Part III of V: Gymnastics
To quote one of my guilty pleasure movies, “It’s not called gym-nice-tics”…(Stick It 2006.
I promise I won’t tell anyone if you see this movie.) Perhaps there was a time when you
took “gymnastics” as a kid, which mostly involved doing somersaults, walking across the
balance beam to cannonball off the end, hanging from a bar doing “skin the cats” (only
to find out later that you would be doing them again in your adult life and learning that
the move is in fact called “skin the cat”) and running around spinning in circles sporting
a velvet leotard with sequins all over it that eventually you pick off in your moms car
when she comes to pick you up. Disregard the last statement if you did not have the
pleasure of wearing a “leo” or disregard the whole thing if you had a legit gymnastics
background. Whatever your background may be with gymnastics, it is back in full-
fledged force through CrossFit.
Everything from pull-ups, dips, toes to bar, handstand variations, rope climbs, L-sits,
and muscle ups will eventually come up in WODs and/or skill work. But when are we
supposed to master these?! Let’s take it back a notch…
Not everyone has a gymnastics background, let alone body awareness. And CrossFit is
not the only activity implementing some form of gymnastics into its repertoire. We see
body awareness and control in things like yoga, rock climbing, dance, etc. Strength and
flexibility come about through training, while coordination, balance, agility and accuracy
come about through practice. And lots of it. It seems overwhelming, but the best time to
start is NOW! We know the basics: Pull-ups, push-ups, dips, and rope climbs. The
beauty of these basic upper-body strength movements is that most of them can be done
in the convenience of your living room. Begin by setting benchmark numbers for
yourself. Example: “I can absolutely do 10 perfect push-ups.” Goal: 15 perfect push-ups.
Working up or down in a ladder or pyramid format is highly effective as well! Example: “I
can absolutely do 5 strict pull-ups in a row.” Goal: 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1. Once these
specific basic movements become manageable, it’s time to start working on more
complex skills…like strict stationary dips, to strict ring dips, to muscle ups for example!
Understand that all gymnastics movements have progressions, no matter how simple or
complicated they may be. And there is no right or wrong way! Just keep in mind that
every skill involves different progressions, and not everything is going to come together
at once, and it’s probably a blessing it doesn’t otherwise your CrossFit career would be
over in 4 seconds and you’d be on to the next big thing. Never underestimate the power
of practice. Step 1: Choose a specific gymnastics movement that you want to work
on/improve on/master. Step 2: Tell a coach your goal and ask for specific progressions.
Step 3: Frequently sprinkle in progression practice before or after work outs. Step 4: DO
NOT GIVE UP. It’s going to be frustrating, and not everyday are you going to see
progress…”Much of the rudiments of gymnastics come only with great effort and
frustration – that’s O.K. The return is unprecented and the most frustrating elements are
most beneficial.”-Greg Glassman