this protocol for 8 weeks:

  • 3-5 reps loaded
  • Same number of reps unloaded
  • 5 sets
  • 1 min rest between sets

Chop down to left knee down 87.50% (40lbs ; 75lbs)
Chop down to right knee down 87.50% (40lbs ; 75lbs)
Lift up to left knee up 233.33% (15lbs ; 50bls)
Lift up to right knee up 150.00% (20lbs ; 50lbs)
Cross-body one-arm single leg deadlift 
-right leg 55.56% (45lbs ; 70lbs)
-left leg  75.00% (40lbs : 70lbs)

It might go without saying, but I’m really impressed. In the past, I have seen some strength improvement when I switched from Cross Fit video training to the Tabata protocol, but never that impressive. Plus, I drastically improved my balance, coordination and speed. As if it wasn't enough, I corrected all my imbalances between sides in only two weeks! I will post some of my last ‘’around the back’’ anytime soon to let you see how this can change your dance.

Fred Barbe
Personal Website

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Exactly like you...never gets old!

It's so hard to find good slow songs for beginner dancers. For some reason, I still enjoy this one very much.

Frédéric Barbe

Thursday, January 26, 2012

And the classes begin!

This is my first week teaching for the winter session. Last week, I was a bit worried about the numbers, for January is supposed to be the biggest session of the year and we were barely breaking even. I forgot all about that meeting my old and new students. I love teaching so much!

Swing Intermediate last Tuesday

I challenged myself to teach the fundamentals of Lindy Hop in 4 classes and I succeeded last session. That 1st class was about getting a good stretch & release feeling from the 3-4 position in the swing out. Of course, we are not doing swing out yet, but we taught several movements using that position and feeling to get ready for what is coming.

We also introduced them to the concept of walking forward/backward instead of rock stepping all the time. This is tough for beginner dancers and I have been wondering how to make it easier. The longer you wait before teaching it, the harder it gets for the students to get it. I could decide to mix everything from the start, but it sounds to me awfully difficult if the priority in the Swing Beginner level is to make them dance.

Swing Beginner yesterday

That class was small, but those new people rocked it hard. I knew that at least 3 of them already have dance experience, so we prepared a lot of hot options to show either to everybody or just some of them. We taught everything we prepared including some Charleston turns pretty tricky. Everybody got it and the guys weer even able to mix their stuff and create new combos. How awesome is that?!

Frédéric Barbe

Monday, January 23, 2012

Square one...again!

It is so rare to find someone dedicated to swing dancing as much as I am and it is not getting any better. Even when Patricia was in town, we would dance maybe once a week, so I had to rely on ''practice followers'' which is fine. I have been looking for another follows for a long time, but I have  always ended with the same situation : most people don't want to work as hard as I do on dancing. Even with a follow already at an international level, it will go nowhere if we don't work regularly on our material and partnership. I have established a basic protocol that I have refined over the years consisting of 3 dance training and 2-3 workout (pre-hab/strength + motor skills) per week. My bet is that I can take a skillful girl and bring her to a competition level within 6 to 8 months. What I have been neglected is the psychological aspect. Girls have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on themselves, especially if she is your girlfriend (my bad). Therefore, I incorporated some tactics such as tracking the results. The trainee can follow her progress with objective tools and can keep her motivation to the roof. Of course, all that is still theoretical and has yet to be proven.

I failed with Isabelle after 3-4 months and now I am at square one again with a new trainee Kathleen. I will keep you posted!

Frédéric Barbe

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Craving for binge day.....

Finaly it's there! I don't mind the beans, meat and veggies all week long, but for some reason, every Friday, I'm craving for sugar. I don't miss the bread or the milk or the cheese or the pasta, but sugar... My mom added some honey in my milk when I was a baby and it stayed I guess! Today's menu :

  1. Sugar pie (yes the whole pie)
  2. Bag of potato chips
  3. Kraft diner
  4. A date at some Indian restaurant
Butter chicken, it's going to be you and me tonight!

