Fitness, Fun and Failure: What I Learned at the NY PCC

by Joe Boffi on July 19, 2016

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Joe Boffi Archer Pull-Up

A few weeks ago I had the honor of being a student at the Progressive Calisthenics Certification in New York City. The PCC was 3 days of learning how to bend, twist and leverage our bodies into chiseled masterpieces. There was talk about being turned into PCC ninjas, which immediately had me excited. However, I was just as quickly saddened to find out that we weren’t actually going to learn how to disappear behind a ninja smoke bomb. It was then that Head Master Ninja John Du Cane quietly whispered for me to be patient.

The information of the seminar was presented in short and precise modules. Keeping the presentations concise was great because it left a lot of time for the real learning to commence through a form of play and cooperative teaching. We were instructed to pair up or form small groups to practice teaching and performing the exercises. From the start, the instructors let us figure out how to move our bodies and guided us to the techniques that worked best for us as individuals. We were encouraged to also learn the movements by teaching what we took away from the modules in our own way to our fellow students.


Along with cooperative learning, a very safe, fun and familiar atmosphere was created. The environment encouraged students to try movements that they normally wouldn’t have tried. People were laughing and smiling with each other in success and failure. In fact, failure wasn’t frowned upon, it was looked at as an opportunity to apply our new knowledge and work for a new goal.

One of my favorite examples of how failure was not looked at negatively came at the very end of the weekend during the illustrious Century Test. A student of advanced age was up. He crushed the squats, push-ups, and hanging knee raises. Going into the final exercise of the test, the pull-up, he had some trouble. But he also had the entire seminar cheering him on. When he dismounted from the bar he may not have had all 10 reps completed but he did have a large grin. Missing out on the pull-up portion of the test wasn’t a moment of sadness for him. I believe that his grin was from the immense encouragement and love given to him as his fellow students and new family cheered along.

I personally had a humbling, yet oddly comforting experience while practicing a new exercise during the squat module. Throughout my fitness journey I have been performing all sort of pistol squats from body weight to weighted pistols, pistols balancing on top of kettlebells or barbells, and even carefully doing depth jump pistols (that’s a whole other story). Needless to say, when we got to this portion of the day I felt rather confident. That was until I attempted my first shrimp squat.

NYC PCC Shrimp Squats

PCC Master Instructors Al and Danny Kavadlo making the shrimp squat look easy. It’s not.

This exercise appeared to be a single leg pistol regression so I thought to myself, “I got this.” Well, I didn’t. Since I considered my legs to be very strong already, I figured there must have been something that I was doing all wrong. I called Master Al over to watch and tap into his expertise. After demonstrating my new found nemesis, Al adjusted a few very minor details and told me I wasn’t doing it all wrong and that I just need to practice. I was humbled by the shrimp squat, yet at the same time comforted by Al and the knowledge that I can take my perceived failure and add it to my box of tools and goals.

Besides the amazing exercises that were taught, my two biggest takeaways were that a safe, fun and encouraging environment, coupled with the humble expertise of quality instructors, is the best way to facilitate learning for all. This seminar also reaffirmed for me that failure is just a way to add new goals in life, and not something to be discouraged by.

And don’t forget, ninja smoke bomb training is coming….

NYC PCC Danny Al Joe Boffi


Joe Boffi is a PCC, RKC and co-owner of Catalyst Sport in New York City, which will be hosting an upcoming SCC workshop this November. If you have questions for Joe, leave them in the comments section below or contact him at

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  • Matt Schifferle

    Great perspective there Joe! Those single leg exercises are certainly ninja!

    • Joe Boffi

      Thanks Matt!

  • Great article! The PCC weekend is absolutely one of my favorite seminars of all time because of the movement AND the community… It was great having you there Joe!

  • Alfred W DiGrazia

    Although I am of advanced age and didn’t finish yet, I had a great time. I attempted things I hadn’t tried since my last son Dante was born. My grin was prompted by the support of the other attendees and the fact that my baby crushed the test. I had Joe as a partner for one of the modules and was taken aback at how much he knew and was willing to share. He is a great trainer and the seminar made him even better. I was motivated by the seminar to change my mind and go for the certification. I was hampered in my training by an injury that was the result of a motorcycle crash when Dante was an infant. I always thought that after that that pull ups were a thing of the past. I began training for the PCC and was making real progress when I was side tracked on Valentines Day by the death of my oldest son. When I started training again I took it too fast and re-injured my shoulder. With the help of the regressions I learned at the seminar and the support of the instructors (they were all great) and many of the students (extra special shout outs to Suzanne Marsteller and Kirsty Grosart) I have dedicated myself to getting that RED SHIRT. It may take a while but I will do it. Thank you Dragon Door for bringing back my passion.

    • Joe Boffi

      That’s awesome Alfred! I know you will get it!

    • We were so glad you were there! You added so much to the workshop!

    • Way to go Alfred!! Can’t wait to see you get that red shirt!

  • So glad you could attend the NYC PCC, Joe – and this write-up really captures the spirit of the event! 🙂

  • Great article Joe! I agree with what Adrienne said, that you really captured the energy and sprit of the weekend.

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