Adult Fitness Summer Camp with Dave Durante (Podcast)

Today we’re talking to Dave Durante, a former member of the U.S. National Gymnastics Team and one of the masterminds behind Power Monkey Fitness. Dave talks about discovering CrossFit after a storied gymnastics career, and how he and his partners came to build the annual Power Monkey weekend into what can only be described as fitness summer camp for adults. We also discuss gymnastics elements he’d most like to see in CrossFit competition, and why elite gymnasts might not be as great at freestanding handstands as many people think.

Dave Durante on the BarBend Podcast

On this episode of The BarBend Podcast, host David Thomas Tao talks to Dave Durante about:

  • Being a “fitness technician” or why Dave and his team are “the Avengers of fitness” (2:05)
  • What it’s like being a Power Monkey camper (6:28)
  • The origin of the name “Power Monkey” (9:37)
  • The Power Monkey coaches Dave found most impactful (14:30)
  • When things get a little rowdy at Power Monkey camp (17:38)
  • Dave’s own athletic resume and time as an elite gymnast (20:00)
  • Free-standing handstand holds and the 2020 CrossFit Games (24:00)
  • Gymnastics skills Dave would like to see incorporated into high-level CrossFit competition (30:30)

Relevant links and further reading:


Dave DuranteDave Durante

If you’re allowing dynamic action to assist in a movement, then you should let the person maximize the potential of their swing. When you’re saying the ankles can’t get above the bar, and that’s no longer a valid rep, that to me doesn’t make sense. You’re limiting the person’s ability to maximize the potential they can generate from a good swing.

David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the “Barbend Podcast,” where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your host, David Thomas Tao. This podcast is presented by


Today I’m talking to Dave Durante, a former member of the US national gymnastics team. One of the masterminds behind Power Monkey Fitness.


Dave talks about discovering CrossFit after a storied gymnastics career. How he and his partners came to build the annual Power Monkey week into what can only be described as fitness summer camp for adults.


We also discussed gymnastics elements he’d most like to see in CrossFit competition and why elite gymnasts might not be as great at free-standing handstands as most people think.


I do want to take a second to say we’re incredibly thankful that you listen to this podcast. If you haven’t already, be sure to leave a rating and review of the “BarBend” podcast in your app of choice. Now let’s get to it.


Dave, thanks so much for joining us today. For those who aren’t familiar, Power Monkey Fitness, it’s a name that sticks in your brain like an ear worm. You can’t forget it.


What is Power Monkey? Then my follow-up question to that, just to give you a heads up, is going to be where the heck does that name come from?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Sure. We like to think of Power Monkey as a group of fitness educators. We are a group of various backgrounds and basically started with gymnastics but has branched into weightlifting and gone on way beyond just those two modalities into a lot of different areas.


We’d like to think of ourselves as fitness technicians, fitness educators. In a lot of ways, we like to almost envision the Avengers of fitness, where we are really high-level former athletes who have come together to bring great fitness education to the masses.


Through our fitness camp, our Power Monkey Camp that we do, as well as our Monkey Method app, and a lot of other programs that we put out there, it’s our way of connecting with the community who are now interested in sports that have been neglected or minimized sports over the years that are now starting to get some recognition. We feel we’re well suited to be able to help people understand how to do those movements in those sports correctly.

David TaoDavid Tao

If you’re the Avenger, you must have talked to Chad Vaughn. I know he’s very heavily involved with Power Monkey. He’s a good friend of mine. He must have told you to bring up a superheroes or comic books reference.


I’m loving it. If you are the Avengers of fitness. Which Avenger are you?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

 It’s a good question. We’ve actually gone through this with everybody at camp. We’ve assigned people. I’m Captain America within the group.

David TaoDavid Tao

I’m so sorry that you have to be Captain America.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

[laughs] That was the one that I was assigned. I will go ahead and take Captain America, and run with it.

David TaoDavid Tao

 I’m curious Chad who is a multi-time Olympian in weightlifting, fantastic coach and all around good fellow. Who is he on the Avenger squad? This is interesting.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

We might have Chad as the Hulk.

David TaoDavid Tao

Only Bruce Banner, but only like the mild Banner.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Yeah, the chill, you never see him enraged. Every once in a while you throw a mild run at Chad, and he turns into the Hulk and smashes everything. I believe, and I might have to get back to you on that one. I believe that we had assigned Chad the Hulk.

David TaoDavid Tao

Power Monkey with a lot of fitness companies has gone through an interesting transition over the past year. How Power Monkey first came on my radar, obviously I know some of the folks involved. We’ve connected before, which has been fantastic, first time recording, which is cool.


I’ve always known it through the Power Monkey camps, which is summer camp for adults for fitness. If you follow on social media, people are having an absolute blast at these events. Obviously, in-person events haven’t been much of a thing over the past 10 or 11 months.


What have you all been focusing on from taking the camps, which are your core business or what you’re known for, to transitioning to a time when we have to do a lot of stuff remote?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Absolutely. We’re not in a unique situation being that it’s affected everyone who runs events. Basically the whole world is trying to figure out, not only fitness, but what their daily lives are going to look like moving into 2021.


We were hit hard in 2020 considering that camps and our clinics and other in-person events are a big portion of what we do. We did host our fall camp in October. We only had 20 campers, which was the smallest camp that we ever held.


We decided to move forward with it because Tennessee allowed us to host it at the location where we host our camp, which is Flip Fest. It’s a kid’s gymnastics camp in the summers.


They had hosted their kids gymnastics camp all summers and didn’t have any COVID cases. We’re keeping us up to date as to the protocols that they were using that we were going to be able to implement.


We felt sure that we would be able to do it. We did it in a very limited number. What we did during that time was we shot a full digital camp. We took that week to get all of the stations shot, all of the lectures. We created over the last six months, an incredible product, our Power Monkey camp online, which we launched last week. That basically is a full camp experience, but in a digital version.


We’re really proud of it, we think it’s an incredible product that has a ton of information in there. It basically gives you at least an insight into what camp is all about. You don’t get the experience.


One of the great things about Power Monkey camps is being there and living there with everybody for the week, and experience the little things that happen between the stations and getting to know coaches and other campers at a high level. From an informational standpoint, this is the next best thing. It’s a fantastic product, and we’re proud of it.

David TaoDavid Tao

 Say things get back to normal, we go to camp, I’m a Power Monkey camper, and I will ask you about the name here in a second, what is my week going to look like? It’s a lot of different modalities. It’s weightlifting. It’s gymnastics. You have a lot of different things. Am I taking a particular track in those if I’m just interested in one, or am I experiencing it at all?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

You’ll experience it all. What we do is, when you arrive at camp on Sunday, we assign you a group. You stay with that group the entire week. The way we set it up is that you will participate in 10 different stations, two hours per station.


You end up doing 20 hours throughout the entire week that are our assigned stations. We have three weightlifting stations, three gymnastic stations, a jump rope station, a kettle bell station, and an endurance station and a rowing station. Those are the 10 that you will rotate through.


Along with that, every morning we have yoga. During the middle of the day we have experience camp thing. We have a lake where you can go paddleboarding, and swimming, and fishing.


We have a ropes course that’s 40-foot-high, amazing ropes course with a giant swing over the lake that’s a good team-building experience, five-mile-running trails through the woods. We have a lot of things outside of the gym, as well. At night, we do lectures. We do injury rehab lectures, nutrition lectures, mental training lectures.


We have open gym time where there’s workouts going on. We have a recovery area with normal techs and hypervolts, all this other cool stuff. We have individual time with the coaches, if you want to work on your particular snatch technique or your muscle up.


It’s an all encompassing experience if you’re into fitness. What I would say is that people are gung-ho about coming in day one, and are super excited. By Wednesday, they’re dead.


Most people coming in go super aggressive, and don’t realize how long and how packed each of the days are. We do an amazing job. The staff and the coaches that we have on board do an amazing job of making sure that they get the most bang for their buck. It’s well worth the price in terms of what you’re getting by the end of the week.

