A few years back I regularly attended a gymnastics class. This wasn’t back when I was a kid, as is the case for 99% of gymnasts, but because I wanted to master gymnastic skills as an adult. I wanted to strength and skill that comes with it.
This fell away as I went to work on other training. But there is nothing quite like being in that class. Let me tell you why.
1. It’s a Dedicated Chunk of Time.
If you go to a class you’re going to be there for an hour and a half to two hours (at least that’s how long my classes run). That’s a lot of practice time. At it’s very much in contrast to the typical 15 minutes, maybe half hour, I’d likely spend on my own.
This has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that it’s a long time and the more you practice the better you’ll get. Of course it can be too long to the point where you get tired, run down, and then you can’t get any better at the skills at hand.
But if you go into class full of energy and know how to rotate from one skill to another you can minimize this effect.
2. The Equipment.
If you want to get good at something you need to have the proper tools to do so. A gymnastics facility has the following: trampoline, tumble-trak, spring floor, rings, bars, pommel horse, balance beams various mats and pads, a foam pit, and much more. Depending on your goals you may need different tools.
For example if you take some one of the street who wants to learn how to do a back flip you’re much better set if you have these tools. It is possible to teach someone to do it just standing with the proper instruction and spotting. Better to have all that and tools so you can learn the skill on a trampoline first, then off or raised mats with padding and finally on the ground.
This makes it more step-by-step and of course much safer. Safety, or rather the feeling of safety, is a big deal when you first attempt many acrobatic skills.
3. The Coaching.
If you practice be yourself, often times its hard to know what you’re really doing. A video camera can help you to SEE what you’re doing. But a coach can do that plus tell you what you need to do.
Even a half-way decent gymnastics coach is going to be able to help you get to skills much beyond what the average person would be able to do.
And as was mentioned before having a spotter the first time you try a move is very helpful.
Hand balancing skills can easily be worked at home. (Some equipment can be useful as well as coaching which is obvious.) But for acrobatic skills at least getting your start in the proper facility can be a huge help. It can be the difference between mediocre skills and really going far.
For that reason I’m going back. I’ll have the story of my first day back for you tomorrow.
Good Luck and Good Gymnastics,
P.S. For moves you can do at home and at the gymnast facility be sure to check out Tumbling Illustrated.
Been going through a similar thought process myself. If begun putting in more time to Gymnastic/hand-balancing goals. I’ve started putting more time into handstand push-ups to get back to ding them at the depths I had once gotten to (between two chairs) & working towards doing them away from the wall (ain’t been there yet). Also working on doing a Front lever/pull-up combo (currently doing them with legs tucked) & working towards a Planche/push-up combo (still working on getting my legs extended out from a frog stand).
@Dennis: Sounds like you got a good program going. Those moves alone will make you strong.
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Great post Well done for going to a gymnastics class I also go to one. I’m also an adult and I’d like to learn to do a good handstand and a back somersault. How many times a week do you think you need to go to progress?
@Mike: I think you can make progress going once a week but it’ll be very slow. I’d say a better minimum is twice per week. More than that would be better. The problem is that adult gymnastics classes aren’t as readily available so you have to make with what you can do. I’ll be going twice per week as that is all they offer.
Forgot to mention, that there is a gymnastics/cheer-leading gym across the street from me, but due to my hours (I’m military & lately work a lot of late hours), haven’t walked across the street to talk to them. I hope to do so when things level out at work.
Absolutely agree about the need for proper coaching. I work as a physical therapist and have seen a fair amount of injuries, often related to improper training, either by working out by themselves, or with poor instructors.
Hi, I have been practicing handbalancing for a while now and looking at improving my skills.
I just cant seem to grasp the technique of a pike press to handstand.. I can lean forward and bend my arms a little and then bring my legs up to handstand in the piked position, but it feels like im muscling it up way to much. Any ideas on how to develop this skill to a much more fluent motion???
@Corey: I’m working on the press handstands myself. I should have an article some time in the near future. But for now have you tried doing it off a raised platform (i.e. your feet start up higher than your hands)?
Haha nice story. This actually came at a funny time. I actually was in a gymnastics school 7 years back.
I wanted to learn how to fall for stunts and flip. It took me a while,but soon I got some skills going. After
3 months however things hit pretty hard. Life that is. Everyone split and I felt lost. No one was doing this with
me anymore and so I kind of followed on to the whole job career world. Since then I have not been happy. This
was all going on when I was 17, I am now 24 and a few months ago I am starting to see A LOT of progress
in the free running and parkour scene. When I started to see this i just knew it was my calling. Now I am
back into training. I went to gymnastics class last tuesday for the first time in 7 years. I did pay a price
getting a bit sore and getting back to learning but now I have managed to keep the skills I had and am learning more.
Tomorrow I am off to a jam session for Parkour tomorrow. I am so grateful and happy to be fighting for goal that I
once had a long time ago and is back! this time I may be going at it alone, but will be meeting many new faces on the
road. Talk to you soon!
@Joshua: Glad to hear it Joshua. Keep me updated on how your training comes along.