A gymnast I am not (yet)

I don’t normally do Thursday WODs.  My three-a-week are usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with the odd Tuesday thrown in if I can’t make one of the others because of work.  Thursday is usually more gymnastics-based, and I have deliberately avoided a couple of them in previous weeks when I could have gone.  A look at the work involved beforehand put me off, mostly due to the fear of having to do handstands and all sorts of hanging things involving the overhead bars.

But for some reason, I decided on a whim that I was going to go to this week’s Thursday WOD, and miss Friday.  I looked at the WOD on Facebook and told myself that now was the time to stop being a pussy and go and try it.  Mind you, what exactly I’d be trying wasn’t too clear from this:

What?
Er, what?

It wasn’t as complex as it looks, although someone has gone a bit mad with the acronyms here.  Translation follows:

Part one was skipping.  I had brought my lovely new skipping rope along for today, as the ones provided by the box are in varying states of decay and are all different lengths.  Some are adjustable, but if you want to get good at double-unders you really need to practise with your own rope all the time.  So we had 10 minutes to skip, the idea being to get as many double-unders in a row as you could if you’re a skipping ninja, or try to get 100 singles if you’re crap at it, like me.

Ironically, having got myself a nice new piece of equipment, I found that I couldn’t even string together 20 bloody singles, despite having been able to do 40 or 50 in a row with one of the box’s ropes during an intense work-out a few weeks ago.  It wasn’t made any better by one the girls taking it from me and immediately performing 10 double-unders in a row.  At least I know it’s me, and not the rope!  She then made me feel better by telling me that it had taken her six months of practising every day to get that good.  Pffffff.

Stupid skipping.  Let’s do something else:  handstands.  I’ve never done a handstand in my life, and the usual procedure at this point should have been to make excuses and try to get out of doing it.  But this is the new me, so I backed up to the wall and walked my feet up it.  It felt very weird at first – the feeling you get is that you’re going to tip forwards into a heap on the floor.  Once I was vertical, I walked my hands back towards the wall until they were as close as I dared get, which wasn’t close enough according to the coach.  They were a good 12 inches away, but come on – this was my first ever handstand.  It was only once I’d been there for about 20 seconds that I thought about how I was going to get back down again.  I had an image of slowly un-straightening my arms, tucking my head in, and falling into a graceful forward roll.  I then decided that was a completely stupid idea, and opted instead for the “move your hands away from the wall and collapse into the gap behind you” method.  Well, it worked …

The coach suggested I try the kicking-up method to do the next one (the way you see most people doing it), but I didn’t feel confident in having enough strength to stop myself collapsing if I did that, so I’m sticking with the backward method for now.  Between each of the four handstands we did some 30-second hollow holds (lying on your back with legs and arms raised in front of and behind you, keeping the small of your back on the floor).  This is something I’ve done before, and can actually do properly although it plays murder with your abs.  *clenches*.  Yep, they hurt.

Right, that’s handstands sorted.  What’s next?  Four one-minute rounds each of ring dips, arch holds, handstand push-ups, and L-sit holds.  That’s what the level 3 people should be able to do, anyway.  I can only do the arch hold (the Superman, remember?), but the rest required scaling.  For the ring dips I did box dips.  I was wondering why these were a bit easy, until the coach pointed out the correct form to me, and then they bloody hurt.  “Two of those will do more for you than 20 of the way you were doing it before”.  I don’t disbelieve him – the fronts my shoulders ache nicely right now – I just did a dip on a kitchen chair to check.  He kept pointing out that my left arm sticks out more than it should, until I showed him where I broke it over 30 years ago, and that it refuses to go perfectly straight compared to my right!

Handstand push-ups are off the menu for now, so I substituted a version where my head and arms are almost in the same position as a full handstand, but my feet are up on a box behind me instead of against the wall.  You still have to push yourself up from the floor so it works the same muscles, and hurts every bit as it probably should.  As for the L-sit, you hang from the bar and hold your legs horizontal.  I can’t do that, so you could bring your knees up to your chest instead.  That was a hard enough hold for 30 seconds, but I managed OK.  I had to release and reset on a couple of occasions.  I could do with being a stone or so lighter – it really pulls down on your wrists.

After we’d done all that, there was just enough time for a quick five-minute AMRAP of hand-release push-ups and box jumps.  The coach suggested I do the box dips instead of the push-ups, which was fine as those push-ups are deceptively hard after a few.  I’ve stopped doing box jumps at 16 inches now.  I’d started at that height just to get used to it (and to get over the fear of smacking my shin against it, which I have yet to do I hasten to add).  I’ve now progressed to using the 20-inch side.  I quite enjoy box jumps now I have the confidence to do them properly.  I remember standing in front of a 20-inch box a few weeks ago and just freezing, assuming my leg would come into contact with the sharp edge at the top if I tried to jump onto it.  Utterly ridiculous.  Having got over the fear of box jumps and handstands, I suppose I’m ready to try anything.

I didn’t keep count of what I did today, like we were supposed to.  I think I was concentrating too much on what I was doing, as a lot of it was new to me.  I’m not really bothered if I got five box dips or ten; it was all worth it just for the handstands, which I think I will now practise as part of my pre-WOD warm-up, along with the bastard skipping.  What was it she said, every day for six months?

So, day one …

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