In April of 2013 (shortly after turning 31) I began a 4 month journey where I trained to learn a series of moves, many of which share a common origin in gymnastics. The purpose of this “project” was to prove to myself that despite entering my 30s I could still advance on a physical and athletic level. The added bonus was that I got stronger and actually started moving better. The whole process caused me to learn a lot, with the most important lesson being that I still have a lot to learn.
Now it’s time to pick up where I left off. As of November 1st I’ve begun another phase of the Pursuit of Movement. This time the spectrum of movement is broadened. Some moves are different, some are harder, and some are building off from what I learned in Phase 1. And of course, I haven’t forgotten about the previous goals I hadn’t met. Those are extra homework.
So without further ado, here are the 6 movements for Phase 2 of The Pursuit of Movement:
1. Straddle press handstand
This is a graceful looking movement that gymnasts and yogis make look super easy… except it’s not, I promise. It involves 2 static holds – the straddle and the handstand – with an incredibly controlled and tricky transition. Wrists and shoulders love this one.
GOAL: 1 rep of straddle to handstand back to straddle.Footage by Ido Portal
START: A somewhat shaky 7 second straddle hold.
- Straddle holds (static)
- Pike & straddle entries into HS
2. Front lever
Imagine keeping the entire front side of your body tense as all hell (as if you were being tased) and you’ll have an idea what doing this move feels like. It really should be renamed into something more intimidating like “The Core Crusher” or “Abdominal Armageddon”.
I started experimenting with this move towards month 3 of Phase 1 as a way to improve my L sit. Believe it or not it’s actually kind of fun to practice. Now with a bit more research and experience I’ve learned to incorporate a few more relevant muscles into doing this move. Still hurts though.
GOAL: 7 second hold with good formImage by Ido Portal
START: 10 second straddle hold or a few seconds with a shitty piked form
- Straddle front levers
- L sits ALL DAY
3. Back lever
Looks very similar to the Front Lever but a completely different experience. This is a move that I also messed around with during Phase 1 but I’m just now starting to get the nuance of. Finally zeroing in on muscles I’ve been neglecting. Hello buttocks and hamstrings!
GOAL: 7 second hold with good formImage by Arthlete
START: 7 seconds straddle back lever in bad form
- Straddle back levers
4. One armed chin-up (OAC)
I have a lot of unfinished business with this one. A move from the Phase 1 agenda, this turned out to be more than I could handle and ended as an “incomplete”. BUT, I have been training the OAC a bit smarter now and am making better gains than I did when starting out. I think this could quite possibly be within my reach by the end of these 4 months.
GOAL: 1 unassisted!Footage by Ido Portal
START: 1 (each arm) with support on bicep.
- 1 arm negative hang
- OAC with bicep support (working up to shoulder support)
5. Butterfly twist (B-twist)
How silly would this “movement” project be if all I did was stuff that was stationary and/or incredibly exerting? Time for a bit of fun.
The butterfly twist is a move I was in the process of learning a few years ago before leaving for Korea. I never fully got it, and years of neglect brought me back to square 0. Now with access to a gymnastics facility (can I get a FUCK YEA for soft mats?) I’m wholeheartedly pursuing this move again, this time with a fierce attitude. That’s right. Fierce.
GOAL: land 1 on grass.Footage by JayR deGuzman
START: um.. I’m not sure where I’m at but it looks kinda funny.
- Butterfly kick
- Plyometric 1 leg push-offs
6. Round off –> Back handspring –> Back tuck
In the spirit of learning cool moves I’m going to go full gymnast and seek out my first tumbling pass. Round off –> back handspring –> back tuck is the most basic tumbling routine that every cheerleader and gymnast can do.
This will be tricky cause I’ve done each of these 3 moves individually at different times in my life. The round-off will be the easiest to relearn. The back handspring recently came to me in a flash of genius at my first visit to the gymnastics center (landed it on floor), but since that time I’ve fully reignited the “startle effect” and have developed TERRIBLE form again. And to be honest I’ve never landed a back tuck on land; only into pools and foam pits. Yes, I have a lot of work to do…
GOAL: do 1 tumbling pass on grassFootage by Coach Meggin
START: well, here’s what my back handspring (BHS) looked like when I could actually do one.
- BHS with foam support
- BHS on mat
- Back tuck drills on trampoline
Muscle ups on rings
I’ve finally made the wise investment of getting some gymnastics rings. Now I’m setting out to build that killer upper body musculature that those Olympian gymnasts have. Bulging biceps and shoulder striations will soon be mine!
GOAL: 8 reps
I haven’t forgotten about this bad boy. Practicing them now on a more constant basis and on different platforms (floor, bars, and now rings).
GOAL: still working towards that original goal of 30 seconds.
I feel like I cheated to get my goal of a 3 second straddle during Phase 1. I’ll even go out and say that I technically didn’t meet this goal. This time I’m going to learn it proper.
GOAL: 7 second straddle
Well, there you have it. Now you know how I’m spending my winter. If you have any comments, insight or tips please by all means share! Otherwise, wish me luck. I hope it doesn’t get too cold here.