David TaoDavid Tao

Is Wednesday generally the day where everyone sleeps in order to recover for the next three-day period?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

No, it should be. Believe it or not, Monday and Tuesday are the hardest days in terms of number of hours that are assigned. Wednesday is our field-trip day. We take a field trip over to CrossFit Mayhem, which is about 30 minutes down the road. We have a great relationship with Rich in the gym.


Kristin Shaw, who’s our endurance coach runs everyone through a few workouts at Mayhem. They get to see the Mecca that is CrossFit Mayhem. It’s incredible space. They get to experience a workout at Mayhem if they’ve never been before. We have a ton of international campers. That’s a nice destination for them.


They come back. They have a nice long lunch, a break in the middle of the day. They come back to a couple additional stations in the afternoon. On that Wednesday night, Chris does a lecture on the workouts that they did. They get a bit of an education as to the why behind they did those workouts for the day.

David TaoDavid Tao

Power Monkey the name. Why is it called Power Monkey Fitness. It’s such a great name.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Oddly enough, it was an existing company. It was not something that we came up with. Early on my partner, Shane Garrity, who was a former gymnast and stuntman in New York City, me and him had an idea for our ring thing, which is our ring training device that we sell.


This is over 10 years ago now that we started to come up with some prototypes for that product. We started to shop it around to a bunch of different equipment manufacturers, Xero and Again Faster and a bunch of others that were in the space at the time. Power Monkey was an existing company that was making rigs down in Florida, in the Southeast area.


They picked it up, they said, “We want to help you make this product.” Initially, we came in as partners to make the ring thing. I was a traveling salesman with a few ring things on my back going from gym to gym, trying to sell these things. Then over time, we became partners within the company. Then eventually, about seven years ago, six years, seven years ago, Shane and I bought them out.


We changed the direction of the company no longer making rigs and equipment, and focusing more on the education side. For us, it fit because we feel like the power side is more of that weight lifting and the monkey side is more of the gymnastic side. It fit in with who we are as a company and the name stuck.

David TaoDavid Tao

I mean, humans are primates, monkeys are primates. It makes sense. You’re trying to be build powerful, skilled primates.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Exactly, absolutely.

David TaoDavid Tao

What are some of the things that Power Monkey might not offer now? It’s not like you all are new anymore, very established. It seems campus is a tight formula. I don’t want to mess with what’s going on here, but is there anything any courses, modules, types of instruction, that you might be looking to add in the future that you’ve thought, “Hey, I’d love to have this someday,”?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Absolutely. With camp itself, we’re always looking to introduce new lectures and new experts, and new interesting pieces. One reason is because it continues to expand and makes our offerings more interesting, but also is that we have a ton of returning campers, we have people that come to camp four, five, six, we have had a couple campers that come almost 10 times now.


What we try to do is make it continuously interesting to them. Yes, they come for the information, because I think every time you listen, you learn something new when you pick up something that you can apply in a different way, especially as you grow as an athlete.


We want to be able to do is say, “Hey, we’re offering something new so that when you come back, there’s something else you can put in your tool belt.” This next camp coming up, we’re adding a sleep expert. She’s amazing, she’s part of the army CrossFit team, and is a sleep expert that deals specifically with athletes.


That’ll be a new lecture that we’re going to be adding for the next camp coming up. In terms of our digital offerings and things like that, we’re going to be adding more and more programs that incorporate more of the coaches that we have at camp and more of the experts.


We’ve done that a bit with what Power Monkey camp online is starting to introduce our audience more to our endurance coach Chris Shaw. Chris, who is obviously well known within the space, probably the most well recognized coach throughout all of the CrossFit community.


We want people to understand the other coaches that we have in our stable as well, the Jeff Martone, who everyone knows, and some of the other rowing coaches, and Dave Newman from RX smart gear and teaching his jumper techniques. We want to be able to expose people more beyond the camp to some of the other great coaches that we have.

David TaoDavid Tao

Who have you all worked with, that over the course of, you’re nearly a decade, with Power Monkeys, it’s evolved. Who have you worked with? Who’s made the biggest impact on your knowledge base as a coach and an athlete?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

That’s an interesting question. One thing I would say is that all of our coaches have contributed something significant to my education, to be able to better understand how to lift a barbell. Coming in, prior to listening to Mike, and Chad, and Cheryl and the rest of our weightlifting crew.


