As a kid I hated Brussel sprouts. If they were served up to me, I’d pop them in my mouth and chew them, then politely say I had to go to the toilet, where I’d spit them out. Or I would cut them up into small pieces and then place my napkin and cutlery over the top of them at the end of the meal so that it looked like I finished them. I really didn’t like them but there was no way I was getting dessert unless I “ate” them.
I thought I was being pretty sneaky and creative but these two strategies rarely ended well as my parents would simply serve me up some more or they would magically uncover the hidden sprouts for me to finish.
In my adult years though, I love them. Cooked well, they are a tasty little morsel packed full of goodness. Caramelised, with a little bit of honey or bacon, or maybe a vinegar dressing – they are gold.
So where am I going with this?
This month of training has seen us focus on Gymnastics, not only in our regular class programming but also in a bonus class on Saturdays. Why? Because Gymnastics makes up a very big part of what we do in CrossFit, plus it gives us an opportunity to improve our body awareness, coordination, balance and agility. It makes sense that we should know how to move our bodies first, before we learn how to move external objects.
Unfortunately, everyone thinks of Gymnastics as being the sexy, glamorous movements – Bar Muscle Ups, Ring Muscle Ups, Handstand Push-ups, Pistols. And everyone wants to do them……NOW.
Here’s the thing though – Muscles Ups, Handstand Push ups and Pistols are quite complex movements that require balance, coordination, strength, mobility and really good body awareness. It’s a combination of all of these factors plus persistence and consistency in practice that will get you the movement.
For most of us, we cannot expect to attend a single class or workshop on these movements and pick them up straight away. We need to break up the movement into it’s small component parts and then practice them, over and over again until we become proficient. Then we need to string those parts together to form the whole…….and keep practicing. Chances are, once you can actually ‘do’ the movement you then need to continually tweak it to become more efficient. It really is never ending.
So, returning to the Brussel Sprouts story. The progressions we have been giving you for Muscle-ups, Handstand Push-ups and Pistols are the Brussel Sprouts. The Muscle-Ups, Handstand Push-ups and Pistols are the Dessert. You must eat your Brussel Sprouts before you get Dessert, meaning you must work on the progressions and build upon them before you will be able to do the full movements. But you can’t just come in a for a single class and do the progressions, and expect that afterwards you should be able to do the full movement. There are some gifted people who that may apply to, but for the rest of us mere mortals, it will require hours of consistent practice.
I taught myself how to do Ring Muscle Ups over the course of two weeks by watching YouTube videos. But I was practicing every single day for at least 30 mins per day. I can almost guarantee that unless you are doing some secret practice at home that I am not aware of, then you are only getting exposure to these movements 4-5 times a month during class.
I have reflected upon this scenario and that is why I have programmed a lot more Gymnastics into the coming months. So please do not look at the WOD and see these movements included, and then decide that you are not going to come in because you cannot do them and you will only end up eating Brussel Sprouts in class. You need to eat Brussel Sprouts! And those people that do eat them consistently will be the ones that get Dessert.
Our next Gymnastics Workshop will be on this Saturday at 10am where we will be focussing on the Muscle Up again. Week one saw a fantastic turnout. Week two should have seen the same number returning because I’m pretty sure no-one walked away from the first class being able to do a perfect Muscle Up, but the numbers were significantly less. Let’s get those numbers up again guys. Come in and eat a big hearty bowl of Brussel Sprouts.