11 Things I Learned From Competitive Gymnastics

Many children do gymnastics for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is that a child has too much energy and the parents want to tire the kids out, however, that is not how I started gymnastics. No matter how a person starts gymnastics, they learn the same things and hopefully the same life lessons. I do not know who I would be without the 11 things gymnastics taught me growing up.

1. Friendship

Gymnastics teaches kids how to be friends. In gymnastics, you need to cheer on your teammates and encourage them to get a skill. A gymnast also spends at least 12 hours a week in the gym so they are always around the same people, so naturally you become friends with the people you practice with.

2. Patience

A gymnast learns patience from a very young age. Gymnastics skills take time to learn and perfect so a gymnast learns that they have to wait to get the skill. Patience is also required so they do not get angry when they do not get the skill that they are trying to get.

3. Never Give Up

Gymnasts never give up on anything. Gymnasts are taught to keep trying no matter how tiring and frustrating the sport gets. No matter how many times a gymnast falls or does not complete a skill, they get back up and keep trying until they can complete it successfully over and over again, basically until it becomes second nature.

4. Trust

Trust is a major component of gymnastics. A gymnast needs to be able to trust their coach. This coach is responsible for ensuring the safety of the gymnast. If the gymnast cannot trust her coach, then she will not have productive practices and gymnastics then becomes more difficult.

5. The Love of the Olympics

Most sports have a major championship or what could be considered the “Super Bowl” of that sport every year. Baseball has the World Series every year, football has the Super Bowl every year, hockey has the Stanley Cup every year, etc. Gymnasts have their “Super Bowl” every four years: The Olympics. When the Olympics roll around, you can bet most gymnasts will be stationed in front of the TV to see who is going to win gold in every event, all around, and the team, whether it is men or women.

6. How to Handle Fear

Fear is one the biggest obstacles a gymnast will overcome. Fear is presented in every skill that is done. If a gymnast does not have fear they are doing something wrong. It is also normal to have fear as a gymnast because it is not normal or natural to be flying four to eight feet off the ground or to tumble on a four-inch piece of wood, like the balance beam.

7. How to be a Stronger Person
Gymnastics teaches a valuable life lesson by teaching a gymnast to become a stronger person. Not only does gymnastics teach physical strength, it also teaches mental strength. The mental strength a gymnast has in uncanny. Gymnasts get frustrated very easily but this frustration comes from wanting to be a perfectionist, so when gymnasts work through the frustrations they encounter it helps them to become a much stronger person. Gymnasts also work through sore muscles and injuries. No matter the amount of pain someone is in from gymnastics, that person is usually still working because those are the days that being a stronger person is taught.

8. Time Management
Gymnasts are some of the best at managing time. Gymnasts practice anywhere from two and half hours to six hours a day depending on the level. The average time a gymnast spends in the gym each day is four hours. Not only does a gymnast have practice, they also have school work to stay caught up on. Most gymnasts go to school for seven hours then go to the gym for four hours then they still have to do homework and eat dinner while also finding time to shower. Some gymnasts also do more than one sport or activity so they have to find time to do those activities as well. Also, do not forget about finding time to hang out with friends and family. Being a gymnast definitely involves some late nights and basically living in a car all the time, especially during the week.

9. Healthy Habits
Gymnast have some of the healthiest habits. They eat healthy and are working out three to six days a week. Gymnasts know that being healthy is the easiest way to be successful at gymnastics, besides practicing of course.

10. How to Deal with Disappointment
Disappointment is a big part of gymnastics. Whether it is having a bad meet or not finishing where a gymnast thinks they will or not getting a skill when the skill is wanted. Disappointment is something that gymnasts have to work through. Disappointment happens all the time in gymnastics.

Gymnasts learn respect from the first day they enter the gym. Respect is very important in the sport of gymnastics. Not only do gymnasts need to respect their coaches and other athletes they also learn to respect the sport they learn to fall in love with. Whenever you come across another gymnast you automatically know what they are going through so you know to respect them, especially the elite gymnasts.

