Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Handstands UP!

"Handstands up!" was a call that rang out on playgrounds (and in swimming pools) as a child. We'd do all kinds of leg variations like ballerina, banana splits and jellyfish. My handstand was decent, but I've never been able to stay up - not that I ever really tried. No need. Now I have a need; a desire.

On Saturday I saw a flyer at the yoga studio advertising a 'flying workshop' presented by another studio where level 1 focuses on handstands, shoulder stands and some yoga variations. My headstand is rocking, as is my l-shaped headstand but I want to progress to more difficult handstands. I'm unfortunately not around on the day of the workshop but seeing that a gymnastic coach was involved, it reminded me of a woman I 'met' a few years ago.

When I was still working at Let's Play (Supersport), Cindy McCall-Peat from the Eagles Tumbling Club in Benoni made contact. I sent a crew out there and they shot a really super insert for the show. I didn't meet Cindy in person, but I remembered then that she had invited me to come around to the gym saying that it was never too late to do gymnastics...

I dropped her a note and tonight I went to my first 'adult gymnastics class'. My specific objective is to learn how to handstand properly and tonight I learned so many tips on take off and alignment that my handstand is already plenty more stable and strong and is staying up longer. My coach tonight was Thato and he's a super teacher with a great way of explaining what and how to do.

We also did cartwheels. There's a cartwheel and there's a cartwheel. Of course I've been able to do a fairly decent cartwheel since I was a tot but tonight I learned new form and technique. I say 'we' but it was really just me and another girl. No other adults. She is probably about 14 and this is her second week. Her mom was a competitive gymnast and suggested she give it a go. This young lass wants to get fit and become more flexible.

On the drive home, I realised that there are a number of gymnastic moves that I'd like to learn like a handstand walkover and a flickflack, neither of which I can do. I guess they've kind of been on a 'bucket list' since I can remember. Coincidentally, I was chatting to my mom about a week ago about gymnastics and asking why it wasn't on our radar when I was a child. Participation in sports really stems from exposure to a discipline. We didn't have tumbling at school and I didn't know anyone who did it as an extramural activity; so, I didn't do it.

If you're a parent reading this, expose your children to as much as possible. Even consider letting them do a year of this and a year of that - different disciplines like dance, tumbling and orienteering, along with their mainstream school sport. It isn't about being expert or competitive at any of them but just that they have the exposure, they spend a sufficient time at it to know whether they like or not.

The interesting thing is that having now been at pole dancing for three years (and teaching for 2.5) and now with acroyoga and Ashtanga yoga... all really are very much gymnastic disciplines. Cindy was saying that they have some capoeira people through there to work on handstands and other balance moves and they've also had some parkour people come there too - again, these are both disciplines with gymnastic roots.

With all of my activities, I unfortunately can't commit to gymnastics even once a week; but I've diarised a couple of classes every few weeks to check in with Thato to correct my technique and form and to learn new stuff. For now, I've got lots of homework from tonight. My ultimate handstand objective is to be able to do a push up handstand where you stand, legs wide. Fold forwards, hands on ground and lift legs up - straight and wide, into a nice, tall handstand. How awesome will that be!

I've put some photos below to get you excited about handstands too ;)

1 comment:

Telana said...

Hey Lisa- I've never quite mastered the handstand,and definitely not the cartwheel, and have been working towards developing the strength for both for a while now... might get in touch to get Thato's details when I'm ready, to learn those techniques :) Nice to know that someone else also wants to perfect handstands!