Valor Strength & Fitness

A Lot To Be Thankful For 

I figured we take a moment out of our busy afternoons to enjoy a cute pup who also loves doing what we love! 

I want to take a minute and recognize all of you for your hard work. 

Thank you! Thank you for the time you give to ensuring Valor is successful. Thank you for making it a priority to help someone else. Thank you for the items you donate to Valor. Thank you Key Holders for paying your donations. Thank you members for paying your dues. 

We all give a little and a little equals a lot! Without a little we have nothing. 

August marks one year in our building. That is one year of always paying our rent on time and never an interruption of our utilities. 

Never doubt the affect a committed group can have on a community. 



Dear Valor Members,
In order to simplify our fee structure, a standardized payment plan was created and has been posted on our site (Fees) and payment box at the gym. 

Please review this new fee schedule and remit payments by the 5th of each month. 

Payment is accepted by checks, cash, or through Paypal ( (Please note your name on your payment)

We appreciate your continued support to sustain our gym and uphold our commitment to the community. Remember we are a small non-profit gym and our community exists because of your support. If you are not a Valor me ever but are interested in our mission please view our website at 
If you have any questions please email (

Valor Finance Team

The sum is greater than the individual. 

I earned another GRT patch today, but more importantly WE earned a patch! I’m pretty damn tiered and writing this on my way to Texas, but wanted to put into words what I was to tired to say earlier.  

I do GORUCK events not because I like the individual aspect, on the contrary I LOVE the team element. Embracing the suck with a bunch of wierdos puts me back into that element I have been trained in. So thank you for letting me “play” Doc today. 

In the Army I was trained that I am not a beautiful snowflake – I’m not a precious individual. That my pain and suffering likely paled in comparison to that of the whole of my team. That my individual sacrifices where nothing. That accomplishing the mission objective, and ALL of us coming home alive was the upmost important task. Nothing else. MISSION FIRST. That sitting on my ass in security position (or ORP) could mean my friend takes a bullet to the chest because I was too “tired” to pull security on my knee. 

So we, our team, earned that patch. I likely would not have even done the event if it was not for my friends being there (very similar to why I went back to Iraq, and Afghanistan after being injured). So your effort, your embracing the suck, made our mission successful, and I thank you for that. 

One of the best quotes I’ve ever heared at a GORUCK – “it’s not like America can go backwards to being “great” again. Because we don’t live in the past.  But maybe America has forgotten what the military has not; that the man/women to your left are right are worth your sacrifice.” They’re worth you taking a knee in security, carrying the heavy shit yet again even though your tierd, helping them fix their car in a pinch, helping tutor their kids… It doesn’t matter, black/white, rich/poor, hungry/fed. They are all worthy of your sacrifice. 

Because that’s what Americas first motto was “E Pluribus Unum” – “out of many, ONE”.  

As such, that patch is going to get framed and put up at Valor SF. Because I didn’t earn it. WE EARNED IT. 

The sum is greater the the individual parts 

I earned my GORUCK patch today, but more importantly WE earned our patches today. 

I do GORUCK events not because I like the individual aspect (quite contrary I like the it is about the TEAM) and today no matter how much I may have been able to accomplish as an individual, it would not have been possible with my TEAM. 

I also enjoy them because it puts me back in an environment that I’m comfortable  with and understand. I’ve been trained for years for this kinda crap, and embracing the suck with a bunch of other similar minded people is heart warming. Today I got to be back in my natural aspect as a medic because of other people, because other weirdos trusted me, and allowed me to help. 

The Clean and Jerk – Poetry in Motion


Hey everyone. So the clean and jerk is a foundational lift. If you’re like me you LOVE the weightlifting lifts!!!! If not, ok, we can agree to disagree.

I want to take a moment and point out some things you can see during Yeison Lopez’s C&J. These are things we all muddle up and it is through repetitive correct practice that we get better at this lift. A lot of what I’m going to say will sound very familiar to most. Often we hear it without the opportunity to see it in action.

I recommend you adjust this internet window so it takes up half your screen and open the video in a separate internet window and put them side by side. Watch the video once through. Then read a paragraph and watch that section of the video, and more than once if you like. So here we go…. Beginning with the slow motion portion at 19 seconds in.

Notice Yeison’s set up at the beginning of the lift. His butt is not high in the air with his chest low but his butt is low only so that his chest is up and tall (check out that straight back!).

On the take off see how his body rises as one unit. Often you will hear me say rise with your shoulders. What you are not seeing is two distinct motions where his butt takes off upward first followed by a low leaned over chest rising to catch up. His back is solidly straight as the weight overcomes inertia and begins to move.

