What is AXP and why is this my dryland training regime of choice?

For the readers (more likely singular reader) that manages to find this blog, they may be wondering what the AXP workouts are that I have been describing each week in the training section.  I thought it might be time to write a short post about what AXP is and why it has become my dryland training regime of choice.

In my early years of paddling I can easily say that I was like the average recreational paddler. I didn’t pay much attention to stretching, nutrition, or fitness during paddling season and my paddling performance on a Sunday afternoon was always much worse than Saturday morning for most paddling weekends.  Over the last few years of paddling I have increased my number of river days each year as well as the difficulty of the rivers that I have paddled. One thing that became obvious to me was that to paddle multiple days in a short period (such as the 6 river days  in a week that I experienced in Costa Rica in October 2017), and paddle harder features I needed to up my fitness level. This is where ATHX Performance and their AXP group fitness class have come in.

I was introduced to ATHX Performance (at that time it was The Base by RVH) by my friend Nicole Luchanski. Nicole has been a high performance athlete at ATHX (I think near its inception) and she recommended that I talk to her nutrition coach when I was having a hard time keeping my energy up. As part of the coaching sessions, I had a tour of the facility and eventually convinced myself to give their group fitness classes a try. For a person who has always disliked the gym and really only enjoyed subjecting myself to hard cardio sessions (stairs or spin class) I was a little intimidated that I might not be the right person for this type of facility, but I really had nothing to lose.

These group fitness classes have evolved into what they now call AXP (Athletic Extreme Performance).  These workouts are a Crossfit style workout with each workout having a specific theme based on a sport. The exercises involved vary from workout to workout and often include kettlebells, battle ropes, medicine balls, box jumps,  sleds, cardio (sprints, stairs, biking, rowing) and anything else they can think of.  Each workout consists of a set of stretches (movement prep) so that we are ready to go and as part of the workout there is a measurable so that you can compare performance to others who have done the workout during that day. At the end of every workout I feel fully exerted and overall I think I have made improvements.

Having now been a patron of ATHX for about 2 years I can say that this is the only program I have ever been motivated to keep up with. I think the variety of exercises, the focus on getting technique right (instead of worrying about weight or speed), and the small classes (capped at 12 but usually about 6) have kept me coming back. Even with having to do some exercises I hate (burpees, kettlebell swings, and most barbell exercises) this gym has provided me with a program that has had a positive impact. Outside of finding some way to afford a personal trainer I think this program will be part of my life for the foreseeable future.

This summer (2018) will be the first summer that I attempt to keep the sessions going through the paddling season, as the last two years I put them on hold.  I am hoping that this will allow me to keep my fitness at a high level so that when nationals hit the Kananaskis in August I am able to be at my best.

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