Vanessa McCoy, we have an amazing weightlifting crew that have come through over the years. We’ve probably had close to seven to 10 weightlifting coaches over the years that have all been someone who have contributed to USA weightlifting in some capacity. They’ve had an enormous impact not only my understanding of barbell movements, but also its application.


It’s my daily life. Now, I have a barbell. I never picked up a barbell when I was a gymnast my entire career, maybe once or twice. For me, that was hugely educational for my fitness and my ability to understand how to move better.


Chris Shaw, just brought him up, but Chris is the guy that if you speak with him your mind is going to go to a new place in terms of how you need to be thinking about fitness. He brought the idea of capacity WOD, which is something that Chad and I and him have been working on for a couple of years now.


It’s a great way for people to understand how to build capacity within skill specific movement. It’s something that Chris has been utilizing within the endurance world forever, and we’ve transferred into more skills, specific development. It’s hard for me to pick one. Chris has done an amazing job.


Jason Leyden, who’s our programming instructor and head coach across at Milford, was able to give me an appreciation of how to tie in all of these sports together and make them a little bit more cohesive from a training perspective. All of them have contributed something significant.


I will say another one, Rika Geyser, who is one of our rowing instructors. Rika’s a two-time games athlete and Olympian for South Africa. She also competed for University of Washington. She was on the all-century NCAA team for University of Washington, which is amazing. She is an incredible coach and incredible athlete.


When you work with her, she gives you an appreciation and a new understanding of what it means to row. You can sit on the row and do your thing. To me, she’s one of the ones that had the biggest impact in terms of giving me, who’s five foot nothing, an appreciation for sitting on a rower.


I never thought I would have that appreciation, but I know it’s a long winded answer. I feel I would be doing injustice to the coaches that I’ve surrounded myself with if I pick one.

David TaoDavid Tao

I don’t ask open-ended questions without expecting some lengthy answer. You’re pretty experienced on the mic. It would have been my fault if I were expecting something really short and not detail there. Let’s talk a little bit about because I’m curious, I’ve never been to a Power Monkey camp.


Graciously, it’s awesome. I’ve been invited before, but I’ve never been able to attend. Hopefully, that’ll change in the near future. I got to ask though, it seems like a summer camp. I’m getting that summer camp vibe, it makes me wish I was a kid again. I’m not getting any younger.


If you go to one of these, you have all the scheduled events that you’ve mentioned, you also have some unstructured time when people can explore their fitness and interact. You do have a bunch of fitness conscious, energetic adults descending on one place. Often this is their vacation. Do things get rowdy? I’m curious.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Good questions. One of the things you need to experience yourself.

David TaoDavid Tao

Whatever happens in camp stays in camp, right?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Exactly. We’ve had to take that stance more and more over the course of the last couple of years. As things with cell phones have become more prominent, but camp is an incredible experience. I would say during the week, things are fairly tame.


We have campfire stories at night that Chad runs, which are amazing. They are hero stories. People bring some of their incredible stories to the campfire where s’mores and beers are had, a normal campfire setting. We get to hear some incredible stories from people who are closely tied to the camp community, like the Power Monkey camp group.


Then, participants, as well, will chime in and tell their stories. It’s an amazing thing that Chad and Jodi, Jodi Vaughn, Chad’s wife, has started a few years back and has developed into something significant as part of the week. On Friday, Friday is our last full day, and we have a fun competition that we do.


Where everybody within their group participates. Nothing too crazy, but a way for us to finish the week on a good note. We have a party on Friday night, and my partner likes to say it’s the camp dance.


That night, we definitely get a little rowdy. It gets a little crazy. We got a DJ. I don’t know if you guys have ever met DJ Sly Amin. He’s incredible. He’s very closely tied with a lot of the Cross community. He’s our DJ, comes out, puts on an amazing show. We have a nice little bar set up.


We end the week on a high note. I don’t want to get too much into it. We’ve turned it into a costume party. Costumes are required, and they get crazy. It’s the kind of thing you definitely have to experience in person.

