I’m Like Shannon Miller….Only Awful….

Sometimes looking at my list of “Things I Want To Be Good At” can be overwhelming. I want to be faster, I want to be stronger, I want better endurance, I want to be better at olympic lifting and I want to be competent in gymnastics. I love pull ups and muscle ups. I don’t have issues there, however, hand stands and handstand walks give me fits. I have good days and bad days, but I want to get to where I can expect to always have good days. I also want to master the levers (ahhhh!) and other “gymnastic-y” things.

Dynamo Gymnastics in Oklahoma City recently started an adult gymnastics class. They brought a couple of us in a few weeks ago to see where our skill level was and what we wanted to learn. I represented the super beginner crowd. A little background on my gymanstics….I took gymnastics as a little girl like almost every little girl does. I could walk across the beam, do cartwheels, and other very basic things. I quit when I was probably 8 or 9 because of other sports, but I was never ever good. I was always very aware of the fact that I could hurt myself. Back walkovers and handsprings never happened without a spotter. I did enjoy running and jumping into the foam pit. I was very good at that. I was not allowed to jump on a trampoline growing up (my dad is a physician and always told us about the injuries he saw so it was a no go for us outside of gymnastics class)….although I did disobey and sneak it in a few times. Shhhhhh. Don’t tell. To this day, I feel awkward jumping on a trampoline and have no body awareness at all.

Like most people, the first time I kicked up on the wall to try a handstand at a CrossFit gym I screamed like a little girl. My husband had to grab my feet and hold them so I wouldn’t freak out. I have come a very long way!

So, what can you expect in an adult gymnastics class?

We start by running a few laps around the mat. It is so springy. I feel like I am prancing which I love. They stretch us out, which is great because my flexibility is another issue and I’m hoping it gets better while going through this class. Next, we go through mat drills. These usually consist of forward rolls, backward rolls, handstand walks, handstand into forward roll then pike into a handstand (very difficult!), backward rolls into a handstand and rounds offs. The “more advanced” crowd will do round offs into back hand springs. I stick with rounds offs.

Last night we went through drills to progress into a front tuck. We worked on rebounding off the floor, we did punch outs (I think…still learning terminology) into a semi front tuck on the cheese wedge mat and we practiced running and jumping off the spring-board. Well, that is as far as I took it. The “others” actually did front tucks off the spring boards. Very impressive! Maybe someday soon….

Next, we moved to the tumble track. Sounds fun, right? It is a long trampoline with a huge mat at the end. This is where gymnasts learn and perfect their tumbling passes before moving to the floor. I did tuck jumps down that mat and finished with a front tuck onto the mat. At first, I was jumping three or four times and the end before I could make myself flip. It took me a long time to build up my confidence.  After a few trips I could go right into the front tuck. I’m overcoming some big time fears! I hate to admit how terrified all of this makes me, but it feels so good to master something even if it is very elementary for the sport.

Last we went to beam. I’m really glad I don’t have video of myself on the beam from our first day. Today was much better. I actually did a cart-wheel into a handstand on the low beam (about six inches off the ground) and held it for two seconds! Yes, this is amazing progress for me! I’m becoming so much more confident! I made it about a third of the way across the blue mat last night with my handstand walk. They tweaked just a few things with my body positioning and I can feel such a difference. I can actually balance and hold a pretty handstand for a while.

No, I don’t expect to learn routines or become an expert. I want to gain core strength and body awareness. I can see that I will get there. It is going to take time and repetition. My goal within the next month or two is to be able to handstand walk across the entire floor mat! I can do it. The guys are working on tumbling, handstand and ring work. I hope to get some ring work in as well the next few weeks!

If anyone is interested, let me know and I can get you information. This class is for anyone. They offer it on Monday and Wednesday evening from 8PM to 9PM. You can go once or twice a week. I’m starting with once a week. You can pick and choose what you want to work on and they are very helpful and patient. Thank goodness because I’m definitely a handful!



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