Everyone needs to reflect.
In fact, those who don’t reflect, normally end up making the same mistakes, time and time again. Is the definition of insanity doing the same thing time and time again, but expecting a different outcome. Human beings need to learn, move, and improve.
I come from a dysfunctional family. My neurotic dutch mother was never able to overcome the psychological and physical damage that came with being a dutch girl in Nazi occupied Holland, my father , I discovered later in life, suffered from a mania that meant his mood could swing from euphoria to the deepest blackest depression.
Tragically, my brother inherited this “mania” and killed himself.
If it taught me one thing, its that you don’t have to be a victim of your upbringing. At any age you can decide what you want to do. You have to make some tough decisions, you may have to give stuff up, you may have to go without.
Worse stuff happened in Occupied Europe.
But it wasn’t all bad, My father was gifted clergyman, and from an early age I was given a unique perspective on the role that religion has in peoples lives, how it helps, damns, cures condemns and how thought processes can be manipulated and twisted to suit the intentions of an individual as a group.
I was taught to aspire and study. I was also taught how to smoke. It seemed to be the family trait. Other families have coat of arms. I got a pack of fags and a hatred of physical activity.
But to make a long story short, when I reached 37 I gave up what had escalated to a 100 day cigarette habit, stopped drinking so much, changed my life, became active, did martial arts, boxed, thai boxed ( and competed) did some body guarding, and ended up as a (part time) bouncer and brawled most weekend: I also qualified as a fitness instructor and became a surprisingly good swimming teacher at the age of 40 ( which amused many people as I was a non swimmer when I was 39) all whilst running a sort of respectable estate agency, book shop and a variety of community based organisations.
I think one thing that I had missed out on was a forgotten desire to do gymnastics. Now and then Id sign up for a gymnastic session, and every time be sold a low quality kinder garden version of the sport. I think this gymnastic desire is partially what led me to Crossfit. Anyway once I got my certification in Crossfit in 2005, it was heads down to spread the word in the UK and set up Crossfit London UK. In the early days we held skill masterclasses which developed into the i-course. This meant the few people scattered around the country who wanted to do Crossfit could come together and get some UK tuition.
What I brought To the Crossfit arena was the swimming teachers love for drills. Teaching football is easy. Get some kids, let them mill about a bit with a ball, Voila you have a game of football.
Take some kids, throw them in a pool, and voila you have a coroners inquest!
Swimming is, properly, taught through drills, Confidence building drills, getting in and out of a poll drills , floatation drills, the 1st kick drills. Swimming is based on the ability of the teacher to break things into manageable chunk, “put your foot here” “swivel there” “lower there”
According to other people I also bought humour, charm and an insane array of mad coaching cues to the sport: I also bought an annoying amount of ability to the UK fitness market. When Crossfit was initially reviewed by the Uk’s self proclaimed “fitness gurus” they confidently stated that no one could combine Olympic weightlifting, muscle ups, thrusters, kettlebells handstands etc in the way that Crossfit suggested. The implication being that only elite people could do this.
Well, at the age of 47, I could stand in front of an audience of young fit men and teach them how to olympic lift, kettlebell, muscle up, kip etc. Skills that Crossfit had taught me within a year. Crossfit had given me a skill set that I could only have dreamed of, and it has been my delight to pass these skills on, through drills, and to help develop a team of trainers who can deliver these skills to really high standards.
So I think I’ve made my big contribution: a focus on teaching method and an insistence that teaching at crossfit London is drill based. We now have a fantastic teaching team.
I need to chase my dream : to be a gymnast and to see what real gymnastic expertise we can incorporate into Crossfit London regime.
What I believe at this stage
Some of our leading athletes will benefit from an accessible gymnastic programme that could be embedded in our classes along with our focus on Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting.
That there is a current disastrous trend today towards “bodyweight strength”. I have wasted much of my limited gymnastics training with the idea that body weight strength was the key, and that all I had to do was simply chase few key stunts. I now strongly believe that chasing body weight strength ( either strict or kipping muscle ups and levers) is wrong. We need to learn gymnastics, not body weight strength. Many of the tough guys who display muscle up strength cannot swing on the parallel bars, don’t have an upstart, cannot flick, somersault or round off. Dangerously I’m going to state that if you cannot swing to a handstand on a bar, you don’t have any real body control. Sliding up and down against a wall isn’t a handstand push up!
I believe crossfit can be a spectacular gateway to superhuman performance. We have an armoury of skills that we can easily teach and strengthen. I’m hoping that a year or so in, those who get the basic skills will see that, unless they can do free standing handstand, do a back flick, they really haven’t advanced much beyond a basic physical literacy.
When I was 47 it was a simple challenge: if I can do this, so can you. Now, at the age of 53, my challenge is to learn gymnastics so i can once again, stand in front of an audience and go, This is what i can do. What have you got!
Well, that the back ground anyway
You can email me at Andrew@crossfitlondonuk.com.
Im basically a london personal trainer, based in Bethnal Green E2