Learning From Your Hard Work
We recently wrapped up a 4-week handstand walk-specific Momentum class here that I was fortunate enough to take part in. Throughout, I was definitely able to see progress in the handstand skills we were working on (thanks, Tommy!), but the realizations I had about the learning process itself were something I hadn't anticipated as much. Since these thoughts wouldn't do anyone any good if I kept them to myself, I thought I'd organize them a bit so you too can think a little deeper on the ups and downs of your own learning.
We aren't always best served by working on our end goal. While breaking down tricky maneuvers into more easily digestible steps is common in complex barbell lifts, we'd all benefit very much from taking the same approach in how we address other challenging new feats.
For me, I actually needed to spend less time working on walking on my hands, and more time in a tight handstand against the wall, really nailing down the position required to control my walkin'. Before this cycle began, constantly kicking up and getting as far as I could gave me the illusion of success (because technically I was working on the skill), but it wasn't until I was coached (forced?!) into working on the basics that I truly made strides.
Don't underestimate the value of simple strength work. It's way too easy to think of skill-based movements as something that are learned by practice only. While there's an element of truth to this, it's certainly not the whole story.
There were skills that I needed to get better at, for sure, but I also needed to build strength up in my static handstand to be able to work most productively on the more technical elements of walking. Whether this means further developing your strict pull-up before you kip, being able to comfortably overhead squat before you begin expecting Snatching to look good, or mastering a simple push-up before you're concerned with ring dips, please, don't shy away from work on some basic strength as a part of your advances—even when it feels mundane!
Your progress is relative to you. I cannot emphasize this one enough. It's the nature of working in groups that some people move along more quickly than others, but if we set the expectation that we're not making progress unless it looks like what our neighbor is doing, we're sure to overlook the actual steps forward we take.
While I was generally able to feel progress from week to week in this class, I wasn't always able to keep up with what other folks were doing. This doesn't mean I wasn't getting better! The solution? Know where you are when you begin something new so you see the progress you're making when it happens! Those dang comparisons actually only serve to discourage.
Last, the road isn't always a linear path. It's natural to think that because work is being done that things should always feel/get better, but this just isn't the case. Chart your progress over the course of your efforts—not just from week to week or session to session—and be patient with yourself in the quest for advances.
There was one week in particular where I was convinced I was getting worse. I realized in my head the hilarity in my mindset, but it was still hard to shake the feeling of regressing. Instead of listening to the voice that was telling me that my efforts were becoming futile, I did what I would tell anyone else to do: I took the good with the bad and kept moving forward.
We are not the kind of gym that treats people like hamsters on a wheel; we exist to actually help you be better. With that, though, can come real frustration. We're not going to let up, but we also need you to know that you're not alone in this thing and that we've always got your back along the way. Frustrated? Straight up pissed?! (haha, I know how that feels) Get in touch! We're always here to help and couldn't be happier to assist in getting you where you want to go.