Liam (L) sat down with Jack (J) and Nicole (N) to discuss Gymnastic Strength.
L: What do you want people to get out of the class?
J: A new experience! But ultimately our intention is for people to learn how to use their bodies in space. We use gymnastics as a tool to do this: getting people upside down, getting them comfortable with new equipment like rings and parallette bars. Getting them to use their bodies in a way they never thought they could.
N: To show people how to use their bodies in a raw sense, to remove implements like dumbbells and barbells. We want to give people more knowledge on where their strengths are, weaknesses are, and what they need to work on in their physical bodies.
L: What’s the structure of the class?
N: We start with a warmup that’s dependent on what we’ll be working on. There’s a strength component at the beginning, and then either compression work for the midline or stabilisation for the midline and some kind of upper or lower mobility work.
J: We work towards the base strength exercises of gymnastics: handstands, planche, muscle up etc. The class is structured on regressions and progressions around these movements, with a particular focus each week.
L: Who is the class aimed at?
J: Anyone who wants to come. Anyone can do it because we can regress anything. It’s really aimed at people who are open to new things, people who are okay with not being good at something the first time – which not everyone is.
N: Anyone who wants to get into their body. It can be confronting for those without much physical ability, but if they’re willing to work, that’s what matters.
L: What’s your favourite thing about teaching the class?
N: This is a bit naughty, but I like when people can’t do something. It’s a wake-up call for them. They need to bring it back, be patient, and work on this properly. People can go into this graciously, or they don’t, and if they don’t then they’ll never get better because they’re not willing to actually see what’s there.
J: The pace, it’s really slow, a controlled speed and environment. People think they need to train hard and go, go, go, all the time, but you can exhaust the system without going so hard. So we use big rests, and we chill and talk and communicate, which is nice for the environment, but we’re still working hard when we need to. It’s a nice little space to teach because you’re not screaming at people.
L: How did you get into this sort of training?
J: Funnily enough, through Instagram. I was looking at legends on Instagram doing handstands, thinking “Oh, that’s pretty cool”, then I started doing it myself and I realised it was so much harder than I thought it was going to be. I fell in love with it.
L: What principles from this class do you apply to your own training?
N: Definitely body awareness, skill, and how to get better at that skill. And working with others, so others can mirror you. I’ll get Jack to check out my handstand, or take video, and he’ll tell me what I need to do, what he can see that I can’t. This external feedback is useful so I can internalise it. As a teacher, I’m giving that to people in my class.
L: What’s your personal philosophy of training?
J: I really enjoy working on skills, something I can develop over time that’s not just building numbers and weight on bars. The strength becomes relatable to other things I want to do in my life, like surfing and other sports. My philosophy is to train in a way that’s efficient and relates to these other aspects of my life.
L: What are the physical benefits to doing this class?
N: It improves physical awareness (co-ordination, balance and spatial awareness) and increases bodyweight strength and relative strength.
L: Could you do the class if you had no legs?
N: Yes (spoken confidently).
L: What if you had one arm?
N: …yes (not so confident).
To come and experience a class for yourself, book here!