As some of you know, Im always playing with gymnastics. Im doing this as part of my on-going “remember what its like to be a beginner”, because as a gymnast, I suck big time.
But equally, Im a crossfitter.
As a crossfitter, I’m led by the 100 words. These words, written by the only fitness genius of our times are not, unfortunately what happens in most crossfit gyms.
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, push-ups, sit-ups. Bike, run, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. “
What wrong with that you may ask?
It seems to be the pool from which Games WODs are drawn: I suppose we kettlebell, do “pull throughs” and bench, but thats not too bad. Is it?
I’ve been nasty. Ive amended the above 100 words to reflect what most people want Crossfit to be: Below is the often ignored true 100 words .
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.
So here is the Crossfit message: Whatever effort you put into your snatch, you must put into your flip. The deadlift must be trained as much as your pirouette.
I know its very common and attractive to proclaim that the “snatch is king”, or the secret is “Deadlifting” or simply having a big back squat will get you through. These are important moves and its fantastic that we both train and practise them as the 100 words always told us to do. My apologies if anyone thought “Outlaw” had produced a novel training approach. They simply read Greg Glassman.
Long term we need more gymnastics in our classes. This is part of my long term mission: learn it, learn how to teach it, teach it, then teach others how to teach it. This formula has worked so far.
The problem with Gymnastics is that its easy to mistake hot air, hanging around in gyms, feeling sorry for yourself and cruising the internet, as practice. Many people give up on gymnastics as the skills seem too hard. The reality is that most people only spend about 2 to 3 minutes on a skill before throwing in the gym towel.
We need to deal with this crushing blow to the ego, before we push more gymnastics onto our poor crossfitters.
A gymnastics lesson doesn’t focus on one skill: it focuses on many skills, or certainly the foundational skills that underpin most obvious gymnastic skills.
To be very specific, most clients will attempt 5 (4 -8) handstands in most sessions. Maybe each attempt takes 10 seconds ( Oh, who cares… call it 20 seconds) Even being generous that amounts to less than 2 minutes practice of handstand skill. Of course the dish work is a handstand prep drill, blah, blah, but the hanging around before class starts, moaning about how band your handtand is, loosing yourself in internet articles about handstand mechanics, is not practicing. If you went to one gymnastic class this week, you practised the handstand for maybe 2 minutres ( you also, rolled and jumped etc, but at 2 minutes a time: it takes a while)
So I thought Id invent the Stemler Grid for those times I get demotivated.
I cannot judge my current improvement in the numerous teeny improvements I always make: I unfairly judge, can I now “back tuck” can I now “front flip”. If i cannot do the whole thing now, I declare the lesson a failure (the medical term for this is “being a tosser”).
So, if Im going to judge myself so unreasonably, I ought to record what practice I actually do .
So, if you do the same, draw up a Stemler grid: Make each square 30 seconds and record the amount of time (each week /day/month) you actually do the skill.
If its handstand, are you on your hands? Thats the amount of time you record. When your feet get back on the floor, the clock stops.
Thats what you record.
The lectures, the feedback, the diagrams, the group observation, the videoing, the self pity, the “whatever”, at this basic level, doesn’t count. Of course this is an extreme view, because in reality … it all helps. Even self pity (believe me I know!).
Sure its skewed , you still have to get to the gym, and that takes time. But before you give up on skills that are supercool, and properly demonstrate that you have control of your body because ” I cannot do it”, do make sure you have spent enough time on that skill to judge. Why not shoot for 30 minutes?