Gymnastics: Building the Foundation

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by NICOLE HELMCAMP

Gymnastics: Who Cares?

In essence, gymnastics training methodology prioritizes physical structure and function first, then skill training.
Take a look at the CrossFit Pyramid of Fitness and you will find Gymnastics as the foundation of Weightlifting and Sport. Applied correctly, gymnastics training primarily involves whole body movements which force the body to perform as an integrated unit, over a wide range of specific training stimuli. Therefore, by developing your gymnastics you establish functional capacity for body control and range of motion. Simply refer to our beloved Olympic gymnasts, the hyper-strong and ever-powerful athletes performing amazing skills with grace and ease. Watching them begs the question – are they as powerful as they appear to be? The answer is a resounding YES! And they collect this superior strength and power primarily through bodyweight conditioning.

In essence, gymnastics training methodology prioritizes physical structure and function first, then skill training. Coach Christopher Sommer states, “Without a body capable of handling the pressures and demands of high level gymnastics, advanced skill training is usually a haphazard affair with unpredictable results as well as a multitude of unnecessary injuries.” His specific programming has lead to substantial levels of general physical preparation across a wide range of other, non-gymnastics related, athletic modalities. Enter CrossFit!

Developing Virtuosity

As we identify, isolate and train these postures, thereby increasing our form, function and stability, we heighten our expression of virtuosity.
Even with exercises nestled under a gymnastics specific domain, many box-goers fail to recognize the relation of bare bodyweight movement to the lifting of barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, stones and the rest. Our goal here is to connect the dots between the proper form and positioning of bodyweight movements which account for optimal function and performance as they translate to countless other CrossFit exercises. As we identify, isolate and train these postures, thereby increasing our form, function and stability, we heighten our expression of virtuosity. In gymnastics, virtuosity is defined as “performing the common uncommonly well.” Even though it may be especially evasive, when an athlete has achieved virtuosity it is distinguishable by both coach and audience. It is the true mark of mastery where the torments of executing advanced skills meet genius and beauty.

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