Before we get started with the Q+A I wanted to share a couple things, first off, I’ve enjoyed slacklining for a while now, but am always reminded of the very important lesson from when I first started trying it — it really REALLY did seem impossible, but after trying and trying and trying and trying it finally happened. When I get in the zone I can walk back and forth and sometimes if a friend has set up another slackline we will go from one then to the other, etc. It’s a lot of fun, and I am always reminded of this important lesson when I start a session after not doing it for a while (we’ve had a few months of nearly constant afternoon rains which make the whole place disgustingly muddy).
The video below is exactly how most slackline sessions start for me, a very short walk, then longer and longer as I get my head into the right space again. Usually by the time I post a video, I’ve gotten past this point, but I wanted you to see this as well, especially if you’ve just started playing with a slackline or any balance challenge.
OK — on to the Q+A!! After writing a post for the Official Dragon Door PCC Blog a little bit ago about preparing for a PCC Workshop, I had a few people ask me some interesting questions about the workshop.
Q: I keep seeing all these impressive photos from participants and instructors… it seems like I need to have a yoga or gymnastics background to attend, I’m very intimidated now…
A: Far from it! Sure there are some very cool photos that regularly pop up from the workshops, and from people who have attended or from PCC Instructors, but these are often the result of a whole lot of practice. AND I have it on VERY VERY good info that there’s a Senior PCC Instructor who doesn’t have a yoga OR gymnastics background — wait I know that for a fact, because… it’s ME! My background is monkey bars as a kid, strength training as an adult, kettlebells, and good old fashioned actual-factual Progressive Calisthenics as presented in Convict Conditioning…. and maybe having some extra energy.
Want to know a TERRIBLE SECRET?!?!? I had absolutely zero desire to even do a bridge at all before reading the Convict Conditioning book when it first came out! After working through the progressions to a full bridge over a good long period of time, I did one to show a friend, she said “oh the wheel pose!” Utterly confused, I started looking around for tires. Point being, you don’t need a yoga background to do well at Progressive Calisthenics. If you have one — GREAT! If not, that’s great too! Bring your strengths and YOUR experience to the workshop, whatever it might be!
As for gymnastics, I love watching the Olympics and am always inspired by cool tumbling moves etc, but once again, I don’t have a background in that at all, and that’s totally ok! We get this question a lot — and its understandable since there’s a lot of crossover between bodyweight training and gymnastics. Gymnastics is a sport with very specific rules, regulations, and points for performance. What we do with Progressive Calisthenics is more about building our strength, coordination, skill, etc. There’s much less “right and wrong”. Obviously be safe and responsible with your training, but beyond that there’s a whole lot of freedom and infinite levels of progression AND regression. ANYONE can start. And yes some of the moves do look super cool.
Q: But… people keep posting these pictures on social media of themselves at home doing all these impossible looking things! I can’t do those yet!
A: Other advice? Log out of social media and go train! Online you’re seeing people’s highlight reels most of the time (which is part of the reason I like posting stuff that’s a little rough around the edges… it’s a form of rebellion!) For every strength that someone may present online you can bet that there’s a challenge they are working with as well.
For example, at one PCC Workshop there were some really super impressive young guys who could knock out clapping muscle-ups like gravity didn’t apply to them, but during the section on bridges? They were dead in the water! At another workshop there was someone incredibly gifted with handstands, he could stay up there for what seemed like all day — but strength during the pistol squats section was a big issue for him. Similarly you’ll find some participants do incredibly well on any hand balancing or very mobility oriented drill, only to be unable to do many if any pull ups or other show of pure strength.
The lesson is, we all have things we’re great at, and we all have things we’re working on. It’s easy to assume that because someone is great at something that they’re great at everything. Be proud of your own progress and be ready to learn from everyone AND to contribute your knowledge as well. Besides, as fitness professionals, we’re going to find outselves helping people with the earliest progressions most of all, and we ALL had to start somewhere. It’s too easy to forget that — part of why I love to start learning things that feel impossible at first is to remember how that feels so I can have even more empathy when working with an absolute beginner, or someone who’s just getting back to a healthier lifestyle. Again, we ALL had to start somewhere!
Psyched? You can’t beat the original Convict Conditioning for the ultimate in simply effective at-home (or backyard) training from zero to OMG.
REALLY Psyched? See you at an Upcoming PCC Workshop!