David TaoDavid Tao

For folks who have been to the CrossFit Games and have gone to one of the after parties at the CrossFit Games, or after any major sporting event, or at the Olympics, after people are done competing, you got all this energy and you don’t need to perform the next day. That’s all behind you. Everyone, they treat it as a big opportunity to sell yourself on the dance floor.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Absolutely. We’ve had to make it very crystal clear, because everyone leaves the following morning, on Saturday morning. The shuttle, for the most part, leaves fairly early. It leaves around 7:30. We’ve always had been very, very clear with everyone say, “If you’re not on the shuttle, you’re not going to the airport, you got to find your own way there.”


People nod their head and say, “Yes.” We’ve had a few people who partied too hard that night, missed their shuttle, missed their flight, didn’t get [laughs] home for a while. Something to be aware of, that it’s a great night, but the following morning, can be rough for some people when they’re on their way out.

David TaoDavid Tao

[laughs] Dave, let’s talk more about your background, as an athlete, as a gymnast. Give folks a bit of insight into your athletic history, because I think it’s very important in the expression of what you do today.


It’s not like you woke up one morning as an adult and said, “You know what, I want to start this fitness summer camp for adults. You had a significant pedigree in physical culture. Give us an insight into your history there.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Absolutely. I turned 40 last year. My career as an athlete is getting further and further away from who I am. I started gymnastics when I was six years old. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to Stanford University. I moved from New Jersey out to California and competed for Stanford for a number of years. During that time I became all American a couple of times, and then stuck around.


My fifth year I made team USA for the first time and claimed a spot on the national team, and became a staple of the national team for the following six plus years. During those years I moved to Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and trained as a member of the Resident Athlete Program. I was a national champion a few times. I was on a few World Championship teams.


I went to Beijing in 2008 as part of the Olympic team as the alternate. When I came back I went back to Stanford. I helped coach a team to national championship. Our first one in 14 years back in 2009. Then, I moved out to Europe. I have dual citizenship with Italy. A lot of my family lives out there. I moved out to Italy for a couple of years. Just about two years, a year in Rome where my family lives and then a year in Venice.


I moved back. When I finished my competitive career is when I first found CrossFit. Started doing my own CrossFit workouts at Stanford while I wait for the guys to come in and train. It became a bigger and bigger part of my life after my stint in Italy.


It was an interesting situation that got me back into coaching. I wanted to step away from the sport quite a bit, not have too much to do with it. Try to figure out something else that may be interested me, or figure another path.


I had an incident where I went to Innsbruck Austria and visit one of my gymnastics friends on the Austrian team. I fell skiing, it’s my first time skiing, and I fell. Fell within the first 20 feet on my first run. I blew my knee out, ACL, MCL, meniscus. I had done it twice before, two on my left and one of my right.


I had to have surgery in Rome, and had to do all the rehab out there. During the rehab process I started going to a gymnastics gym in Rome and helping the kids train. That rekindled this love for the sport and for coaching. When I came back to the States hit the ground running on wanting to help people appreciate the sport that I have loved for the past three plus decades.

David TaoDavid Tao

I can empathize with a bit of that story specifically in that I’ve been skiing once in my life. It didn’t go so well, and I haven’t been since.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

I am right there with you.

David TaoDavid Tao

You know, I’ll go on a ski trip but I won’t leave the lodge.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

I’m on it 100 percent. I tell my wife that all the time. We’re in Oregon now. We’re not that far away from Mount Hood. It’s beautiful. I live in Colorado. For four plus years I would go up to Vail and Aspen all the time. I am all for staying in the lodge and watching other people do get up there.


My legs are not built for that. They’re not built. As soon as I go a little lateral my knees are going out on me. I recognize where my place is.

David TaoDavid Tao

The whole like pizza/french fry thing. No. I’m going to be in the hot tub with some cocoa.


You do your thing. Does the lodge have a gym in the basement or something?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Right. I would have better luck trying to ski on my hands, inverted, than on my feet. That might be the only way that I’d give it another try is if they can somehow strap the boots to my hands.

