BackBlast #066 – Big Ol’ Birthday Beatdown

With 3 of our pax (Kraut, Radio, Bald Eagle) having birthdays within these two weeks, including YHC’s 36th tomorrow, and another pax (Roid Rage) celebrating tomorrow it was only appropriate to have a birthday cake themed beatdown.

The Pax: Bubblegum, Stalin, Miss Daisy, Kraut, Radio, Roid Rage, Mad Cow, BasicBro, Snoop, Hasselhof, Rehab, Forrest, Tiny Tommmato, QIC Bald Eagle

IR: Depends (calf) & Gravy (toe)

The temperature was a relatively balmy 32 degrees and the snow was coming down like Dippin’ Dots this am as YHC arrived at the AO. As YHC was layout out some solo cups to set the grid for the workout, the early arriving pax completed a capri lap to get the blood flowing.

At 0530 the pax were reminded of the core principles followed up by a mosey lap – which required a detour around snow that had been piled up on the track – it appears that our AO has become the dumping ground for the snow from nearby commercial parking lots. Great for king of the hill, a bit challenging for traversing quickly.


20 SSH (IC)
25 Imperial Walkers (IC)

The Thang:

YHC, having all of the best intentions, created a workout that ultimately would have led to the pax creating tracks in the snow that from the sky (or hospital nearby) would look like a rectangular cake cut into 36 pieces. In preparation, 4 Weinke’s were created out of foamcore, one for each group, with 9 exercises listed on them. The pax then separated into 4 groups – 2 groups of 3, and 2 groups of 4.

Instructions were given that each group was to start in its own corner, complete 9 reps of the 1st exercise, then run counterclockwise to the next corner, 9 more reps, then to the next corner, 9 reps, and then to the last corner, and 9 more reps. After each exercise, the group would then only go to the next closer cone on the longer stretches, thus adding vertical ‘cuts’ to the cake.

A twist was added that instead of doing the last set of reps, one pax would take the Weinke and catch up with the group ahead while they were finishing their last set and lead exercise #2. The purpose of this would be to give more pax experience leading exercises and change up the groups as well.

The first exercise was merkins, and the pax seemed to have it down, but on the exchange into the second workout, a complete Charlie Foxtrot ensued which humbled YHC and reminded him of the following adages:

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

On the bright side, the convenient part of CF’s is that typically everyone ends up together in the cluster, which made calling an audible easier. So instead of keeping the 4 groups separately, YHC decided that we would complete the remainder of the exercises as a large group – but still to have each workout set led by a different pax. T-Claps to Radio & Kraut who stepped up to lead numerous times throughout he workout.

The workout then proceeded much more smoothly with the 9 exercises being:

  1. Merkins 4×9

  2. Mountain Climbers 4×9

  3. Starfish 4×9

  4. LBC’s -> BBSU’s 4×9

  5. Starfish Crunches 4×9 (looked a hell of a lot like peter parkers)

  6. Groiners 4×9

  7. Jump Squats 4×9

  8. Dr. W’s 4×9 (smoked the pax)

  9. Flutter Kicks 0x9 (ran out of time)

After completing all of these workouts, the pax had ‘cut’ the cake vertically (cuts being tracks in the snow), but not horizontally. Instructions were then given for the pax to mosey to the end line, form 3 lines, and run a Fire Drill – where at each cross path the pax would drop, roll, merkin, roll back, merkin, and then run to the next crossing where they would W/R/R and so on all the way down.

The pax had then completed the Big Ol’ Birthday Beatdown and had ‘cut the cake’ into 36 pieces. While this didn’t happen as originally planned (and it looked like the cake was cut with a chainsaw) the pax all broke a sweat despite having their sixes in the snow for a good portion of the workout, and heart rates were elevated.



  • Party @ Bald Eagle’s tomorrow night to celebrate Dec. Birthdays. All Pax, M’s, 2.0’s welcome!

  • Building a database, submit your info through a link on Slack.

  • Mad Cow has the Q Saturday.

  • TAP for injured Depends & Gravy



Despite the fact that the workout did not go as planned, it turned into both a solid beatdown, and a good reminder of a few lessons:

Keep things simple & consistent. A message I recently heard talked about how in our culture we often focus on the 1 sheep and forget that there are 99 other sheep doing what they should be doing. Consistency is frequently undervalued in our culture; we are often told that we are exceptional and worthy of being sought out. While this is true, there’s something to be said for showing up regularly and on time to put in work. In today’s workout I tried integrating a good beatdown, a unique theme (birthdays), a specific number (36), shared leadership (rolling Q’s), with a strange task (making what would look like a cake in the snow). It was way too much – especially with 0530 levels of brain function, 32F temps, and a compressed time period to get a solid beatdown (45 mins). Only after I called the audible and shifted course to bring everyone together and simplify the beatdown that things shifted to go much more smoothly.

Vulnerability in leadership is difficult, but essential in shifting from transactional leadership to relational leadership. We tend to like to be perceived as having everything together, but often we either don’t really have it all buttoned up, or we choose to stay in safe places (fartsacks, sad clown hangouts, etc.) to avoid risks and the potential to be exposed. As leaders in various aspects of life, we may be tempted to create space and distance from those who follow. This leadership posture is transactional only and lacks the potency of relational leadership. Relational leadership happens when a leader is confident in the vision/direction headed and is not afraid to take risks and be seen for who he is; this posture allows for mutual trust to be established with those following him. As this morning’s workout was headed into CF territory, I was grateful for the trust the pax had in me to guide it back on track, and also for their participatory leadership in making it the beatdown we were all looking for.

The last truth nugget is that the value of creating a growth mindset culture in your most concentric relationships cannot be understated. Do all you can to foster this today, and don’t be afraid to take that risk – especially when you have a strong community around you who has your back.

-Bald Eagle