Coaches Corner by:
Mark has been a part of the family at CrossFit Amsterdam for many years now and is our resident Gymnastics, mobility and body tricks expert. What he lacks in size he makes up in skill and perfect movement. He is always jumping in classes and working out with the community.
Maybe the least appreciated part of CrossFit: "Gymnastics"
Probably for it’s long learning curve, tough to master techniques and the fact that it doesn’t look very sexy. That does not mean though that you won’t work on your fitness while practicing gymnastics. On the contrary; gymnastics can be very valuable for your fitness level and actually your whole CrossFit career.
First of all starting to learn the basic movements of gymnastics (push-ups, pull-ups, hollow body etc.) will give you basic sense of body awareness. This will eventually, when learned correctly, pay off with all the more difficult movements in CrossFit. Having a sense of body awareness and control is what you need to get started and especially to keep on moving with good form during those intense workouts.
Second doing gymnastics movements will typically focus on going through the full range of motion about a joint. This is a fancy way of saying that we want to do our push-ups chest-to-ground and locked out arms in the top. Or that our pull-ups are from a full hang to a chin -over-the-bar. This will make you stronger than someone doing their movements only half R.O.M. But also it will give you a much healthier body. Training your joints to make as big of a movement as possible, while being able to control this movement, will make your joints function in a healthy way. In other words: less chance of injuries.
Appreciate the proces
Progress in Gymnastics is slow and hard to measure. There’s no kg’s on a barbell. You might be able to do more reps in a certain movement but this kind of progress does not apply for all gymnastic-skills. Sometimes (a lot of times) you will have to rely on putting the practice in. And sticking with this practice consistently. That’s hard. I’ve been there. Setting a goal to finally get better at those damn Bar Muscle-ups. Being excited about the journey ahead. And then due to one busy day where I missed my practice I got sidetracked and lost it. But progress is going to be there. Not necessarily linear. There will be days where you do worse or better than expected. All you can do is appreciate the process and don’t be to hard on yourself.
So is gymnastics the best choice for every CF athlete out there? THE way to get better? That might be a bit too much. But it certainly helps. A lot! So get out there and start with practicting. Push-ups, Pull-ups, Kipping movements, Handstands, Iron Crosses. Twice a week for 15 min can make a big difference already. Just practice, have some fun, celebrate your wins, take your losses. Isn’t that what CrossFit is all about?