As the weight passes the knees notice the knees are pushed out to create space and keep the shin mostly vertical. If the shins are not mostly vertical then when the bar reaches the area of the knee, the knee will be in the way and this is where lifters fault by swinging the bar out to go around their knees. Once this happens we no longer have a straight bar path.

See that Yeison hits triple extension (on his toes, knees straight, and hips all of the way open) and his arms are not bent. Our arms do not pull the weight up in this lift, our legs pull the weight up and our hips increase the speed of the weight giving us time for our arms to PULL US UNDER THE BAR. Also, Yeison’s head is upright and inline with his spine and not thrown backwards with his face looking up the ceiling.

Check out how Yeison’s arms are below the bar and his elbows are parallel to the ground before the bar lands on his shoulders. We commonly see a fault of the bar landing with our elbows down and then we make an effort once we are static to push our elbows up. His catch is low, giving him time to do all the necessary adjusting before the weight lands. Yeison has a straight back and is sitting in the bottom of his squat nice and tall, not bent over.

Again he stands straight up with the weight in one motion. His shoulders rise and his hips shoot in under the weight. He does not stand up by shooting his butt up. His back is straight as it can be. If lifting, your back cannot maintain it’s integrity (straightness) that is telling us that the weight being lifted is TOO heavy and we are setting ourselves up injury if we continue on. Once we feel our back bend, it’s time to drop the weight. This is not a point a failure, but rather a point that tells us where to begin strengthening our backs.

  • Side Note: weight lifting belts are meant to prevent an organ or fatty tissue from squeezing through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue, i.e. causing a hernia. They do this by providing a false floor of sorts to push against. Weight lifting belts DO NOT protect against herniated spinal disks! What DOES  is lifting with proper spinal alignment. 

Once he stands up with the weight he adjusts his feet back under his hips. This is crucial to his success. The further away (left and right) our feet are from our hips the less ability we have to generate power for the jerk.

Now the jerk begins. See how Yeison overcomes inertia again with the weight by dipping at the knees and NOT the hips. During his dip his chest stays tall and upright, again the back is rigidly straight. His knees bend and push out, they do not just slide forward. Pushing the knees out serves multiple purposes; it puts less sheer on the knee structures, it puts the hip joint in external rotation, which gives us torque (without getting too sciency – torque is a rotational force, imagine what happens when you wind something up and let it go) and helps to maintain the natural lorodotic curve in our lumbar spine under load. If we surrender this lorodotic curve and reverse to a kyphotic curve (rounded forward lower back) the song “won’t you take me to hernia town” should start playing in your head! Remember – what happenes at the hip and below during the dip determines the trajectory of the weight and the finishing positions, not the arms.

As the weight goes up Yeison pulls his chin back and out of the way. This allows the bar path to be straight up. He shoots is feet out.

  • There is a flaw here, no lifter is perfect at everything. Yeison’s  feet are not shifting forwards and backwards at the same time. In this video his back foot leaves the ground well before his front foot takes off.

The power to move the weight upward is generated from the dip, it is NOT lifting the weight up with the arms. We get the weight moving and we quick, fast and in a hurry drop and push under the bar. That’s right, our arms are not pushing the weight up but pushing up to use the weight to push us under.

This is one of the major keys to the jerk. Yeison’s arms are locked out BEFORE his feet make contact with the ground. Doing this, and it’s easy to see in the slow motion, the weight lands on a solid structure and is prevented from crashing down on his head. This is important, what joint is stronger, the shoulder or the elbow? When we bend the elbow we remove the shoulder’s ability to be the base strength structure for our arm section of this lift and default it to the elbow. I think we all agree that our elbow is not as strong and stable as our shoulder.

But you wonder, “I hear you say bent joints absorb shock; I don’t want my spine to absorb the shock of this lift so why lock out my elbows?” Good point, we will get to this. Stick with me and keep reading.

So Yeison has the weight locked out overhead. The weight is directly over his center of gravity, the barbell is not out in front of him or behind him overhead. His back remains straight.

Now lets move down, we are still in the split position of the jerk and lets talk hips, legs and feet.

Yeison’s hips are facing forward, squared off you might hear me say. They are not slightly turned to his right.

BOTH of his knees are bent. His back leg does not catch the weight straight. Notice as well the heel of his back foot does not touch the ground. Yes, we do almost all of our lifting on our heels, but this is one of the few exceptions, your weight must be on your toe-midfoot of the back foot.

So that question earlier of our spine absorbing the shock, lets get back to this. This part of the lift is where we absorb shock. This is Newton’s Laws at play.

