Earlier this year, I completely stepped out of my comfort zone and tried to learn a new skill. I have known these skills before but when I say before, I mean a lifetime ago.
One of my daughters is an elite gymnast and as I spend SO much time getting her to and from gym, I thought it would be a great idea to add a bit more time there and join the adult gymnastics class. A good friend had already been doing it for a while and I was intrigued.
A few problems presented themselves fairly quickly. Flexibility, upper body strength and ineptitude topped the list, with embarrassment following close behind. I really hadn’t thought the timing of these classes through enough, as there is a large glass window in the entrance that enables full viewing of gymnasts in action. This is perfect when one is viewing a child’s class but not ideal when all the parents that you know are flocking in to pick up their kids but instead discuss the finer points of adult gymnastics. I think it is probably a stretch to call what I am doing gymnastics but I am an adult.
We have done a lot of good solid laughing whilst coach David has put us through our paces and I can now hold a candle, do a few penguins, throw in a few forward rolls and do a passable handstand.
Which brings me to why we are having a conversation today. When I was a kid, handstands seemed fairly straightforward to me, lunge forward and fling those legs up as high as you can. But no, no, no.
David is a thorough coach and he is dedicated to getting us to prepare and perform handstands properly. Please note the keyword here – prepare. Up until now, I have been completely unaware that there is a sequence of events that leads to a successful handstand and a couple of months ago, one of our classes was dedicated just to this. Standing on your hands and moving them is hard graft in my book but I made it through the class without any major injuries. Or so I thought.
“You have to do the preparing before you do the doing”
The next morning my alarm went off as usual and I attempted to get out of bed. Nope. That particular move was not available to me. My neck had completely seized up. There was no need for rocket science here – clearly a whole hour of handstands after decades of no handstands can not end well. Needless to say, I spent a great deal of time over the next two weeks bonding with my physiotherapist.
What I learnt from the good old handstand
- You have to do the preparing before you do the doing – when learning a new skill of any kind, whether it be a new exercise routine, choosing and preparing healthy food, getting better sleep or managing stress – prepping up is super important. Do some planning – it really works.
- Do not make assumptions about your current skill level – even if the skill or behaviour you have decided to develop was one that you have previously known well, things may have changed – just saying. How will you brush up on those skills?
- Take bite-sized chunks – in hindsight it would have been best for me to do ten minutes of handstand work, not 60 minutes of hard core up in the air moves
- Be patient – consistency and persistency will get you everywhere
- Make getting from A to B simple – if you do the preparing before the doing, getting from A to B (whatever that may be) will save you time, money and energy. This might mean starting with three walks each week rather than aiming for every day morning and night or doing a food shop each week to ensure you have healthy food on hand rather than winging it and ending up ordering takeaway.
What are you preparing to do?