Just like strength is a skill, tumbling, specifically the back-tuck, is a skill. It is the first skill I ever set my mind to.
Tumbling was a mental challenge for me growing up. It was crucial for gymnastics and cheerleading. All the other girls seemed to have no problem with the skills. I played more mind games with myself on the full-twisting back-layout than anything. I spent hours trying to find a mark to “spot” on the wall before doing a standing tuck or the full.
The standing tuck is the golden ticket. It is a status. You can’t make a Varsity team or collegiate team without it. To be able to jump up in the air, flip yourself around and nevertheless throw your head backwards to initiate the flip, is terrifying but also, gratifying when you get it.
After struggling with the skill before high school and then struggling with it in college, (I grew 1.5 inches and gained weight) I thought there was no need to struggle anymore. I wanted to throw in the towel. I mean, what adult needs to be able to maintain the ability to do the back tuck? On the other hand, I thought, why not work to maintain the skill?
Why not someday be that mom that can do it?
In 2013 I began going to adult gymnastics in Chicago. I re-intriocudeced myself to the skill on the spring floor. After a few attempts, the muscle memory was as if I never stopped flipping. I loved doing this trick! I vowed to continue to keep working on it.
But, life happens. I traveled more times than I can count, slept little and also laughed little. The one thing I did stay consistent with, was strength training.
From January 2014 to April 2014 I put on 6-8 pounds of muscle. All of that strength only HELPED me, the next time I attempted the flip was this November 2014. On one particular November Saturday I was feeling especially strong–so I trusted my power, speed and ability to jump high, explosively. After my boyfriend gave me a pep-talk (which is actually hilarious because he cannot do a flip…yet), I did it. I was SO relieved.
Proving to yourself that you are physically capable of something when your mind thinks otherwise is like the muscle having a personality.
My muscles showed me who was boss. They knew what to do when I mentally wasn’t all there.
I will use this experience when I get in my own head about the deadlift– especially as I approach my first ever powerlifting meet in January. I encourage all of you to try moves that scare you (safely), whether it be a somersault, headstand, yoga pose, or other skill.