Frédéric Barbe

Friday, January 20, 2012

Functional stength

In swing dancing, especially if you go for aerials, you need a certain amount of strength, but strength alone is not enough it has to be functional. Generally speaking, machines at the gym are the worst. They isolate one or very few muscles from the rest of the body. The human body isn't made to work that way. For any natural movement, and we keep on saying that swing is a natural dance, you have many muscle groups that will work together. This is why, if you want to get stronger, or at the very least correct some imbalances to avoid injuries and develop a proper posture, you should find a workout with functional movements. Most of workouts with body weight only will give you that. I don't believe in yoga as much as I used to, but it at least develops functional patterns directly transferable to your dance.

Even if you develop strong rotators cuff muscles using traditional exercises, nothing can guaranty you they will play their role when you need them because you didn't train them that way. What I have tried to do for 2 months now is to work on functional exercises through a strength protocol and I must say, I can see amazing results already. More on that later. Check out those Turkish get ups!

Frédéric Barbe

General Physical Preparedness in swing dancing

For many years now I have tried to explain to as many dancers as possible that the best way to improve the dancing skills fast is to work on their physical aptitudes. Because it goes against the general admitted idea ‘’I will be a better dancer by dancing’’, I never had a lot of success with my preaching. Also, I have the bad habits of telling people the truth instead of letting them discover it, which does not help to get people to listen to you.

I have been across Dynamics Strength Blog last week and they illustrate the concept pretty well with those two pictures. If you did not figure it out yet, the size of the pyramids represent you as a swing dancers : the beigger the better!

Weak General Physical Preparedness

Strong General Physical Preparedness


For me, swing dancing share some key points of both arts and sports and to perform well, one should get inspired by both worlds. I have been studying for a long time how the different athletes of the different disciplines train. The hard part is that nothing is totally like Swing dancing. So you need to get a little of modern dance, a little of gymnastic, a little of ice skating,… In the end, to get as good as we can in swing dancing, we need to define all parts of the pyramid which is not an easy task! I think we are on the right track with the Skill specific Preparedness though. One thing is certain, we need something more specific than any P90X, Insanity or Cross fit program for the rest!

Frédéric Barbe

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Learning the Shag by myself

I am right now without even a practice partner, but this is no reason to stop dancing.  I have been curious about  Collegiate Shag for a while, so I talked with my friend David Lee, and he put me on the right track. I have watched pretty much all videos available, old and new ones, and read the few blogs and websites related. It is harder to find good information about Shag than to get lost in it! I found Tony Fraser's blog and there are many videos including a routine he made called the Manhattan. According to him, this is a good portrait of modern Shag, what people do and teach. I learned it and here's the results. ''Spoiler'' I look pretty stupid dancing Shag by myself.

Frédéric Barbe

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Legendary B(inge)-day

I am going to remember this one for a while. Have a look at those calories! That day really felt like a continous party. I can't wait until next Saturday. 

1 1/2 cup Oatmeal Crisp (maple flavor) with milk 405cal
1 almond croissant : 510 cal
1 3/4 chocolate almond croissant : 1000 cal
Sesame bagel + cream cheeses : 430 cal
Egg 90 cal
Smoked salmon 100 cal
2 glasses of mimosa  260 cal
200g Miss Vickies potatoe chips  1080 cal
Before diner : 3875 cal

At the chinese buffet
Wonton soup 300 cal
3 plates fried chicken/pork/spare ribs + sauces  1500 cal
Pastries 500 cal
Total : 6 175 cal

Frédéric Barbe

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Video time

Whenever I feel too tired to practice (and since it was by myself anyway), it feels just as productive to watch and analyse some dance videos.

Kevin and Jo at Leapin' Lindy 2011

I like them both a lot. Kevin has his unique way to move with his unique body. Did you enjoy the solo part as much as I did? They are doing nothing and look awesome!

