Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dance pratices : from March 12th to March 17th

I'm sure you will appreciate to the very end!

Fred Barbe

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Freaking plantar warts removal

I have had my first bleomycin treatment for my plantar warts last Thursday hurts like hell! I might need 3-4 of them...arrrrrrrrrg! I even had to skip practice & workout yesterday. I didn't want to push it, because my body has a tendency to compensate even while walking and I didn't want to risk injuring myself. I just hope to be literally back on my feet tomorrow for my practice with Melanie (the non pregnant Melanie).

Now you should all thank me to not include any picture in that post!

Fred Barbe

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last B-inge day

Last Saturday, my binge day started with this:

Binge day sugar pie Pillsbury

Sugar pie (The whole freaking pie, yes!) 2 520
4 Toaster strudels 680
2 Mcdouble 760
1 small french fries 295
2 grapefruit soft drinks 400
Won ton soup 200
General Tao Chicken 800
Bananas fried donuts 500
3 glasses of vine 240
6395 Calories

And do I look fat to you?!


I put weight on very easily. I have been over 220lbs twice in my life and I'm around 185lbs now and very muscular. I started the slow carb diet in last December dropped from above 20% to around 12% body fat. On the other hand, I stopped doing High Intensity Interval Training 5-6 times a week for a strength training protocol 3 times a week. Less effort and better results, I like the sound of that!

Fred Barbe

Monday, March 19, 2012

10 habits of the professional we all know and do

Because I talk about War of Art in a post last week, I started to read it all over again. That book is fantastic! In the second chapter, Pressfield comes up with a list of the 10 habits of the professional must have to survive in the real world. We all know them, because we all need to be professional at our jobs.

"What exactly are the qualities that define us as professionals?
    1. We show up every day.
    2. We show up no matter what.
    3. We stay on the job all day.
    4. We are committed over the long haul.
    5. The stakes for us are high and real.
    6. We accept remuneration for our labor.
    7. We do not overidentify with our jobs.
    8. We master the technique of our jobs.

    10. We receive praise or blame in the real world."
    9. We have a sense of humor about our jobs.

Why can we do something we don't like so much (or hate) and be professional at it, but when it comes to our passion, it is suddenly so difficult? Don't you find it strange? The good news is, others has been there before us and can show us the way.

Fred BarbePersonal Website
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Genius in All of Us

I don't do that very often, but that blog from Michael Boyle was so insightful, that I decided to share it with as many people possible. In case you didn't know that about me, I don't believe in tatlent so much. You can change a good deal of attributes with a proper training, but you can't infuse someone with passion.


''David Schenk’s The Genius in All of Us may be the best of the “success” books. I have spent parts of the last 12 months reading Outliers , Talent Code, Talent is Overrated   and finally Genius in All of Us.
The interesting thing about my year-long study of success is that all roads have led to the same place. The conclusion of all of these works points to one word. Passion. All of these books debunk the myth of giftedness and genetic talent. The evidence is clear that as Geoff Colvin wrote talent is overrated. I must admit to being skeptical but after approximately one thousand pages I now understand.
I have read so much on the topic that I might accidentally plagiarize.  I will try not to. Passion is the special sauce the makes the succeeder. Succeeder is not even a word but it defines the successful person.
The message of all these authors is nearly identical in the final analysis. You can’t create passion but, you may ignite in it in your child by creating the correct environment.  From a parental standpoint passion can be nurtured but not forced. Passion is almost fleeting, ephemeral. Some have it, some don’t. Maybe it exists on a bell shaped curve, I do not know for sure. I only know that it is the common theme of all these books, the thread that ties all these success tomes together.
The other theme that arises in all books in one way or another is Anders Ericson’s concept of deliberate practice. Not just practice but, deliberate practice. The passionate seem to be able to perform deliberate practice or as it is alternately referred to deep practice.  Schenk describes deliberate practice as “not inherently enjoyable’ and as “not the repetition of already attained skills but repeated attempts to reach beyond ones current level”. Schenk goes on to note that these attempts are “associated with frequent failure”. (P 55)
The other concept that appears in all of these works is the ten thousand hour concept. The idea is that mastery of an area will take ten thousand hours of this previously-mentioned deliberate practice. Schenk makes a point to note that “surfing the net is not deliberate practice”. It is important to state that ten thousand hours is equal to three hours a day for more than ten years. The concept might explain why so many of us seem to arrive on the strength and conditioning scene in our forties. The reality is that ten thousand hours may take twenty years to accumulate. Even more significant is that ten thousand hours is not a guarantee of success, only a common thread. (P57)
Shenk also goes on to say that ‘finding ones true natural limit in any field takes many years and many thousands of hours of intense pursuit”. (P 58) He makes us realize how few of us have explored our true limits as coaches or as athletes. In fact, many athletic careers may not last long enough for mastery.
The lesson is sports, particularly for youth sport parents is go to practice. Practice, at least good practice, has the capacity to make change. Games on the other hand allow for too little exposure to the vital skills needed to succeed.
All page references above are from Genius in All of Us.''


