Here’s a short post I’d like to share with you this morning about the benefits of gymnastics / acrobatics / yoga – cos you’ve probably noticed that we like to do it a bit 😉
I call these sports empowering activities because they build upon skills and mindsets are complimentary towards other everyday life activities. Basically – What I really like about acrobatics, is it makes you better at everything 🙂
So this group of activities – which for ease of reference I’m going to call acrobatics (but I mean all the previous activities of gymnastics, yoga and acrobatics) – focus and develop sets of skills that are benefit to so many other activities. Physical strength and power are the obvious attributes that come to mind right? And yes, holding handstands against a wall will definitely improve your upper body strength. BUT, more specifically is the WAY in which it does it. Acrobatics primarily utilises your own body weight, or an additional person’s weight, requiring cohesion between different muscle groups all at the same time. Take holding a handstand. You need to be able to push strong through your shoulders, back, keep steady and braced through your core, keep your legs long and tight and point your toes. All at once. So you train 4 or 5 muscle groups simultaneously. Even better, is your are not just training them through heavy extremes. The nature of gymnastics requires CONSTANT minute adjustments of the body to counter-balance, which means that your muscles get very good at small, minute control actions as well as the brute strength aspect. Double win!
The second most obvious, but sadly less upheld section is flexibility. This is the golden child people. Flexibility is your msucle’s, tendon’s and ligament’s abilities to extend under force and then return to their original position. Where every goes wrong with their understanding of flexibility is, it’s not so much a matter of seeing how FAR you can stretch, but how effective your body is at returning these elements to their original positions. The better your flexibility, the easier it is for your muscles to repeatedly return smaller movements back….which means you don’t get sore as quickly! THIS!!!! THIS is why flexibility is king. So many people blame joints as a reason to not be able to undertake cardio, often for very legitimate reasons i’ll admit, however flexibility is often a cause. A very good friend of mine, who is age 60 (he’ll know who he is if he reads this), couldn’t run more than 4km without exceedingly sore knees. Said that “They wouldn’t stretch out”. Well this person decided they wanted to do an IRONMAN, which requires a 42km run AFTER a 3km swim and 180km bike ride. I’m so happy to say that after incorporating stretching into a DAILY routine, this person absolutely dominated their first ever IRONMAN, at age 60.
Gymnastics / Acro / Yoga are a series of sports that require mental discipline. A lot of the skills require pre-requisite skills to be mastered before even being ABLE to attempt them. I like this. It sets clear practice drill pathways and focus points to dedicate yourself towards. I’m going to use my example of a handstand again. Straight away this can be a scary prospect, what if you fall over? Great question! That’s why you break the skill down into drills to ensure that you are capable of all the individual aspects before putting them together. You need to work on the small muscle controls, get your head around the whole upside thing, realise which muscles you need to utilise most to balance (spoiler, its not your arms!!). And when you wrap this all up, it forms a series of steps that require some dedication to achieve. Which is why you don’t see every man and his (really gifted?) dog out handstanding everywhere. It takes PRACTICE. And in our “here and now” world, this is a great lesson to learn. CLICK HERE for a look at our HOW-TO guides for handstands if you’d like to learn. They break it all down and safely build you up to succeed!
So this group of sports that can impress, amaze and even dumbfound….it’s the province of the genetically gifted right? WRONG! I myself didn’t start until I was 22 years old and very unfit. Some of the people who I have seen learn the fastest have been in their 40’s, never done a cartwheel in their life, but by oath they WANT to do it. For a sport that is both individual and group orientated, can be high intensity (gymnastics) or low intensity (acro-yoga), and will also be a benefit to the rest of your everyday life – PICK acrobatics! Start small. Aim big. Have Fun. Love life.