My First Class

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Kim

New Member
Mar 24, 2009
11
Bay Area, CA
Okay, well I had my first gymnastics class last night. Overall, I think it went well, although I wasn't able to do as much as I wanted to do (I know, I know, take it slow and don't expect too much). We started out by doing aerobic exercises by jumping rope for five minutes. To my surprise I was able to outlast most of the younger girls in their early twenties in the class. I had to stop and catch my breath a few times but not nearly as much as some of them did! That made me feel quite good. After that we moved on to stretching. The instructor told us to hold our stretch positions for at least thirty seconds. This wasn't too much of a problem for me either. I wasn't familiar with the various stretch exercises so he came over and showed me how to stretch my wrists, and back. I already knew a few leg stretches so I didn't need any help there.

Then we moved on to the floor. Since I have never done any of these skills before, I was like a toddler trying to learn. We started off with the forward roll. Although it looked easy with the other people doing them, I still needed the instructor to help me with positioning. At first I tried to let my knees hit the ground until he told me not to. I didn't take me long to get the hang of it but I noticed that I lost momentum when I came up. The instructor told me to hold my legs as I come out of the roll so that it would be easier to complete. I'll have to remember that for next week. After the forward rolls we moved on to the backward roll. Now I found this one to be more difficult than the forward roll. One of the older women in the class reminded me to put my chin down before I rolled back as not to hurt myself. Oh, I should mention that the instructor put me on a wedge in order to do this. I'm not sure if that's standard procedure for someone just starting out or if he thought that I wouldn't "get it". I'm glad that I had the wedge though!

The handstand and cartwheels I couldn't do. He had me to try the "teddy bear" I guess to help me build up to a handstand. It looks like it will be a while before I can get the hang of it. I guess the problem is that I bend my arms when I hit the floor instead of keeping them straight. It's so hard to keep my arms straight. He showed me the various positions: stretch position, pike, roll and straddle. Umm, I'm going to need major help in order to get the straddle! I mostly watched the other people in class as they were doing their straddle rolls and cartwheels, etc. Sigh, I wish it was me already! He also told me that I should come to the gym instead of practicing at home because real gymnastic mats are real expensive but if I had an old futon then I could use that for practice.

I found the trampoline to be grea fun, just as I expected. It's a little challenging to remain in the "middle" of the trampoline as I come down out of the jump and I also didn't realize that I should be pushing off with my toes at first. Yes, that was a lot of fun.

He wouldn't let me try the beam or bars as he explained everything else is based on the floor exercises, which makes sense to me. But he did say that he saw improvement in my rolls even in the little time I was there! Yay for me :)
 
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dannolynn

Guest
sounds like you had a great first class! it is typical to start out doing backward rolls on a wedge mat. i used to teach beginner's classes and that is what we did. backward rolls are definitely much harder than forward! thanks for sharing this, it's really interesting to hear about gymnastics from the perspective of someone just learning everything. i hope you're able to keep sharing as you learn new things. i'm sure you'll be doing handstands and cartwheels in no time!
 

marie83

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Judge
Club Owner
Mar 23, 2009
1,145
West Midlands, England
Country
United Kingdom
Glad you enjoyed it!

Don't worry, the wedge is a standard procedure for backward rolls - it aids momentum and is much softer than the floor too, so good for repetitions!

As for handstands and cartwheels - these just require a bit of upper body strength, mid body conditioning and confidence which you will gain without even realising after a few weeks.

Holding press up position for 30 seconds a few times a day will help and when you feel that it is easy, you can raise your feet - I used to use the bottom stair in my house and then gradually work my way up the stairs! Bending the arms is common with beginners so your instructor should be able to give you some sound advice.
Bunny hops will also help. In fact I have many many drills for handstands so if you ever fancy hearing them just let me know! hehe

Oh and for the 'getting up' part of the forward roll, practice rocking backwards and forwards in a tucked shape and then standing up with your arms by your ears. This is also easier if you start on a slight platform, maybe a folded panel mat. When you are ready to stand, put your feet on the floor, rather than the mat.