I hoe you are as curious as I am about that book!
Fred Barbe

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Definition of the professionnal

How do you define the professional, swing dancer or else? The common sense would point out 2 factors :
  • Do you earn money for what you do?
  • Are you recognized by your peers?
I don't think the professional artist should be defined in such terms. One of the best example in history that doesn't fit in that box would Vincent Van Gogh.

''After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found). His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still. ''

We are back to square one it seems! I might sound like disciple of Pressfield, but why not just accept it when someone has got it right? The professional devotes his whole life to his form of art. The amateur on the contrary is the weekend warrior. The professional wakes up and works on his arts. It's its job! The amateur might work on it if he feels like it or when he has an available partner or when he has access to a studio or whatever excuses.

Should the professional make money out of his art? Of course he should! He should be a mercenary, detached himself from the illusion of pride he can have and sells his arts if he can at the highest price he can. Maybe this will not happen right away. Maybe it will unfortunately never happen. See money as a bonus and not a prerequisite.

Should the professional be recognized by his peers? This should happen naturally, but if it doesn't, that doesn't define the professional. We know all about art circles and how artists can often snobbish about other people's work. Does that happen in swing dancing? I apologize for the rhetorical question!

Getting up and working hard on what matters the most for you, that's what being a professional artist is about.

Fred Barbe

Friday, March 9, 2012

Strenght training 5 weeks results

I don't know what to think of my results (or lack of results) so far. It might be my fault trying to mix 2 protocols that made sense to me.

For my main protocol, I'm using right now is from Barry Ross' structure. He had a lot of success with his athletes. The idea is to pick 2 or 3 lifts (he suggests dead lifts, bench press) :
  • 3 reps 95% RM
  • 5 plyometrics
  • 5 minutes break
  • 5 reps 85% RM
  • 5 plyometrics
  • 5 minutes break
  • 3 times / week
It might be because I have done, cross-fit / HIIT for so long, but I couldn't pick only 3 lifts. Plus, I don't believe so much in bench press. Because that lift isolate the scapula from the natural movement of the shoulder, it doesn't seem too functional. I have also been influenced by the calisthenics exercises and it seems kind of important to lift my own weight.

I divided my lifts in 3 ccategories :
  • Push
    • Dips, handstand push ups, one handed push ups
  • Pull
    • Pull ups, close grip/uneven pull ups, one legged cross body rows
  • Legs
    • Dead lifts, assisted one legged squat
On top of that I'm doing one core oriented exercise per session that I hold 3 times 5-6 sec and 30 sec break :
  • torture twist, bridges, leg raise
Here's my results anyway after 5 weeks. I intend to complete 8-10 weeks at least before any modifications.

Lifts                   Starting weight           Finishing weight         %progress        Frequency

Dead lift             196lbs                        262lbs                        34%                2x/week
Pull ups               22lbs                         25lbs                         13%                1x/week
Dips                    45lbs                         66lbs                         46%                1x/week
OLCBR              80lbs                         90lbs                         12.5%             1x/week
OHPU                -7 steps                      -4 steps                     43%                1x/week

It's impossible for me to collect reliable data for those lifts. Most of them feel easier, but it's quite irrelevant. I still can't do a full handstand push ups or squat on 1 leg.

Close grip pull ups / uneven pull ups
Handstand push ups (half/full)
Assisted single leg squat

Torture twist 3x5sec
Bridge 3x5sec
Leg raise

(The pyramide shape was not on purpose, but it looks kinda cool!)

Fred Barbe

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2 books to save you a lot of time

If someone would ask me : ''what should I know to become a professional swing dancer?'', I would suggest  him/her two books. Everything one with the desire to turn pro needs to know is in those two marvels of human literature.

War of Art, by Steven Pressfield
 This should be the first thing you should read 2 or 3 times if you have the desire to do anything seriously. Pressfield is a writer, but present is subject for anybody that hears a calling, whether it is about writing, painting, dancing, starting a business or a religious journey. He divided his books in 3 parts. The first part is a presentation of a mystical force we all experienced as artists Pressfield called Resistance. It represents everything and every reason that stops us from accomplishing what we should be accomplishing. From your dying mother to masturbation, Pressfield describes most manifestation of the resistance. The second part is about the meaning of turning pro and the difference with the amateur. The last part is about the other force where the artist gather his inspiration from. Thanks to Mathias Gug for introducing me to this book!

The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferris 

Once your start developing the right mind set about your project, Tim will give you the tools to achieve it. This is a mine of resources. Tim Ferris is an eccentric character that has achieved a many impressive personal challenges such as becoming millionaire (by working 4 hours/week), Tim starts with 2 chapters that comes from his very own experiments : dieting with the Slow Carb Diet and building muscles. His approach is very impressive and he collected sufficient data to make his method highly credible. From there, he covers a lot of subjects, mainly about training, but also about sex, baseball, sleep and swimming. By the end you realize what Tim offers you, beside his incredible results, is a method. Whatever your project is, related to swing dancing or not, you will learn to walk a path that will bring you results, faster that what you can imagine.

Fred Barbe