Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'll tumble for ya...

I've been thinking about it for months, and I finally took the plunge.  Yep, I enrolled in an adult gymnastics class.  I always loved tumbling in high school, it was one of my favorite parts of cheering.  However, not only is it fun, but it's also a fabulous workout.  I've been thinking forever that I wish I could start tumbling again, but didn't really know where to start.  I really just missed it, and also wanted something I could do to exercise which didn't require begging and pleading with myself.  There's nothing that I can do that doesn't feel like working out, aka torture.  I don't love running, I don't love hiking, I don't do yoga or pilates, and while I love team sports, they don't count because I have to get other people to do that.
Finally I did a little research and found out the Chelsea Piers offers classes for adults.  Sweet!  I kind of put it off for a while but finally took the plunge after realizing I need to do something for me.  Yes, yes, I know, being single my life is pretty much all about me, however I decided I needed to do something for me that was good and healthy, and brought more benefits than spoiling myself with shopping adventures could.
Last night was my first class.  I couldn't stop talking about it all day at work.  I was so excited!  I even got there 30 minutes early.  After I got there, however, the intimidation sort of set in.  I quickly realized I was doing this class with a bunch of strangers.  If you've ever watched someone learning to tumble you've seen what a fool they make of themselves.  At times it's really awkward as you jump backward, arms and legs flailing in the air, only to face plant it, sometimes seriously hurting yourself.  Back in the day I was with my best friends and it was really no big deal, we could all laugh at ourselves and each other.  I always felt so much support from my teammates and coaches, but would I get that here?  
As people showed up I got more and more nervous.  There was an asian person I originally thought was a female, but turned out to be male (I was in Chelsea, so I have to expect to see a lot of gays/transexuals, etc.)  Chinese people are crazy with acrobatics, so I initially figured this person would be really good.  There was a big Russian looking guy, some other young guys with ripped bodies, and then other girls in their 20s, strutting around in leggings, tank tops, etc, looking really flexible and confident.  Yikes.
Our instructor showed up and started warming us up for our 90 minute class.  Let me tell you, that 40 minutes of stretching and conditioning was the toughest part.  That man is a sadist!  Honestly, it was tough!  I quickly realized I was the weakest person there.  Awesome.  I'm the fat kid who's left alone on the sidelines, waiting to be chosen for someone's dodgeball team.  Sweet.
After this we started doing some easy things to warm up, forward rolls, dive rolls, etc.  There were a couple things, though, that I never really learned how to do, like handstand rolls, and backward rolls pushing up to a handstand.  This is where I realized one of the differences between retired cheerleaders and retired gymnasts.  Cheerleaders don't learn the smaller things that lead into tumbling, they just learn the tricks they can showcase.  Since I didn't know how to do a lot of things one of the coaches said to me in a really nice, encouraging way, "Oh, you're a beginner?  Oh that's okay, Monday nights more advanced people come, but we taylor the class for all skill levels.  I wanted to say, "No, I used to tumble, really, I wasn't bad, I just don't know how to do any of these smaller things, like arials, and front handsprings."  But I told myself to just lower my pride and try to learn a few things.  Let me tell you, it was humbling an difficult to be coached by someone other than people I'd known for years, who knew me and respected me and my talent level.
Once we finally got to start tumbling the coach who was working with the "beginners" was teaching us the basics of back handsprings, having us do snapdowns and other exercises.  He saw that I had the technique, and quickly said, "You used to be a cheerleader, didn't you."  I laughed and said yes, and that if this were seven years ago I wouldn't look like such a beginner, and that I was kind of rusty.  He was really nice and said I would get it back.
While watching the "advanced" people, I felt a little better, seeing as how there really was only one girl who had a consistently clean roundoff handspring tuck, which I could do, on a really good day.  I basically just had my roundoff tuck, or multiple handsprings on any other given day.  All the other girls were working on their tucks, or multiple handsprings.  This gave me a lot of hope that I wouldn't feel so lame in the next few weeks.
After a few times of being spotted I had my back handspring back!  I felt great, just like riding a bike, except I need to get more of my strength back.
It brought back some fond memories.  I did one handspring where my feet were apart and the coach commented on it, and it reminded me of when Nora would tie my ankles together, or I'd have to squeeze a foam cube between my ankles while I did a handspring to keep my feet together.  I also caught myself one time slipping into a dumb habit, where I'll look back at the floor right behind me, just before I do a handspring, as if to make sure the floor is still there??  I used to get teased about it all the time.
I'm not confident enough to just throw the handsprings without a spot even being there at all, but I'm really excited to go next week and hopefully I'll be back at that point.  I wouldn't dare tumble anywhere else though.  In high school we would throw handsprings on the concrete at times, when we had no where else to practice, but for now I'm sticking to the gym floor, where there's a bit of a spring.
As expected, today I am SERIOUSLY sore at pretty much every muscle.  My neck and abs probably the most, but my legs and back are pretty close behind.  Last night on my way home I was seriously beat.  I could barely walk up the subway steps.
Anyway, I had such a fun time.  It made me miss high school and people from the past, but I'm really glad I'm doing it.  There's a class every night Monday through Friday, but for now I think I'll stick to once a week.  We'll see how it goes in the next few weeks.  Maybe I'll want to go more frequently.  In high school I was at practice or a game every day of the week but Sunday, and then sometimes there were competitions, and I still couldn't get enough of it.


Steve and Rebecca said...

How fun!!

Nerak said...

Ok, so when blogs get privatized, for some reason they don't show up on my googlereader. So I have some catching up to do on your blog!!

THIS IS AMAZING. I LOVE THAT YOU ARE IN A GYMNASTICS CLASS. I'm tempted to sign up for a beginner's class.

Elise said...

Want to see beginner?

I will do a cartwheel and you will instantly feel better about yourself. After you clean up the pee from laughing so hard.

katie said...

Hey Rachel!

I've really missed your blog and for some reason my google reader wasn't updating the posts (probably since you went private)...so I was happy to catch up today!

This class sounds amazing. I've been wanting to do some sort of adult ed thing lately...art, exercise, something!

I still want to meet up sometime...maybe when Elise comes?