Matters of the Heart

I got my ultrasound results and just the same as the last 3 tests it has resulted in booking yet another appointment, this time with a cardiologist. I was told by my doctor that I have thickening of the left ventricle, something that I have since found out could be hereditary since my father and uncle have had the same diagnosis. Of course the fact that my dad has had a quadruple bypass doesn’t sit well with me since that’s not a road I really want to travel. Over the course of the tests I have noticed that my blood pressure was high, something that was noted by each tech but put down to situational stress. Being logical I thought that maybe if I went to give blood then that might help, and also be my good deed for the holidays.

You should be in the hospital, she said. I haven’t seen blood pressure that high in forever.

As if I wasn’t stressed enough. I was turned away from the blood clinic with a recommendation that I call my doctor or go to emergency. In case you are wondering what the numbers were, be prepared to be amazed at my surviving…

Of course Google didn’t help me much…

Your blood pressure is 231 over 97?

What your blood pressure values mean
Your blood pressure is: Too high – Hypertension Stage 1
But regarding your systolic (upper) value your blood pressure is rather:
Way too high – Hypertension Stage 3 / Hypertensive crisis

That was an awesome way to start my holiday, and of course what’s worse for super high blood pressure than the stress of having super high blood pressure?
I booked an appointment with the doctor and was in the office that afternoon.
Her AVERAGE reading was 188/97 which although much better still had my veins bulging out of my forehead like ship ropes since it’s still considered Hypertensive crisis. She told me if it was still this high in 3 days to go to emergency and tell them to fix me because too many days of these readings have me squarely in heart attack / stroke territory. She gave me a diuretic which I have to admit made zero sense to me and told me to avoid coffee and salt for a few days. Being an obedient patient I did just that and of course being off work would also help to no end.
The next day we had the big end of year party for gymnastics which was an amazing night, seeing so many old friends and all the kids having fun was just what I needed and although for the next 4 days my BP remained very high on Boxing day my reading finally dropped into the 170s and then the 160s. So I am finally down into Hypertension stage 2 which wouldn’t normally be a cause to celebrate but in this case I think coming back from what I could conservatively call the brink of a cardiac event is a good thing.
But I am angry. So very angry. The rational part of my brain is crying out like that 11 year old boy I once was that this isn’t fair. I tell my girls every day that life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t take the sting away. You have to work to make it fair, I tell them. But what is supposedly better for your health than a literal lifetime of fitness and careful attention to diet? Sure, I have strayed in the past, there was a time in that picture top right that I was 300+ but it was only for a handful of years. It’s been 10 years since that, no sugar, no grains, strict adherence to diet, no drinking for 25 years, no smoking for at least 10 more so in the end I am left with the question “why me”.
There is no reasoning with disease. There is no bargaining with illness and when I consider those around me who are struggling with what are considered far more serious health issues I can’t help but feel selfish. But standing at death’s door, no matter if it is only a selfish perception makes you feel very, very lonely. I have one athlete who I am constantly telling “Stop worrying about things that haven’t happened yet” and it was that thought that really made me pull back and put things into perspective. I was doing what I could. I knew that in the past more cardio at the gym had helped in how I felt so I was facing up to that task too. I had all my tactics in place and so I was faced with the knowledge that with everything I was doing, I had to fix my attitude.
“Don’t worry…”
“Why not?”
“Because it doesn’t help”
– Dr Who.
So I am not worried. I am doing what I have been told and I am monitoring my situation. I am going to work today and I will have a professional take my BP again to see if my home readings are close to reality. In the end though I have to understand what caused this to happen and although it’s been a pretty hectic couple of months with the gym I would point my finger directly at my work situation. Complaining won’t help, so I won’t. Decisions have to be made and plans need to be laid if I am to prevent cutting years off my life for the sake of times gone by.
Why me? It doesn’t matter. I am dealing with facts and not allowing my emotional side to become involved because if I do, things will go downhill in a hurry. Disease doesn’t care so neither do I. I will fight this with the detachment of disease itself. I will kill it with the same impunity with which it takes lives. Although I have spent some time being truly terrified of the future I have decided that I will survive. I am not done yet.


