Lifting Heavy Things - A Way of Life
Embracing Discomfort - CrossFit Open 17.1

CrossFit Speciality Course - Gymnastics

IMG_0157Why does someone attend a CrossFit Specialty course? Personally, I was hoping to 1) learn how to better coach gymnastics and 2) improve my own CrossFit gymnastics. As an older athlete with no gymnastics background, these are massive opportunities for me. 

How old am I? I attended the seminar while I was vacationing at my condo in a 55 & over development in Naples, FL. That's old for a CrossFit dude. 

While the course was hosted by North Naples CrossFit, the instructors were Chuck and Vanessa Bennington from CrossFit Seaward in Sarasota, FL. 

Just as the pre-reading suggested, the training covered such CrossFit gymnastics staples as:

  • Hollow and arch positions
  • Pull-ups
  • Toes-to-bar
  • Pass through
  • Front & back lever
  • Ring supports
  • Ring dips
  • Muscle-ups
  • Pistols
  • Handstands, handstand push-ups and handstanswalks
  • Headstands
  • Parallettes 

I left the two-day seminar tired, sore and with a head full of concepts to apply when I returned home. 

Below are some of the highlights from the course, including lots of Chuck Bennington's quotes (which I tried to capture as accurately as possible in my notebook): 

  • Chuck does not believe in sitting or standing with crossed arms. Offenders were reminded throughout the weekend.
  • The goal of traditional gymnastics is scoring while CrossFit gymnastics is focused on fitness.
  • Reasons for pursuing CrossFit gymnastics include:
    • "Doing the common uncommonly well."
    • "Looking good naked and quality of life."
    • "Exploring the limits of our capacity."
    • "We need to get athletes to understand the deeper meaning of gymnastics to get them to focus on this hard thing."
  •  Gymnastics focuses on 5 of the 10 skills less involved in weightlifting (while also having a positive impact on lifting):
    • Flexibility
    • Coordination
    • Agility
    • Accuracy
    • Balance
  • The importance of nutrition? "Who might just be too fat. Overly fat and gymnastics will never happen."
  • "Begin by teaching them how to move."
  • "Every Open WOD will probably have a body weight component."
  • Gymnastics included in 50% of Games/Regionals WODs, 100% of Open WODs and about 75% of class CrossFit WODs.
  • "Go back to failing at something."
  • 7 of the top 10 women at the Games have gymnastics backgrounds. 
  • "Have fun and save lives."
  • "Don't lose sight of the magic."
  • "Changing the world through health and fitness."
  • "The only community some people have." 
  • "An incredible thing that saves and heals people."
  • "When was the last time you went into the box and worked on gymnastics for an hour?"
  • "You've spent hours working on lifts but not playing with gymnastics."
  • "It's like taking a bar exam every day to pass the test.  It's not happening."
  • Watch gymnastics on Instagram and YouTube like you do HookGrip.
  • Never using bands for pull-up progression. Uses bar strapped into J-hooks as a progression.
  • "How often do you break off in pairs to practice gymnastics?"
  • "Do less, better."
  • Film gymnastics like you do lifts.
  • Program gymnastics for yourself to allow yourself to learn.
  • Don't compete every day - need to understand the 'material' - competing should be an occasional thing.
  • Synergy of putting things together including gymnastics (e.g., alternating EMOMs - thrusters and pull-ups, strict pull-ups plus cleans - smokes shoulders to kill early pull).

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