Monday, February 27, 2012

Do what I say not what I do : take measurements!

I always thought taking measurements was for the others, those crushed by Resistance with no will power. I now understand that I could not have been more wrong. Measurements are a necessity for any project you take seriously and just because I am a weirdo that doesn't results for motivation, it doesn't mean I should take measurements seriously.

Since I started my slow carb diet, I have noticed a major difference in the first 3 or weeks getting rid of that extra fat. After that, the visual difference was not that obvious. It's still hard to see the bottom my my lower rectus abdomis giving a 4 pack and a half. I started to see my obliques, which means my body fat probably is around 12-13%. For the past 3-4 weeks, I was wondering if I would see any more results. I simply weighed myself last Friday and i am now 180lbs. My pants feel looser and my shirts feel tighter, which most likely means I'm leaner and put some muscular weight on. But it is all feelings and not data. Fortunately enough, I learned to love that slow carb diet so much, that I can,t imagine myself getting back to eating like I used to.

If food, weight, fat percentage, all that is fairly easy to measure and there should be no excuse not doing it. What about dancing? I am using 2 tools systematically : journal logs and videos. I try to compare the newest videos with others 2 or 3 months old to noticed a difference. By writing down my different objectives, I can know what has improved and what hasn't through my very subjective eye. What I should probably be doing is showing my videos to honest people close to me. I emphasize ''honest'' because nice people are no use in that matter. You can agree or disagree, but listening what people think of your art is a real hard skill to learn. Anyhow, you need footage for that!

Fred Barbe

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Practices : Febuary 19th to Febuary 25th

Here's a video recap of last week practices. One of my partners canceled on me, but I got good footage. There is even a little bonus from my Intermediate Swing class. I hope you will like that. 

Tomorrow, I will have my first practice with Melanie Couture. She is a very good dancer, but she doesn't seem to realize it quite yet. It should be fun.

Fred Barbe

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why did I ever get myself interested in Collegiate Shag again...?

Back from the Shag Explosion in Ottawa last weekend, I'm bagging my head on the walls. Collegiate Shag is hard. Not as developed by dancers as the other swing dances such as the Lindy Hop, the blues and the Balboa, the potential of the Shag is there and easy to grasp. Even the best Shag dancers, like Jeremy and Laura, do it as an auxiliary dance and even if they kick ass, we can see that their Lindy Hop and Balboa is way more developed.

I started a about 1 month and a half ago from the original and modern clips. The first thing that appeared to me right away was that if you intend to lead/follow even the basics (single, double, triple), you must be an advance dancer, period. After 1 day of workshops and two dances, I have foreseen what it could be at a very high level and I am far to be there. I will have to work on this new obsession of mine and see where it leads me. For over a year, I tried to separate my Balboa from my Lindy Hop to make them very distinct which is obviously hard, but I am quite pleased with the results. This is the beginning of a brand new challenge, because from what I have seen, my shag looks like bad Balboa at best right now!

Collegiate Shag seems to be made for rhythm variations. In Lindy hop or in Balboa, you learn them eventually to make your dance more interesting, but in Shag, the very essence of the dance depends on it. Of course you can do all those fancy moves, even those moves will be cool or not depending of the chosen rhythm. One of the biggest challenge of the dance, exactly as in the different forms of the Charleston, will be to get out of the very attractive and patterns that makes your life easier. All this is a good starting point and I can start practicing now!

Fred Barbe
Personal Website

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Swing Intermediate students

I have teach with studio 88-SWING for 2 years, Cat's Corner for 1 year and on my own for a year. I won't talk about international teaching which is irrelevant for my current subject. I taught other people's syllabi for so long and it can get very frustrating. I do believe most of the top dancers (I even believe everybody, but most people just don't realize it) are really good at one or a very small amount of things. I have always been impress with Max Pitruzzella capacity of copying something in a glimpse and improving it right away. My talent is to understand the quickest path to get good. I have never claimed to be exceptionally talented! Because what I care the most about is teaching and coaching, I knew I had to become very good or I would get no credibility in the field of swing dancing. I made of lot of experiment on myself and I am very happy to see my first results with others. Actually, I have had good results in the past coaching dancers such as Martin Roy, Geraldine Durand-Groulx, David Caya, Sandrine Lambin-Gagnon and more, however I was way more unexperienced at that time.

Last Tuesday, my students from my Swing Intermediate were learning to swing out after only 10 weeks and they were so good. I blamed myself so hard not having my camcorder... Everything in my syllabus was to prepare that glorious moment and it worked big time!

I will do my best to record them next week.

Fred Barbe
Personal Website

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thoughts after my weekend in Quebec city for Swing A Dance Festival

I was in Quebec city all weekend for Swing A Dance Festival. The festival itself was a lot of fun, well at least the dances, for I didn't do any workshops, but I heard a lot of good about them anyway. The best part has been spending some time with my good friend Jason Herron who has to take break from swing dancing for his mental sanity. One of our favorite topic is competing and how crooked the current system is. He doesn't stand with me on everything, but as he likes to put it, after 12 years of that crap, one can get a little tired.

