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Reflections on Gymnastic Bodies seminar

Last weekend I attended a two-day Gymnastic Bodies Level 1 seminar with Coach Sommer at Lift Performance Centre in Sydney. I’ve known about Coach Sommer and his method for a long time, and have always wanted to train with him, so I was really excited to finally have the time and resources to attend.

The weekend seminar was geared towards people like myself who may have a background in Crossfit, Martial Arts, Olympic Lifting, rock climbing, Parkour, Yoga or fitness. The main objective was to hone gymnastic strength training skills, rather than acrobatics.

Over the course of two days we examined and drilled bodyweight fundamentals, and worked on mastering strength, mobility and quality of movement in our arms (straight and bent), legs, and handstands.

For me, I found some of the alignment drills up against the wall for handstands really useful for understanding how much I should use my traps, and not rely solely on my shoulders.

As well as learning a heap of great drills and techniques, I also met some really interesting, like-minded people. In this digital age, it’s always cool when you get to meet someone you’ve been following online. One such dude is Ondrej Holiencin, AKA Mr Bodyweight Moustache.

Ondrej is an affiliate of Gymnastic Bodies, and I wanted to ask him about his journey into the world of all things bodyweight training. Here's what he had to say:

1. First thing’s first, tell us about the name!

Sure! There’re a few things represented by the name

It’s old school – I don’t think following the latest craze is the right approach to physical practice. Unless you can already do what Olympic gymnasts could do in 1930’s you may very well train like they did.

It’s educated - My high school physics teacher had a moustache and high school physics teachers are to be taken seriously. He also had a glass eye and smoked pipe. If you have any doubt about educated moustaches think about how many Nobel Prize laureates had one.

It’s cool – It’s the one thing cooler than Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari and Chuck Norris’s round kick.

It’s badass – I was very much inspired by Miroslav Tyrs, who started early gymnastic movement called “Sokol” in 1830’s in Bohemia. He fought against the ideas of national socialism, trained hard to improve his physical structure, drank a lot of beer, wrote thesis on Schopenhauer and became a professor of philosophy. It doesn’t get any more badass than that.

2. How long have you been doing bodyweight training for, and how did you get into it?

I started gymnastics when I was at university at the age of nineteen. I only did tumbling back then and only started doing more strength training a couple of years ago. Today I focus mostly on strength training, contortion, hand balancing and other circus skills.

3. Of all the available training systems you could affiliate with, why Gymnastic Bodies?

It’s the most comprehensive foundation system out there and it’s still growing and improving. Coach Sommer is a great mentor who has very high standards but is always willing to share the knowledge he has.

4. What was the highlight of the seminar for you?

Definitely the planche progressions. There’s a long way from a tuck planche to a straddle planche and the refined progressions reflect this better.

5. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting out on their gymnastic strength training journey?

Building a habit of physical practice should be your number one priority. It doesn’t matter if you train 10mins or 2hrs a day, if you do exercise A or B, or how many sets or reps you do. You can fix that later. First build a habit and make it stick.

6. How can Sydney folk get in touch with you about training?

Visit the website or say hello over the social media. We’re on Facebook and Instagram.

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