Can't wait to hear more! keep up the good work!
Marie
 
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Catya

Guest
Sounds like your first class went well, Kim. I remember my first class. I could only do the stretches, rolls, cartwheels and some of the conditioning. But it was still a blast. And you're going to get better with every class! Thanks for sharing your first class experience. It's cool to hear about gymnastics from someone who's just learning. It's like an in-depth lesson and review on gymnastics theory or something! :)
Good luck!
 

Kim

New Member
Mar 24, 2009
11
Bay Area, CA
I appreciate the support everyone. You know, I imagine it is interesting to read about someone's experience as they are just starting out, especially as an adult and not as a child. So I'll aim to give you more information as I progress.

Marie I would love to hear your drills for handstands. I was watching my niece the other day and I think I know what you mean by bunny hops. It's so funny that I'm trying to learn the same things she is. Kind of like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School.

Is there anyone hear that started as an adult, with no prior experience or am I the only one?
 
Mar 27, 2009
80
Singapore/Perth
You're not the only one. I had my first class a few weeks ago with a friend but because she hurt her neck after that class, we haven't been in two weeks. I went by myself today. My forward rolls are alot better and I actually tried a handstand lol. I'm having quite alot of troubles with a pullover on bars...it's just quite abit scary. I like being on beam but there's not much I can do now other than skipping, hopping, half turns and scales lol. I've also gotten much less dizzy doing cartwheels than in my first lesson! :D However, in my gym, it's not really a full on gymnastics class. The coach kind of lets you do whatever you want...I don't really like that but there's no other gyms that are near my house that does adult classes. :(
 

marie83

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Judge
Club Owner
Mar 23, 2009
1,145
West Midlands, England
Country
United Kingdom
Marie I would love to hear your drills for handstands. I was watching my niece the other day and I think I know what you mean by bunny hops. It's so funny that I'm trying to learn the same things she is. Kind of like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School.
Hi Kim,

Here are some handstand exercises. Hope you know what I mean, I've tried to describe them as best I can!

For the handstand, your upper body strength and mid body conditioning need to be fairly good, so here are some exercises which will help both or one or other of these:

1. Tightness Test - You need a partner for this one.

Lie on your back, with arms flat on the floor by your ears. squeeze your legs together, and lift your hips up (pelvic tilt). Get your partner to lift your legs as high as possible, whilst you keep your hips raised. As you get good at this, tell your partner to let go of one of your feet, but not to tell you which one! The idea is that you have to try and keep your legs together, even when one is released. I do this every session with my youngest gymnasts as the pelvic tilt and body tension is very important in the handstand.

2. Press up position

Basically just hold press up position. Just hold it for as long as you can, record the length of time you held it for. For a couple of weeks at least, try and hold it for that length of time and then try holding it for another few seconds. When you feel that you can hold it for upwards of 30 seconds, try raising your feet onto a higher surface. Keep raising them over a few months, until eventually you are in handstand with your stomach against the wall.

3. Press up position walks

In press up position, either wearing socks, or put your feet in an upturned frisbee, try and walk forwards with your hands, dragging your feet behind you. You can try walking backwards too.

4. Press up position, lift to handstand

Again you will need a partner for this. Get into press up position and ask your partner to lift your feet so that your body is horizontal. When you find this comfortable, ask them to raise your feet higher and higher until they get to handstand

5. Bunny Hops

Squat down and put your hands on the floor. Spread your fingers apart so it is comfortable. Jump your feet off the floor and land back down where you started. As you feel you can, jump higher and higher, eventually trying to get your bottom above your head. You might need to ask someone to spot you incase you over rotate. To help you to balance, squeeze your fingertips into the floor.

6. Bunny hops over a bench - flat or raised

This will also help the cartwheel. Travel along a bench, bunny hopping from side to side. When you get good at this, raise one end of the bench (most benches have hooks on the end) and try to bunny hop over the highest part of the bench.

7. Press up position crunches

Didn't really know what to call this one! For this you need a gym exercise ball, or something similar that rolls! Place your feet on the ball and hands on the floor in press up position. bend your knees towards your stomach, thus rolling the ball towards your hands. Straighten your legs and repeat.

8. Handstands against the wall with stomach to the wall

Place hands on the floor and walk your feet up the wall. When your feet are as high as they can go, move your hands backwards until they are as close to the wall as you can get them. Ideally your armpits should be by the wall and your ears should be glued between your arms.