Most of opportunities to compete are at those events / weekend workshops just like Swing A Dance Festival. It's a star based system. Meaning? The events tend to hire the most popular teachers/dancers hoping to attract people. So far, it kind of makes sense right? Hold to that thought!

The main way dancers have to get noticed and get gigs is competition. There are very few exceptions to this rule and even instructors that are not competing anymore, like David Rehm, competed at some point to make a name for himself.

I hope you see the conflict of interest coming up?! The people who judge competitions are in position to decide who might become the next sensation. It might sounds harmless, but considering the very limited amount of gigs and the very large amount of great dancers, it's getting more and more messy every year.

Have you never got that feeling that X couple was so awesome that it wasn't even contest, but they end up in 8th place? Most of us, at first don't question that too much. We rely on ''experts'' and assume we were wrong. For those who know me, I will just stick to my motto: ''Awesomeness should be obvious''.

As long as a dancer or a couple is not a threat and relatively know (through group, private classes or simply acquaintances of some good dancers), he will get judged as objectively as swing dancing allows it. When this dancer / couple becomes to point where being on podiums would get them gigs, they suddenly start doing bad and will only get pitiful explanations which don't make sense most of the time.

Most of competitors will put the blame on the judges, but I don't. After all, we put them into a position where their judgement might affect directly their annual paycheck and we know that no one gets rich out of swing dancing. People are people and their actions are as natural as it gets. They form small groups, officially or not, and they are manoeuvring to keep what they have. I'm not saying that every international instructors does that consciously or has a hidden agenda, but seriously what kind of system is that?!

Knowing how the system is doesn't discourage me from competing yet. I like to show what I do matter how bad I get placed sometimes. At least, you will end up, for most serious events, with a nice videos and many cool pictures. However, last weekend made me realized that I need to wait to have something with a partner and stop showing up with random partners in Striclky or in Jack & Jills. It won't help me at all. I will then keep my travelling to a minimum and keep training and keep posting what I do!

Fred Barbe
Personal Website

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dance practices recap & bonus : Januray 28th to Febuary 4th

Here a recap of week practices. You will see my very pregnant friend Melanie that agreed to practice once a week. She has never danced Lindy Hop before. She used to be my Balboa students for many years. In two practices, we covered all the basics and she can dance! Isabelle has also decided to come back. We agreed with 2 practices per week. So far she skipped her workouts and her body aches a lot, mainly because of a week posterior chain. Let's hope she won't kill herself in the air. You won't find Kathleen. We practiced twice, she canceled two practices. I emailed her, but I didn't get any answer. And because it's against my beliefs to force someone to become a superstar, I droped the ball. Enjoy!

Fred Barbe
Personal Website

Monday, February 6, 2012

Friday's results : end of my pre-hab cycle

This is the 3rd part of my pre-hab workout plan. I focused for 8 weeks on 2 exercices : Turkish get ups and two handed single leg dead lift. I corrected my imbalances within 2 weeks, just as for my Monday's workout and got impressive results. The protocole was about the same than Monday :
  • 3-5 reps strong side | 5 sets on strong side / 2 sets on weak side (more than 10% difference)
  • Same amount of unloaded reps right after the loaded set
  • 1min pause between sets
By the 3-4 last weeks, I focused on 3 good reps and only 1 unloaded for the TGU. It took me about 40-45 min the first weeks to do 5 TGU + 5 unloaded reps for 5 sets.

TGU right 50.00% (30lbs to 45 lbs)
TGU left 125.00% (20lbs to 45 lbs)

THSLDL Right 85.71% (70lbs to 130lbs)
THSLDL left 85.71% (70lbs to 130lbs)

Fred Barbe
Personal Website

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wednesday's results

First of all, my protocol was not as strict for my Wednesday workout than the other. It was divised in two parts : strength and core.

Strenght training

My protocol was to reach magic number 10 with 2-5 reps. Ex 3reps x 3 sets = 9 or 2reps x 5 sets = 10. 2min rest between sets

-Pull ups 66.67% (3 to 5 RM)
-Dips 80% (0lbs to 45lbs)


-High rep Two handed dumbell swings 25% (75reps 40lbs / 75reps 50lbs)
  • 1 set 60 to 80 reps. I realized it was hard being consistent with this one. The weight I was using the number of reps changed a lot. I suppose I was more tired one day of less the other....I overall got stronger at it and/or my technic got better.
-Myotatic crunch 1000% (0lbs to 10lbs)
  • I have tried to use a bosu ball as often as I could. 10 reps. 2 sec at the top, 3-4 going down, 2sec at the bottom, 3-4 going up.
-Cat vomit ?%
  • 8-12 sec pulling in and one full breath cycle. Because gravity does the resistance and that you always pull as hard as you can, it's impossible to collect any data.
Because some weeks I couldn't not go to the gym, I switched the dips for other push ups variations like one handed or handstand. I also added one legged squat twice, but it is also hard to collect data, because I needed to pull myself up with a strap to perform them proprely.
Fred Barbe
Personal Website