6 things I learnt from starting gymnastics as an adult

Enter Adult Gymnastics Training. Even if your goal is not to become top level gymnast, Gymnastic Strength Training is a system which can improve the quality of your life, make you feel strong, more flexible, restore your mobility and have you feel young again. In the next few lines I will share my experience so far and what I learnt during the last year and a half.

 

It is possible to become healthier, more mobile and stronger as you age.

The most common belief is that as we age it is natural to become less flexible, less mobile and less strong. This myth has been around for decades and its entertainers have been the people who have stopped moving, stretching or maintaining their strength. As it often happens, it turns into fulfilling prophecy for the same individuals. However, the bad news is that most of us have bought into this idea and take this as the natural way life goes.

Here is a wake-up call. These are false claims. Although there is natural rhythm of our body, there are multiple examples that it is up to us how we age. We can either do it with grace or in pain. Two years ago I chose the former. I took this decision easily when I stumbled upon Coach Christopher Sommer and his work through GymnasticBodies. For all of you who are not familiar with Coach Sommer or his brand, he used to be long time junior Olympic gymnastics coach for the US national team. Once he retired from professional coaching, he founded GymnasticBodies and started promoting adult gymnastics for longevity using his vast knowledge and creating program with progressions, where everyone can regain his/her mobility, and build his strength from zero to amazing.

I started my adult gymnastics journey year and a half ago (age 31) coming from background of lifting weights for a few years. My first “a-ha” moment was finding about the many mobility deficits which I had, although being active and training for most of my life.

Mobility is king – without it there is not proper movement thus it’s not possible to optimizing for performance.

What caught my attention when I first listened to coach Sommer is that he puts mobility on top of his list, prior to strength or any other component of training. Regaining our natural ranges of motion is the most important thing when we talk about longevity and performing at our best. Working with many people I have noticed they have great strength, but they are not able to use it because of mobility deficits. When we look at kids gymnasts we are amazed by the easy with which they perform hard skills and routines, although they don’t seem to have any muscles at all. The key is that they actually don’t have the restrictions and can tap into they natural strength.

What I did in the very beginning was to spend the first 6-7 month addressing my own joint issues. I started stretching and exploring different movements on the floor in my living room every night before I went to bed. I always went for 20-30 minutes to build the habit of it, and hour and a half later I would still find myself moving and having to stop myself to get some sleep. It became addictive because of my natural curiosity to find out new way of movement and seeing improvement in how my joints move.

In order to go fast later, you need to slow down first

Approaching this totally new type of training the right way was what made my progress faster later on. It has been a few months into mobility work and I found out about GymnasticBodies seminar which was happening in Awaken Gymnastic Bodies Master Affiliate in Denver right at the time I was going to be in the US. Some would call in luck, I believe that what you believe, you achieve. So here I was at the seminar where Coach Sommer and the rest of the community introduced us to what adult gymnastics training is all about. They gave us tips, tools and understanding how to structure our workouts and train with progressions and always strive for mastery. The months after the seminar I was able to do a quantum leap in my training because I already had the prerequisites needed, and combined with the great details given at the seminar it all came together.

In a matter of a few months I was able to get my Handstand

Straddle press to Handstand

#handstand365 day 21 Play is not just essential for kids; it can be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well. Adult play is a time to forget about work and commitments, and to be social in an unstructured, creative way. Focus your play on the actual experience, not on accomplishing any goal. There doesn’t need to be any point to the activity beyond having fun and enjoying yourself. #gymnasticbodies #christophersommer #awakengymnastics #gst#handstand #handbalance #wehandstand #handstandshoutouts #play #bodyweighttraining #calisthenics #nature #progress #fitness #train #family #health #gbathlete #motivitygst @gymnasticbodies @awakengymnastics @physicalitygst @forma.gst @travelinghandstands

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Pike press to Handstand

Both middle and front split, which I haven’t been able to do for 17 years since I was training karate back in the days

Taking your time and allowing your body to adapt to the new stimulus is a stepping stone for being able to progress faster toward any of the skills you want to attain.

Paying attention to detail is the key to progress

A couple of months before the seminar in Denver I started kicking into a handstand daily. There was no structure, no understanding of the different components needed to hold a solid handstand. You could say there was no attention to detail. During this time there wasn’t much progress, or at least I had no indicator of such. Fast forward a couple of months after the seminar, I already had the queues and all the details in my toolbox. Now I started paying attention while going through the different progressions, and voila there it was – the handstand. In conversations with many people they share their handstand journey which they have been on for a couple or more years, but still don’t own a good handstand. This is where all these small details come into play.

Volume is important, but quality is more important

In order for the body to adapt we need to build some volume and go over a certain threshold. However, when we first start it is better to do less volume and focus on quality, because unless we build a solid foundation our progress will eventually stall. It will be frustrating, and we might lose motivation to continue, and what usually happens blame it on the program or the exercise. It is also important to always use form with your full range of motion as this will help solidify the strength once you start working with higher volume.

Being humble – the advantage of listening instead of showing what you can

Recently I listened to Robb Wolf’s podcast episode with Ashleigh Gass – Owner of the Gymnastic Bodies Affiliate in Florida (it’s worth hearing this one) where Robb had the exact metaphor for people who first start with Gymnastic Strength Training, quote “At first you start all cocky and then you smash yourself like a bug against a windshield”. There are multiple examples of people who have been practicing strength training for years and the moment they try gymnastics they are all humbled. I turned out to be part of that statistic as well. Before I was introduced to GymnasticBodies I had a history of playing different sports, lifting weights and being overall active person. It turned out that gymnastic training was a whole different story.

Embarking on the Gymnastic Strength Training journey requires you to be humble and teaches you patience. It is long, but rewarding road, where you need to put your prior experience and ego aside.

If I got your attention, contact us for more information and training with our team.

Radoslav Rangelov