On Being An Adult

I posted this on Facebook this morning but I can’t resist putting it here too. The last 2 in the list are my own personal addition.

You never really feel like an adult inside. I am still fumbling through life and making the best of it like I was at 15.

No matter how well you are prepared you never seem to have enough money, time, patience, sleep or emotional strength. You’ll fall short and that’s ok because you’re human.

There is no such thing as happily ever after. There is always something to overcome.

High school never ends for some people; there will always be cliques and groups.

There are adult bullies and they are everywhere.

You will get ridiculously excited for a house cleaning product like a new kitchen sponge. I tell everyone when I get a new sponge.

It is hard to make new friends. High school and college friends move away. Neighbours aren’t often as neighbourly as in the past.

Everyone says how can I help? But hardly anyone actually helps.

You will have your heart broken over and over by lovers, your kids, your friends whom you trusted, your employer, but it still keep on ticking.

Learn to live within your means. Just because your paycheck says you can afford something doesn’t mean you can actually afford it.

Time does not have to pass you by. We don’t have to get through the day just to pay the bills. Our lives are ours and we may spend our time as we choose.

Just because you can eat whatever you want whenever you want, ice cream still doesn’t make a good breakfast.

Your body and brain eventually fall out of alignment. Brain: what a fabulous idea! Body: I don’t think so buddy.

You need to take time to enjoy the little things. Sometimes they are all you get and they go by quickly.

Life is not like a TV sitcom or a big screen movie. Once the fun parts are over you have to cook, clean and go to work.

Your brain doesn’t age past 18-25 even though the rest of you does.  You still think like a young adult when you are in your 60s.

When you get to adulthood you will come across people with different opinions than you and however stupid they are they will honestly believe they are correct.

Don’t expect life to just sort itself out. There isn’t a perfect point where everything is solved, you will be struggling with life to the very end.

There are people out there who want you to fail. These people may be the closest ones to you or possibly a co-worker but they will gladly do anything to see you fail.

There is no summer vacation in adult life.

Nothing can prepare you for the daily urge not to get out of bed.

You won’t have all the answers and sometimes as an adult you will be scared, if not terrified of life.

Find a job that makes you happy not a job that makes you rich.

There is nothing that can prepare you for the first time your baby poops in the tub.

Eventually you reach your peak and you have to watch the next generation come along and shine.

Some people will always act like relationships are disposable.

Not all people in decision making roles should be there. Learn to judge the quality of other people’s decisions.

The people who are supposed to love you can be the same ones who let you down.

Most times there is nobody there to take care of you when you are sick.

You will never ever want to drive as much as when you are 16. Once you become an adult it becomes a chore and being a passenger is bliss.

Nobody gives a damn about your degree or AP grades when it’s time to pay the rent or the car bill

Learn to fix things that break, spending $200 for a plumber to replace a washer is a waste of money.

It’s OK to ask for advice even when you’re 40.

Just because you are a good person doesn’t mean good things will happen to you.

If you always wait for the right time you will waste your life away.

Life isn’t fair. Expecting it to be is naive and dangerous. You can make it fair but play by the rules.

It doesn’t matter if nobody will find out, your behaviour defines you and how much you respect yourself. Never do anything that goes against your own code of ethics.

The Right Idea!

