Gymnastics Challenge

As part of our new year goals we decided to give ourselves a monthly challenge – something completely out of our comfort zone that would push us to learn new things and test our bodies in ways we haven’t before. Gymnastics skills are a large part of Crossfit and something both of us are new to so we took a trip down to Crossfit Green in Sandyford to meet and train with Ornagh Lee of More Chalk.

Ornagh is the head coach at Crossfit Green and head Gymnastic Coach at CSP and is widely regarded as being the premier CrossFit specific Gymnastics coach in Ireland. As well as being an active CrossFit competitor Ornagh regularly helps some of the best CrossFitter’s in the country hone their Gymnastics skills through her personal training, workshops and remote service ‘More Chalk.’ Ornagh is the only coach in Ireland that has a CrossFit Gymnastic Level 2 and has a background in competitive gymnastics. She has learned from some of top gymnastic and movement coaches in the world including Dave Durante, Sean Velas and Maddy Curly but to name a few.

The warm welcome that greeted us immediately put us at ease and Ornagh explained Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.30.38 PMthat she would be taking us through a handstand class – the fundamental gymnastics move. Before we started Ornagh took us through some important warm up drills explaining that to be able to hold a handstand firstly our wrists, hands and ankles need to be warmed up and flexible, we learnt how to get our bodies in the correct handstand position holding 10kg plates over our heads and ‘pushing up’ whilst keeping our bodies engaged (harder than it sounds) we then moved to the wall…

Handstand against wall:

For those of you who are thinking ‘its just a handstand I used to do them all the time when I was like 7’ – yeah I thought that too..things have changed..alot! Ornagh taught us how to approach the handstand so we were setting ourselves up for success and then was there to catch us as we did the first stage of handstand against a wall. Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.30.46 PMOrnagh’s TOP TIP we learnt here – if you want to learn how to hold a handstand without a wall you actually should not practise against a wall – people tend to bend their bodies and lean into the wall using it as a support or dont control the handstand knowing that the wall will ‘catch them’ so when they try freestanding they either topple over or dont get up at all. The best way to learn is using a crash mat or a buddy – or even better both! While practising this Ornagh was constantly re-aligining us helping us ‘feel’ the correct body position to be in for a freestanding handstand.

Freestanding handstand hold:
After a good 20 minutes of prep including learning how to tumble onto a crash mat Ornagh got us ready to try our freestanding handstand hold. This is where every little tip and technique Ornagh had shown us really needed to come into play – and where any weaknesses we had were exposed. From the moment I walked into the class I needed to get out of my head and be more confident, Ornagh relaxed me and built my confidence in the first 10 minutes and that showed in my freestanding handstand – I suprised myself by getting into it easily and holding it – for a SECOND (this was a big deal to me!) Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.30.56 PMJayne was the exact opposite – not a fear at all and launching into the handstand – in fact so little fear that her first freestanding attempt was actually a back-flip and Ornagh pulled back Jayne’s launch so that by her next one she could get up without flipping over and then stay up too. We got to practice alot and every time Ornagh would call out a little tip or technique we needed to tweak to get it right, she didnt miss a thing – even noticing weaknesses in old shoulder injuries we both have.

Ornagh then went on to teach us some fun ‘flips’ and finished the class with great stretches and advice on mobility and strength.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.31.04 PM

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