  • So the weight decelerates and comes to a stop in our palms, this force is passed through our locked out wrists, travels down our forearm passing our elbow continuing on through our upper arm. The force enters our shoulder and is passed to our torso and this is where the magic happens, the force passes through our hips and down our upper leg and hits our knees and here it stops! It stops and is absorbed essentially because our knees act like a coiled spring and bounce. If that back leg is not bend the force goes through the knee down the lower leg into the foot and right back up (because every action has an opposite and equal reaction) and this is that uncomfortable to painful jarring feeling we can experience. Over time and repeated use of this improper biomechanics we can experience damage to the facets on our spine, the cartilage disks and possibly other places of our bodies.

To recover he slides the front foot back first and the back foot comes forward to meet it. In a perfect world this is 50/50. You’ll notice as he demonstrates control with his feet together he is wobbling. There is nothing wrong with this really, but I point it out to show how heavy this load is. His body is naturally adjusting to keep it balanced over head. With a load like this there is NO safe/reliable way to only move one foot, thereby shifting the weight away from his center of gravity and then regaining control under it. When we split jerk we have more time than push jerking to push under the bar. There is nothing wrong with push jerking. If you find it works better for you than go for it! Sometimes lifters are hindered in the push jerk not by their strength but by their flexibility. Jerking provides the added benefit of securely balancing the load over a wide base, think pyramid.

All right, I know this is a lot of information, and this is really not all of it. There are a lot of other mistakes that can get made and commonly do and finer points I could chew into. But for those who are more visual learners vs audio and for those who love all of the nitty gritty technical details I thought I would make your day.

This is why the clean and jerk and the snatch take practice. This is why almost everyone cannot walk into the gym for the first time and be great at these, the few that do find National, Olympic, and professional success in the sport of weightlifting.

But with all hard work comes well-earned rewards. The better we become at this lift the stronger, more explosive, and more powerful we will become. The more we do, it will carry over into the other work we do in the gym.

When some of these points are not met in the lift they can lead to injury. This is why the devil is in the details and our coaches hammer these points. Our goal is to NEVER make any one feel discouraged while lifting! But we will honor your commitment to success by seeing that you are safe and pushing you to preform better. FORM IS KING, no amount of reps or PRs are worth a bad neuromuscular pattern or placing our spine and joints in compromising positions. I want to see all of us throwing around weights well into our senior years (have you seen the amazing athletes who compete in the Masters division at the Crossfit Games as well as power lifting?). I do not want us sidelined years to come because in our head we were telling ourselves as we were lifting or our coach was encouraging us to just “GO GO GO” and “GET IT GET IT GET IT” at any cost.

Our coaches work hard to learn all of these details and truthfully there is always more to learn, but such is the case with any great science and art.

So no matter where on the weightlifting continuum you fall, keep up the good work

– Michelle Jackson


note: While my commentary of this lift is original, these points of performance are not my original ideas. I credit Daniel Camargo, Greg Everett, Mark Rippetoe, Dr. Kelly Starrett, Mike Young, Crossfit, USA Weightlifting, and fellow athletes as sources I have gained my understanding of technique from.

New Hope Summer Camp

Today I had the treat of hanging out with the kids at camp for the week through New Hope. 

We ran relays where we had to balance a hard boiled egg on a plastic spoon and any time it dropped the runner had to do 5 squats while their team counted them off. It was a blast! 

Then we talked for about 20 minutes about how much sugar is in a 20oz cherry coke — 70g and I showed them a bag of what 70g of sugar looks like. We all agreed that was an unreasonable amount to consume in a drink. 

The kids described what they thought good health meant, how many of them have heard of diabetes, how many of them knew someone with type II (almost every hand was raised), and what they thought it is in their own words. 

We talked about what they thought insulin is and what it’s roll in our body is. We talked about glucagon as well. 

We took a poll from of the kids who knew someone with diabetes how many were cured by taking medicine and how many have diabetes from eating too much fruit? The answer they told me was none. 

I was impressed by their willingness to engage in our conversation, share their thoughts with the group, and ask really meaningful pertinent questions. 

It’s hard to know sometimes how talks with kids are going to go. 

It was my pleasure to help out at camp and I will be back next Monday for the final week. If anyone would like to join please email me (Michelle) at Camp is about a 40 minute drive from Tulsa. 

Attached is a beautiful picture of the lake we did our relays right by. (For the privacy of the children involved we did not take any action pictures of participants from today.)

Thank you everyone for all of the volunteer projects you help to support through Valor. We cannot change the world but we can make a difference in it! 

-Michelle Jackson 

4th of July Holiday 

We want to wish everyone a very happy and safe 4th of July. 