From Joe Manganiello’s book “Evolution – The Cutting Edge  Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You’ve Always Wanted”


We live in a society that is headed in a frightening direction. It is rapidly becoming a culture that shields our fragile egos from failure. The result is a society of people who applaud potential instead of results, and a mentality of “good enough” rather than “better than ever.”
Our hypersensitive society has created a mentality that can’t handle failure. Whether you’re first or last, we preach “Good try!” instead of “Work harder.” We do it with everything, and we do it in the worst ways possible, such as with our health. We coddle ourselves, and it’s the reason why so many people think it’s okay to be overweight and out of shape. Or why so many have rationalized their inability to exercise and eat in a healthy way. You fail once and then tell yourself that something better isn’t a possibility.
The reality? You’ve been taught to quit at failure. You don’t smell success, because there’s no incentive to push forward. There’s no hurt, pain, or disappointment when you fall short. For you to evolve, that must all change.
The problem is apparent everywhere. Look no further than today’s youth. Children play sports games where goals aren’t counted and everyone gets a trophy at the end. I’m all for providing a nurturing environment for children to grow up in. Heck, almost all of the charity organizations I work with are designed to provide better lives for kids. But people need to be pushed—both externally and internally. That internal fire can never burn without some fuel, and that fuel can come in the form of disappointment, embarrassment, and even jealously. The poison, no doubt, is in the dose, as these traits are incredibly corrosive if held on to for extended periods of time, but if you can learn to convert them into positive actions, they can help you tremendously.
I benefitted from failure. I needed to feel it. I needed to sit in it. I needed to know what losing felt like, and I needed to get angry about it and never want to feel that way again. Without it, I would have been robbed of the lifeblood that has propelled me all these years later. It would have eliminated my opportunity to stand taller.
I hate failing, and, even worse, I hate admitting it. But at night, I can look at myself in the mirror and know that every time I did fail, it was the best thing for me. I got back up, devised a better plan of action, and went back with fire in my stomach for those who doubted me when I told them what I wanted to achieve, changes I desired to make, and who I wanted to become.
I issue that same challenge to you. I want you to look at your failures, embrace them, and immerse yourself in them. Then I want you to use that pain as fuel and set up this one seemingly simple goal: What can you change in a year?
I’m going to need you to accept nothing less than your best effort. You owe it to yourself to know, once and for all, how far you can go. I want you to look in that mirror and love what you see, inside and out. I want you to feel like you’ve earned your sleep at night.
All I ask is that you believe that what I’m telling you has worked for me and to do the footwork.


This Post Is Unrelated – Ford USB glitch

Yesterday my USB stick in the car stopped playing. Of course believing in the power of the internet I Googled it and found the solution as follows (which worked perfectly!):

So, I had a nice, shiny new ’08 Edge with the Sync system. I bought a USB thumb drive on which to store all of my music so I don’t have to drag my ipod in and out of the car. I loaded up my music, plugged it in, and itworked like clockwork.

Then, a couple days later, it stopped. The voice commands still worked, indexing was working fine, the radio even showed that it was playing my songs with the timer ticking away. But, there was no sound. After I tried everything I could think of (master reset on sync, re-formatting the usb drive, testing it with my ipod- which worked perfectly, testing the usb drive on my computer – which also worked perfectly, etc.) I gave up and called tech support. They told me that it was a known issue (phew), and I would have to take my car into the dealership to have them pull a fuse and replace it. They wouldn’t tell me which fuse, or where to find it.

Well, not wanting to take an hour out of my day for a simple problem, I cracked open the instruction manual. It lists fuse #3 (I think 15mA) for Sync. I opened up the fuse box, pulled that fuse, but it was fine. I popped it back in, and figured I’d give it a shot anyway. It WORKED PERFECTLY! It’s been a couple days now, and I haven’t had another problem.


1. Remove fuse box trim cover (inside the car, just in front of the driver side door, next to the parking brake), by sliding the unlock lever to the right, and then pulling the cover off. (Grab it from thetop and pull toward you).

2. Remove the fuse box cover (yeah, there’s another one). Squeeze the two latches on either side of the box (hard) and pull off.