Lindy Focus X: Instructor Demos

That is a lot of dancing to process at once! I love Adam & Aba (1m to 1m52). Those guys are smooth! It was also good to see Vanessa dancing with Mickey and keeping up with that mad man. You have seen those moves? They sure look goog together. I am a fan of Mike Roberts and Laura Glaess (5m09- 5m42). Whenever  I practice with a girl that doesn't like to fly, they are a very good inspiration. I took me way more than 14 minutes to watch the whole video. it doesn't awe you all the time, but it sure gives a good idea about the modern swing scene.

Lindy Focus X: Open Lindy Hop Jack & Jill

Some great dancing in there. We understand the level of dancing in a event such as Lindy Focus when we can see those guys competing in the open division. It doesn't seem any of the couples took advantage of the battle format though... 

Lindy Focus X Performance: William & Maeva

How can't we love them. They have everything : a great partnership, awesome dancing and performing skills. 

Lindy Focus X: Wednesday Night Jam Circle

People were obviously very excited to be there, because energy is up the roof! Once again, no need for the teachers to be there to put a good show. I am very glad this has been recorded.

Frédéric Barbe

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The mental game

Nick Williams gave me a piece of advice one day, he said: ‘’Fred, competition is a mental game’’. I would now say: ‘’being a professional artist is a freaking mental game….every day!’’. For more on that subject, I suggest to read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, truly inspiring.

I used to focus on my workout, just like if I would stop it, I would be drawn back to an amateur. I used to workout 5 to 7 days a week, planning every piece to develop my dancer’s skills. If I couldn’t practice for whatever reason, my workout would keep me together. I knew it was too much for my body. Even with my legendary endurance, my energy level was not up to the roof. I was being counter productive.

It might be my geeky personality, but I need to focus on something, so now I focus on eating. My diet being organized and keeping my mental state stable, I have been able to optimize my workouts and my dance practices. Doing less for more results, what about that?!

Frédéric Barbe

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Slow card diet : week 4

I’m experiencing my fourth week on my slow carb diet, as described in the 4HB, and I’m having a wonderful time. Tim Ferris made me realize something I already knew, but didn’t want to accept: eating is the basis of the pyramid. I used to eat bad and feel guilty about it. I would workout 5-6 days/week to compensate for my bad habits. My girlfriend asked me how long would I do it for? My answer : ‘’why would I ever stop?!’’. I was the kind of person when I was a little depressed to go for comfort food. Not anymore! Every time I think about something I would like to eat, that goes right onto my binge day list. This is the best part. For one whole day, you can eat all the crap you want and this will help you to reach your goals, not bad! No guilt, no discomfort, just awesome results so far.

The main down point is when you want to have diner with friends or family and this is not your binge day. First, nobody get it, but they all think they do! People would either try to convince you to stop your diet or how you should adjust it. I thought it was just a gym phenomenon about how one should workout, but it seems it also concern food. I can live with that! Second, it’s easier to cut carb than sugar. Even if you go with meat and veggies, if you didn’t cook it, you can be sure there is some sugar in there.

Because I hate measurements, I won't be able to quantify the results. However, it's obvious I'm getting leaner and I'm gaining muscles. I also have more energy and feel awesome. I had to get more organized and start planning meals in advance which is overall a very good thing for me.
Frédéric Barbe

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Welcome to my personnal blog

Fred Barbe
I have been writting on Swing Dance Montreal's blog for a while now, but I want this blog to be different. I want it to be less professionnal and much more personnal. I will post about my diet, my workouts, my trainings, my travels, my ideas or anything else I feel like. Welcome to my blog and I hope you will find what you are looking for!

Today's binge day for me. I do my best to eat a lot of crap and boost my metabolism. I will work on my shag for a while by myself and get ready for Rockabilly night with the Howling dogs later.