David TaoDavid Tao

You’d have better luck than most, if that was a level playing field. I do want to talk about, when the CrossFit Games in stage one, because they did the virtual competition of stage one of the 2020 CrossFit Games due to COVID. They announced the handstand hold. Did your inbox blow up with people asking for advice, tips, thoughts, on that one.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

It did. It’s funny over the years, whenever a new gymnastics movement, strict handstand push-ups for the first time, or ring handstand push-up, or whatever it might be, strict muscle up in the open, whatever it might be.


When something comes out for the first time that people are like, “Oh my God, now I need to figure it out within the next three days.” You get a lot of people scrambling and trying to figure it out.


The handstand hold was something especially close to my heart. One, it’s something I do every day. I love being inverted. It’s been something that I’ve predicted for a number of years and hoped that it would be something that we can incorporate.


When I saw it, I was so excited. I gave my prediction as to who would potentially win and what the top score was. I was close. I said no one would get over three minutes. If they got over three minutes, I thought that, that would be an incredible score.


Katrin came closest. I think she was at 2:53, or something like that. She was very close to getting the full three minutes. To me, I loved it. I thought it was an amazing thing to watch.

David TaoDavid Tao

I got to ask. You are a 40-plus year old, former gymnast. I know you tested this out. I know that as soon as it was announced you got upside down, and you’re like, “Let me see what I can do.” What did you come up with?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

We were at Camp when that was going on. It was at Power Monkey Camp. I gave it a try that day. I did, I think it was six minutes, 38 seconds, something like that. My record, which I set not that long ago, a few months back is nine minutes and one second, freestanding, no walking.


Part of the training for things like that, I do 20 and 30 minute holds up against the wall as part of the training for that.

David TaoDavid Tao

Are you listening to a podcast, watching something on TV upside down?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

I’ll put Netflix on, sometimes. I’ll definitely listen to podcasts. I always have a podcast going on. Sometimes I’ll watch a show. A lot of times, what I’ll do is I have markers that I shoot for in terms of what I’m trying to do inverted, minute to minute.


I’m watching the clock so that I can transfer weight and get into different positions according to when the time is set. Having a timer always there, it’s important for me to make sure that I know where I am within the hold.

David TaoDavid Tao

What is your failure point at that? You are holding for two, sometimes even three times as long as these games athletes. These games athletes, some of them are trained gymnast. Katrin, trained gymnast. Kari Pearce, who I believe finished second, trained gymnast. Where are you failing on this?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

One thing I’ll say is that being a trained gymnast doesn’t mean that you’re going to be good at this. It’s because the holds that we do in the gymnastics world are fairly shortened time. The positions that we have to hold are maximally three seconds. You’re sitting in a position for two to three seconds, and you’re moving on to the next.


It’s pretty transy in terms of going from skill to skill. Long hold is something that I started to develop after my gymnastics career. It’s funny, there was a former national team gymnast that had retired, that was training with me at Solace, a couple of years ago when I was still coaching there regularly.


I was teaching a handstand class and I had some handstand holds as part of the session. I had him do two-minute holds up against the wall. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t do two-minute holds.


I was like, “How is it possible that he can’t do two-minute holds?” I had to realize that it isn’t something we work on regularly. A gymnast at that level should be able to do at least three minutes of hold. It isn’t something that we ever do, so don’t expect a former gymnast to be able to do super long holds. He’ll be able to do it longer than most.


It’s a skill you need to train, specifically. Now, in terms of failure points, there’s a couple of things that go. I don’t look at it as a stability issue, very quickly for your listeners, I look at a well-rounded handstand as having three pillars to it. There’s a strength component, there’s a stability component, and there’s a positional component.


What most people will end up doing is they’ll work on one of these and neglect position, and neglect stability. When you’re holding a handstand for a long period of time, it might seem like stability is critical. If you’re looking for a long hold, stability shouldn’t even be that much of an issue. You should feel very stable on your hands.


Which means that you should be able to make subtle adjustments as needed. I move the weight and I shift the weight drastically throughout the hold. It’s not the one position static for the entire time. I’m shifting weight laterally and saying, “OK, the right shoulder is going to take the brunt of the work for the next 20 seconds so that I can give rest to my right shoulder.