3. Locate the proper fuse on the LEFT-MOST COLUMN, THIRD FUSE FROM THE TOP.

4. Use the fuse-grabber-thingy (technical term), that can be found on the inside of the fuse cover to remove the fuse.

5. Pop the fuse back in (make sure it’s not blown, mine wasn’t).

6. Put back the fuse-grabber-thingy, close both of the covers.

7. That’s it! Turn on the car, and your USB drive should be working again.

I hope this helps at least one person, and saves a little time and frustration! Let me know if there are any questions.


Forced Rest. Ten Days From Hell

I hate rest. I hate having to take time out to recover and recharge. I know the value, I just don’t enjoy it. So you can imagine my state of mind now after 10 days of forced rest due to my back being uncooperative. I am still not sure what it was that caused the problem, I am guessing it was something I did during bootcamp with the med balls but whatever it was really did a number on me. I still have what I would consider significant pain in my right hip capsule which may or may not be directly related but may also be coincidental and a factor of not beign able to stretch. Whatever the case, the next couple of weeks are going to be critical as I try to ease back to action and prevent any further damage.

I can’t remember the last time my back took this long to mend, I can only say it was a VERY long time ago and I am thoroughly unimpressed to the point where I have considered voluntary fusion surgery to prevent any further issues. Whatever I do, I still need to get back into action and that is going to be a delicate mix of activity, rest, stretching, mobility and sensibility.

10.10-11 – Rest Plus Bootcamp Weights


The rest day was a welcome break. I realize just how out of shape I am compared to when I was up at 70% participation, it’s amazing how a little bit of slacking off can make you feel like a lazy ass. Bootcamp day 2 was weights and heavy on the arms and shoulders since I was feeling a little lightweight in that area. The workout was good, but having a limited amount of dumbbells means that the participants aren’t quite getting the workout I want. I wish we had a bunch of 15lb dbs to use, it would really bridge the gap to the next level.

Anyway, here is what we did:

D2 – 4.1.2 Weights

Double Curls
Double Press
High pull
DB Thruster
Chin ups or turnarounds

Alt curls
Alt press
Front and Back Rolling Shrugs
Chin ups or hand turns

DB good mornings
Sitting shoulder press
dips no weight
dip hops
dips leg up each side

Shoulder raise side
Shoulder raise front
Shoulder raise side to front
Shoulder raise front with row

Sitting shoulder press
Weighted dips both weights
Weighted dips one weight
weighted dips no weight

Double Curls
Alt Curls
Outward curls
Hammer Curls
French Curls

Abs – 10 with DB, 20 free

in and out
full situp
russian twist


R9D68 – Vegas 2012

For the past few years my wife and I have travelled to Vegas with friends and in the beginning it was always a hedonistic trip through buffets and restaurants and for the other three, an alcohol soaked trip through toleranceville. As the years have passed we have learned how to use the Las Vegas Strip as a cardio event and now thanks to the Paleo diet being rolled out of buffets is a thing of the past. This trip it was nice and warm so we even got to spend time in the pool (we usually go during the colder months) and overall we had an amazing time. I did manage to squeeze in a bootcamp workout while I was there but the amount of walking that we did each day was more than enough to count for the daily burn so to speak. The food was fantastic, we did breakfast at Hash House A GoGo which I would recommend and other meals at P.F.Changs and BLT inside Mirage. We also had an excellent meal at Samba, the Brazilian Steakhouse in Mirage and while the atmosphere isn’t quite as energetic as Copacabana Steakhouse in Niagara Falls still the food was very good and the service was attentive. Despite the bad reviews for the Niagara location I still think it was the best Brazilian we have been to, the wait staff make it hard to love, but the food choices are unparalleled. The one good thing about Samba was that the food was not salty, just well grilled and well presented and with 8 choices you are hardly limited in what to eat.

Now it’s back to the grind, I have bootcamp class this evening and it is going to be tough to get over the lack of sleep even though I seem to remember doing a fair amount of napping during the weekend. It was great to get away, and from a fitness perspective, the break was welcomed with open arms.

R9 Forced Rest Week Plus Ranking The P90X Crew!

