A few Saturdays ago (Edit: It was actually in November, but it took me a while to publish this.) I was lucky enough to attend a gymnastics seminar by Coach Carl Paoli of Naka Athletics that was hosted by Crossfit Santa Clara. A gymnastics seminar doesn’t initially sound like something I’d be interested in, but it came highly recommended as a means of improving a lot of my Crossfit movements by learning some drills and proper techniques. It turns out it was a great idea to attend, and the four hour seminar was worth every minute.
The seminar began with a brief “lecture.” I use the term lecture loosely because it was interactive and gave good insights into how gymnastics can benefit crossfitters, and how Crossfit can benefit gymnasts. Crossfit and gymnastics can have a mutually beneficial relationship that provides athletes with a means to improve their performance across a wide spectrum of movements. The three movements that we spent the most time on were handstand push ups, pistol squats, and muscle ups, BUT throughout all of our drills Coach Carl constantly pointed out reference points that would apply to other movements.
I was really excited to work on these three movements, since I had recently become comfortable with handstand push ups, and still have work to do on my pistols and muscle ups. Little did I know that we were going to basically turn the handstand push up that I had learned on its head, and basically start from scratch. For those of you that subscribe to the Crossfit Journal, you can watch a video of exactly what I am talking about here.
Probably the most surprising thing for me in the seminar was that I was able to do pistol squats by the end of the session. It’s amazing how much the proper coaching cues can pull out of someone. Treating the pistol squat more like a heavy squat and less like a circus balancing act really helped my ability to execute. I came away with lots of good daily drills to work on in my own time as well.
The last main section of the seminar focused on the muscle ups, more specifically bar muscle ups. I haven’t been able to perfect a ring muscle up yet, but again, I learned a lot of cues on the bar to work on in order to get it. On advanced movements like these, it can be hard to get all of your body parts doing what they are supposed to do. Simply watching videos of muscle ups can only go so far, but good coaching can save you weeks of inefficient failures and get you results quicker.
As one final treat, Coach Carl began breaking down how to do a back flip, aka a back tuck to us. A pretty intimidating move for those who have never tried something like that, but when broken down into individual parts, it seems a lot more feasible. You can actually watch this as it went down on youtube.
I highly recommend this seminar if it comes anywhere near where you live. Good coaching and cues from a different instructor can be just what you need to break through a plateau and set new records for yourself.