I wish my parents had let me do gymnastics when I was young. My cousin did gymnastics, and I kind of think that’s part of the reason my parents objected. As I recall, my cousin suffered some injuries in the course of her sport, not an uncommon occurrence, and I think that scared my mom especially. The excuse I was given verbally was that the nearest gymnasium was too far for my mom to drive me. But somehow she was able to drive me a good half hour away to sing in a children’s choir, so I don’t know that I totally buy that excuse.
I did an informal tumbling class in college. Nothing fancy, just once a week, led by one of the tutors. We always warmed up to Prince, “When Doves Cry.” I got close to being able to do an aerial, but I never did anything more impressive than a one handed cartwheel. And I did some rolling and tumbling in the course of doing Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do.
I tried to attend an adult tumbling class when I first moved to Boise, but it was not a good atmosphere. They told me I couldn’t use certain trampolines or other equipment because I was too old, but I interpreted that as I was too heavy and out of shape. They didn’t do much to change my interpretation and I never went back after the first class.
And a little over five years ago, I started CrossFit, which, to me, has become kind of like a backdoor to learning gymnastics as an adult. I spent a year building the strength for a strict pull-up. I figured out I could do a kipping handstand push-up. And, for a while now, I’ve been working on getting a freestanding handstand. Not intensively, because my primary focus is still the Spartan Race in June. But I’ve added little gymnastics things into my accessory workouts. I’ve been following Kari Pierce on Instagram, and I try some of the ab workouts that she posts, to mixed success.
I’ve also been practicing headstands. Quite a few years ago, there was a women’s only gymnastics class at my CrossFit box, and we learned a tuck press to headstand, which I could just barely do. I couldn’t really stay balanced at the top, but I could lift my legs up. So lately I’ve been going back to that tuck to headstand and trying to find my balance there, hoping headstand balance will translate to handstand balance.
I ended up seeing someone’s Instagram story where they did a pike press to headstand – several in a row, actually. And I don’t remember who it was and I can’t look it up since stories disappear. But whoever it was, they gave me the idea to try it. The first time I tried, I couldn’t make the lift, so I decided to practice negatives, since I knew I could tuck press up.
But when I tried it for the second time, it worked. My legs lifted and I was so excited I bugged one of my friends to take a video: