Jewish tradition likes to speak of two different types of mitzvot, or commandments. On the one hand there are mishpatim, injunctions that make sense and are rooted in reason. Absent the gift of Torah, individuals and communities hopefully would have figured out that prohibitions against murder and theft are necessary to create a civil society. […]See More
Blogpost by Bracha Hermon
Faster, higher, stronger. This is the motto of the Olympic Games, and it’s the goal of every athlete. At Ramah Sports Academy, Coach Philip Goldberg – the beloved “Coach G.” – is the one who helps campers run faster, jump higher, and be stronger. His strength and conditioning program is a unique feature of RSA.
“It’s new to everybody,” Coach G. says. “It makes everybody vulnerable.” Indeed, during strength and conditioning sessions, campers encounter, for the first time, serious resistance training. In one exercise, athletes strap parachutes to their waists and run as fast as they can. The faster they run, the more wind resistance is created by the parachute, and the harder they have to work to maintain their speed. In another exercise, athletes partner up. While one runs, the other holds their partner back by pulling an oversized rubber band that is wrapped around the waist. Each pair, along with the rubber band, look a bit like a slingshot in reverse. It’s fun to do and it’s fun to watch, with the added benefit that it teaches athletes to how serve as coaches. Whoever is holding the rubber band must push and encourage their partner.
In this way, strength and conditioning isn’t just about athletic performance, it’s also about the six middot, the six core values of Ramah Sports Academy: joy, courage, pride, coachability, respect, and connection. Working with a partner requires that you show them respect; at the end of a challenging workout, kids take pride in their achievements; and they discover the joy of trying their hardest.
“I love being a coach,” Coach G. says. “It’s so much more than teaching a sport. It’s someone who pushes people to be their best.” As a teacher of physical education and as the owner of G-Elite Sports and Fitness, Coach G. wants the people he works with to understand the purpose of their training. For example, after parachute sprints, athletes remove their parachutes and sprint freely, so they can see how much faster this exercise has made them.
Shir Huber, a personal trainer and competitor in Ready for Action Crossfit competitions, trains campers along with Coach G. Together, they meet with each major sport and customize their sessions to maximize performance for each sport. Tennis players want to be able to jump higher and hit the ball harder; baseball players want to be explosive as they take off running from a base; and basketball players want to build endurance so they can run up and down the court.
“To watch a camper succeed,” Coach G. says, “that is the best feeling that I could have.” For the camper, it’s a pretty great feeling, too.