Elements of Surprise

First up, an update on goals vs levels in the Balance and Accuracy class. In a fit of despair, Andy has decided that FINE, they can be levels and FINE, I can name those levels after pokemon if I really want to. I think a little piece of his soul died when I informed him that I was working on Balance Level Bulbasaur. You know what? Jumping is hard. You have to use your arms AND your legs AND your abdominal muscles all at once in a coordinated manner. I don’t really do coordination, which makes the Jump Training elements class hard for me. You’re probably not going to be surprised to hear that we jumped a lot in this class. We jumped UP. We jumped DOWN. We jumped ALONG. We worked on landing form (which, incidentally, really complements the Wednesday accuracy class). There was a lot more variety in this class than I expected, and we went from muscleups (yes, muscle ups in a jump class) to kongs to routes in the space of an hour. By the time I got home after this one, I was so knackered that I could barely get to bed because I had forgotten how to legs. I didn’t know that was possible. On a personal note, the elements classes are having unexpected effects. My unconscious expectation was pretty much along the lines of “hey, we’re going to focus on skill X. That’s cool. I will improve at skill X.” That’s not entirely wrong, but some additional stuff is going on. When you focus on a skill, it highlights your strengths and weaknesses in that skill, and those aren’t always what you would expect them to be. So far, I’ve learned the following things:

  1. I can actually jump further than I tend to believe. However, I am not using my arms at all, which holds me back. It doesn’t hold me back nearly as much as my incorrect beliefs about what I can and can’t do, though, which Yao has been mercilessly forcing me to face up to in ways that only he can. As much as I flail and complain, it’s helping.
  2. My balance skills are actually not terrible. However, not only am I uncomfortable with two-footed jumps, my accuracy with those isn’t great. That discomfort is something I’ve always kind of avoided in regular classes, but Wednesday accuracy drills are making me deal with it – and dealing with it works much better than trying to avoid it, by the way, in case you were wondering.

I’m also beginning to feel that these sessions interlink with each other and with the regular classes. Yes, they’re stand-alone classes – but what you do in one feeds into what you do in another. I actually had a really frustrating moment in Thursday Jump Training when I repeatedly failed a jump that logically, I knew was well within a safe distance for me. I may not have managed that jump – but this Wednesday, that frustration helped me to finally do a rail to wall jump that I’d thought was too scary-looking the week before. Also, despite the whining and various sounds of distress I subjected everyone to in Passing Obstacles last week, I noticed a surprising amount of self-confidence in the regular Wednesday class routes, and the less-regular partner obstacle drills (there is no class like the Wednesday night Chainstore class) after having worked on getting over precarious piles of danger. Speaking of the unexpected, quadrupedal movement class. There are lots of really great reasons to work on quadrupedal movement. However, these aren’t why I like it. I like it because I want to be able to do this:


We didn’t actually get to crawl out of a TV and kill people with our eyes, but I helpfully added some creepy zombie sounds, so that’s pretty close. In addition, Kevin demonstrated a creepy-looking lizard crawl variant that caused us to make various sounds of horror and disgust. The weird thing about QM is that while it can sound kind of impractical (when was the last time you monkey-walked to work?) it’s used to condition the body for so many things. Last summer, I went off to Ireland for a juggling convention and spent most of my time learning basic acrobatics stuff. What did we do on day one of the afternoon workshop with my friend Emmet? Lizard crawl. What did the conditioning class immediately after? Yeah. Lizard crawl. QM is great low-impact conditioning for the entire body. It helps your coordination and proprioception without much chance of you smashing your legs into railings – when I first started parkour, I was a confused mess of uncontrolled limbs, and I honestly think that the million and one variants of crawling, prancing (yes, like a pony. Thanks, Dan) and bouncing about on all fours has done a lot to help with that. It didn’t hurt my overall strength and fitness, either. There’s also the creative thinking aspect. You have to move while keeping a knee above your head. What do you do? How about keeping your hips up? Have you thought of something? Cool. Does it actually work? How does it feel to balance that way? Do you fall over when you move? Is there a better way? Doesn’t everything look weird when your head is upside down? In short, I’d recommend this class unless you’re the Chainstore dog or a chimpanzee.

Also, bonus point: there’s a mobility class immediately after. Low impact conditioning and mobility work? Pretty good Saturday afternoon, really.


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