Then, I’ll shift away to the other side. I’ll get into a big arch and my back is taking a lot of the weight, a lot of the pressure. I’ll shift my weight and take all of the pressure off of the fingertips on my right side so that the forearm on the right gets a break. For me, it’s about making sure that you shift the weight according to where the stress points are.


The biggest stress points are going to be your shoulders, your upper back and your forearms. Those are the three that you need to always be conscious of and to be able to shift your weight accordingly.

David TaoDavid Tao

Interesting. I appreciate that and like I said, it’s interesting seeing the different techniques that people attempted. Some with the split legs, it was like they were on a balance, a tightrope wire and they had a balancing pole. They could make those subtle shifts by gradually changing how they were flexing their legs.


It was a interesting test and it was one I absolutely had to ask. I know that your inbox was getting blown up.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

I loved that one, that was a huge one. I hope they actually do it again. Maybe they’ll do it in the open or something. At least up against the wall.

David TaoDavid Tao

What are some gymnastics tests, speaking in the CrossFit realm specifically, because we’re not going to make Chad Vaughn hold a handstand anytime soon?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

I will [laughs] .

David TaoDavid Tao

Maybe on a bet we will. At least not in a weight lifting competition. What are some other gymnastic elements? It could be ones that, maybe, you do train as the gymnastic skill, where you are the competitive gymnast, or it could be one that maybe you don’t. What are some bodyweight, or gymnastic skills, or movements, or tests that you’d like to see incorporated into the CrossFit games?


Dave DuranteDave Durante

The handstand hold one that we saw was a great one. That one’s one that I had been hoping for for a long time. There are some standards that I would like to see changed. With regards to movements that you’re seeing consistently now. One with regards to bar muscle up.


If you’re allowing dynamic action to assist in a movement, then you should let the person maximize the potential of their swing. When you’re saying the ankles can’t get above the bar and that’s no longer a valid rep. That to me doesn’t make sense because you’re limiting the persons’ ability to maximize the potential they can generate from a good swing.


In my mind, changing the standard on something like that, changing the standard on a handstand pushup. Not allowing hands to be more that two inches outside of shoulder width. You should not allow for a very wide handstand pushup, you should make sure that a tripod position is in place when the head is traveling in front of the hands.


I would take out keeping handstand pushups completely from competitive setting.


David TaoDavid Tao

You’d upset a lot of people by doing that.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

I know, I would, but I would also protect them from neck damage that they’re going to be feeling 10 years on the road. For me, especially people that are keeping handstand pushups in place of being able to do, strict handstand pushups. It’s a different conversation when you have a games athlete, who can do 50 strict like Kerri in a row.


Then, she uses kipping to facilitate speed on top of the strength that she already has. If you’re using the kipping in place of the strength, that’s when you start seeing an issue. Some of those standards would benefit the community more, if we could see those, and allow that person to benefit from good technique. Things like all sets, things like strict toes-to-bar.


I would love to see a strict toes-to-bar, where we’d put up stall bars behind the person and see whether or not the person is capable of doing a correct toes-to-bar. What I mean by correct toes-to-bar, meaning, not a lot activated toes-to-bar. As soon as you create lat activation, you’re bringing bar-to-toes and no longer toes-to-bar.


That’s saying, “OK, my limitation is either a strength of my hip flexors or my abs, or a limitation from a mobility standpoint of my hamstring and lower back. What I’m going to do to compensate for that is bring the bar down to my ankles. You put a bar behind you, you put a wall behind you and it limits your ability to do lat hold down, it forces you into doing it more correct.


I would love to see some strict, wall related toes-to-bar incorporated sometime soon.

David TaoDavid Tao

Dave Castro, I sure hope you’re listening to this episode specifically.


Dave, other Dave. Not to get three Dave’s in this podcast. Dave, where’s the best place for people to follow along with the work you do and also with Power Monkey?

Dave DuranteDave Durante

You can go to or, if you’re looking for the events side of things. Our Instagram @powermonkeyfitness, my personal one is @davedurante.


The other thing that Power Monkey Camp online that we were discussing is and that’s where you can find the majority of what we’re doing right now.

David TaoDavid Tao

Excellent. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Dave DuranteDave Durante

Great talking to you, Dave. Thank you.