9. Handstands against the wall with back to the wall

10. Handstands with a partner catching legs.

Practice holding this for as long as possible.

All of these exercises can be done along side eachother, but you might need to build up to the harder ones! Correct technique is also important - maybe get your instructor to check first.

Hope these help. The are just conditioning exercises really, haven't really gone into the actually method of doing a handstand.

Good Luck!
 
Mar 27, 2009
80
Singapore/Perth
For the handstand, my coach told me it's very simple. All I need is some guts lol. He brought me to the wall with padded mats or something on them. He told me where to place my hands then kick up as hard as I could. If I was going to fall over, he'd catch me. Hehehe. Of course, that being said, you do need some upper body strength to hold it in place even for a short period of time because the coach is holding just your legs.
 

Jer505

New Member
Mar 2, 2009
14
PA
wish me luck

Looks like I'm going to do the class thing too - I'm taking the plunge this Tuesday night at an adult's gymnastic class. The instructor told me it would be 20 min core, 20 min tumbling, and 2- minutes other (rings, pommel horse, bars, etc.). This is really hard for me - I'm 49, in good shape, but I feel a bit weird about it. I'm told there's guys and girls in the class, ages 18-50 so hopefully it will be ok.

I felt kinda good when I asked what the class was all about and he said "we have fun" - I want to learn some stuff but it sounds like low pressure. The class is at the Parkettes in Allentown - hopefully they won't weigh me in every class :)
 

kyliesmith1

Member
Jan 2, 2009
155
Myrtle Beach, SC
I'm excited for all you newbies out there. It sounds like you're having fun and learning new things. I think it shows its never too late to start something new if you're really determined. To tell you the truth I wish we still had an adult class going on at our gym. Even though most of the people who took the class besides me were mostly beginners it was just nice to have other adults working out in the gym. So have fun and continue to tell us what new things you learned and remember keep up with your conditioning and that will really help you progress quicker
 
Mar 27, 2009
80
Singapore/Perth
Gymnastics is an excellent way to get fit and flexible! I'm not sure if this is the case for adults but for gymnasts who start as children, their bone mass as adults is quite dense. I'm not sure if it holds true for us. :)
 

nicci1999

Active Member
Gymnast
Dec 21, 2008
799
NH
It definitely gets you both fit and flexible! The increased bone mass does hold true for us. Regardless of age, the bones are constantly breaking themselves down, or building themselves up, depending on what is demanded of them. So someone who is constantly pounding the floor hard, such as a runner, gymnast, ect, has very dense bones so they don't just break and are able to better withstand the stress.
 

nicci1999

Active Member
Gymnast
Dec 21, 2008
799
NH
Yes, lifting weights in and of itself will not build bone density, it will strengthen the muscles, ligaments tendons that surround the bones.(Or at least that I am aware of, please anyone feel free to correct me). Gotta love Anatomy and Physiology!
 
C

Catya

Guest
Our bodies can always change. They constantly change to fit what we make them do throughout our lives. Like sedentary people develop bodies that can't really do anything. And gymnastics will get us bodies that are strong, lean and flexible.
 

Jer505

New Member
Mar 2, 2009
14
PA
2nd class

Well, I went to my first class last week and it was great! There was one other guy a little younger than me, 1/2 dozen college age girls, and a couple of moms(!). I'm definitively the newbie there; besides the core work we did floor all night, mostly work on front handsprings, although I was relegated to doing them with the assistance of some kind of octagon rolling ball to help me flip over.

Where else can you go and practice diving rolls and live to tell about it?!?:)

We're supposed to do more floor tomorrow night along with some still ring work. Can't wait.
 
J

Jennykait

Guest
Actually, lifting weights does build bone density (I'm a personal trainer). The tugging of the tendons and ligaments on the bones results in enough strain to add density to the bone tissue.
 

LittleLady

Member
Feb 3, 2009
215
Vermont
Way to go, Jer! Good to hear you're enjoying your classes even as a newbie and living to tell about it. chuckle. Keep up the good work and keep us all informed about your progress, ok? :)
 
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