Last week for the first time in my life I experienced knee pain. It was not something I want to repeat and scared me a little thinking that maybe my trusty knees that have always been a source of pride for me may finally be showing some wear and tear. It was fortuitous then that I was forced to take several days off to run the scoring system at our Gymnastics meet over the weekend. Although it was very long hours and the stress was savage it was mostly off my feet giving my body a full rest of what is now 5 full days. I can’t remember the last time I took 5 days of complete rest but I think I probably needed it. I have been bugged by niggling injuries and a feeling of general malaise that I am hoping will have passed once I get back into my routine. Most importantly though, it gave my knees a rest from the jumping and squatting that seem to be very prevalent in my current training. I have noticed that all my recent posts are bootcamp posts which basically tells me that I was excluding my P90X2 and RKC workouts because I wasn’t able to make the grade physically. I also had noticed that it was harder and harder to get through the bootcamp workouts which I had suspected may have been a sign of overtraining.

So today I hope to enjoy a triumphant return to working out and I hope that my 5 days off will have cleared up any issues that I had. Time will tell, but I am definitely filled with a desire to get back to working out. As a reward I think I will start the PAP series now and make this phase 3 of round 9.

I read a great page online this morning which came from Tony himself via Facebook. It ranks the P90X workout cast from best to worst. Thanks to the folks at Jezebel.com for the laughs. Here’s the page.

Respect. Rolling With Punches.

What does it take to stick to your plan? I hear it all the time, what is your motivation? How do you keep going?

I think we all gain inspiration and motivation from many places, just look at Tumblr or Twitter for legions of people posting and forwarding inspiration to each other. It’s not difficult to find pictures of what you want, either what you want to be like or what you want to run from, but whatever you need to inspire you can be found with ease. The question is, what happens when that effect runs out? What happens when looking at another person’s six pack makes you angry or disappointed instead of motivated and driven? In that case you fall back on your character. It’s times like that when you find out what you are made of. We all get disappointed with ourselves sometimes. We eat something we shouldn’t, we take an extra day off when we should have stuck to our schedule. Sometimes it’s a choice, other times it’s just circumstance. What you do at that point will speak directly to your character.

I wrote a while back about the “getting knocked down” analogy that is used by many as a crutch to cover their own weakness but in the end, no matter if it is a bump in the road, a moment of weakness or a bona fide blindside your reaction will depend on who you are at your core and from where I stand loving yourself isn’t going to be enough. A lot of, let’s say, younger people seem to think that “acceptance” or “self-love” will see them through. They seem to imagine that accepting their weaknesses somehow makes them OK. I agree that some things you can’t change very easily, I don’t particularly like my nose, but I accept it. I don’t particularly like the fact I don’t seem to have a butt, but I accept it. Being fat and out of shape however is not something anyone should accept. It’s not a socially based acceptance thing either, it’s a health thing. Claiming that you love your body despite your obvious health risks is not the right thing to do. Rather than accepting yourself, work on committing to respecting yourself. By the way, the same goes for the other end of the weight scale. There are many out there who struggle at the light end of the scale, some with actual sickness, some with addiction and obsession but the same rules apply.

Loving something that is so obviously wrong but within your power to change is ridiculous.

Loving yourself is not enough, you need to learn to respect yourself.

Love is a double edged sword, ask anyone from a broken home or abusive family how they feel about love.

If you want to increase the quality of your life, then learn to respect yourself.

You can love yourself but it makes no demands.
You can love yourself but it implies no standards.
You can love yourself but it doesn’t drive change.

Respect expects performance.
Respect demands self-evaluation.
Respect requires constant improvement.
Respect allows you to be a role model for yourself and others.

Respect yourself and you will lead yourself to the place you want to be.

This week for me has been another forced rest. I have not been able to work out for 3 days, coaching, anniversary and sickness all contributing to my first 3 day break in months. But it’s OK. I’m not going to obsess over the time off, just enjoy the break and get back to work tonight.