Hours: we will have class on Monday morning July 4th at the normal 5 and 6am. 

We will NOT have class on Sunday July 3rd at 4:30pm or Monday July 4th at 5:30pm and 6:30pm. 

Eat some good food, enjoy some good company, please drink responsibly and do NOT drink and drive! 


CPR Classes and Fundraising!

CPR Classes


Early CPR is critical in successful resuscitation in cardiac arrest and gaining precious life saving minutes! CPR4U will be putting on multiple American Heart Association (AHA) classes in July and August to help raise funds Valor Strength and Fitness – a non-profit gym seeking to impact the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood’s fitness & health, through increased access to training, education and community.

We will cover Heart Saver, Basic Life Support, and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (refresher). The Heart Saver & First Aid; focuses on layman care of cardiac arrest, stroke recognition, & first aid for minor wounds. This is a one-day course that can be completed on either day.




LOCATION: 2245 E 6th St, Tulsa, OK


PRICE: All prices/cost will be donated directly to Valor SF. Cost does not include a book. If interested in a book please call for details. The book is not necessary, but can be helpful. If you are unable to afford the below cost simply email so that arrangements can be made, we want everyone who feel like that want or need the training to be able to get in on this class!

Heart Saver and First Aid: $25 per individual or $60 for three-person discount.

Basic Life Support: $40 per individual or $80 for three-person discount.

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (Refresher): $125 per individual or $300 for three-person discount.



Heart Saver/First Aid – July 12th or 13th

BLS – July 28th

ACLS – August 24th. See


REGISTRATION: Simply contact us at with your information! A FaceBook Event page is in the near future as well.

Hydration – Your Life Line

It seems that Summer has set her sweaty bosom upon us this week. Temperatures are predicted to reach into the 90s for the foreseeable future. With the heat comes the increased chance of heat related health concerns. At Valor we take everyone’s physical well being extremely seriously but your safety to us doesn’t start and stop at the gym door. We preach about personal responsibility when it comes to the workouts themselves but in these warm Summer months ahead, your personal responsibility needs to start hours or even days before showing up for a workout.

So how much water should you be consuming? Well…check your pee. You want your urine to be clear. Is your urine leaning toward the yellow end of the spectrum? Drink more water! Got a nice clear stream going? Maintain. Can’t remember the last time you urinated? DRINK MORE WATER!

We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable Summer, so please take a hard look at your pee and ask yourself “Should I be drinking more water?”  The answer is probably “Yes.

~Kenneth M. Ruggiano

New Stuff At The Gym

Sportsmith had their annual warehouse sale and the Valor team was there. 

Rewind to last year. Last summer we were operating from the trailer at Kendall-Whitter Park 3 days a week with a, more than now, limited budget. Last year at this sale event we went with $200 to spend and Sportsmith donated thousands of dollars worth of equipment to us. This donation allowed us to multiply our efforts and really set us up for success when just 2 short months later we moved into our building on 6th street. 

Memorial Day Murph 2015 at KW Park * we subbed log carries for pull-ups. 


So today it was a rewarding feeling, to this time, go to the sale and be able to spend some money on things we know we all want and need. 

We were able to do this because you all are great! We are a community committed to working together. You guys pay your monthly dues which keeps our operation moving forward. You guys work hard at taking care of the equipment and the things we do have so our budget is not eaten up replacing broken and lost items. Your donations, no matter how small, make a huge impact on our mission. Thank you for all of your efforts over this last year. 

A few things that will be most noticeable will be the 2 additional 15KG bars and 2 additional sets of 10lbs and 15lbs plates you’ll find in the gym, along with the other things.

Which brings us to this. Valor will now be selling 2 items — gymnastic grips and weightlifting wrist wraps. Gymnastic grips are in small, medium, large and will sell for $10. These usually sell for $20-$30 plus shipping depending on brand. The ones we will be selling are roughed leather on both sides and feature a left and right (this means one of the buckles will not sit by your thumb the way other brands such as Rogue do). We will also be selling cloth weightlifting wrist wraps for $10. These can range in price from $20-$45 plus shipping depending on uniqueness and manufacture. 


Our thought on this is two fold. We’d like to cheaply be able to meet an immediate need for our athletes as well as take the opportunity to do a little fund raising at the same time. 

If you are interested in purchasing one or both please talk directly with Michelle Jackson. Catch her at class, Facebook message her, email her with the below email or text her. You can pay valor via cash, check, or paypal at (make a note on your paypal transaction or envelop what it is for). 

Thanks again everyone and we all look forward to putting the new stuff to good use!