So.... this is awkward. My last update was in May 2018. (Insert cringing awkward emoji here.) Needless to say, things have changed. In a very short amount of time, all of this happened:
But gymnasts? Nah, gymnasts are used to this stuff. Being a gymnast is an experience of near constant disappointment (don't stop reading, this is a positive post I promise). You're never good enough for yourself. You're always just ONE toe point away from beating someone else (or losing to them), from making the national team (or not), from whatever it is a that a toe point separates you from. And it's hard. In a sport filled with awards for perfection, Code of Points level of judgment, and physical and psychological injury... it's almost hard for non-gymnasts to fathom that YES, on top of all of that, sometimes it gets worse.
So what's the difference between being down and out and hitting the ground running? Contrary to popular belief, it isn't a question of how you handle it. Do you break, do you cry, do you give up, yell, fight, scream, all of the above? NOPE, it's not a question of how you react because YES, you do all of those things. Gymnasts are (on some level) humans, too. The question, then, isn't "How did you react?", it's "Did you keep going after the fact?" And for a lot of us, superhuman gymnast or not, it's really, really hard to keep going.
But thankfully, this isn't a sad story. This is a happy one! After a few months of struggling to make sense of what happened and feeling like I lost gymnastics all over again, I met the CEO of our local YMCA and said, "Hey, we should start a gymnastics program." And shockingly, he agreed. Fast forward to Spring of 2019 and we had started the first gymnastics program at this YMCA in almost 30 years. It was very modest set up with its initial success being entirely dependent on me running from my full-time job to the Y to jump up and down for a couple hours to try to engage kids that had never done a gymnastics class before. It was A LOT of work. It was exhausting and a huge difference from coaching team gymnastics, but it reminded me of two really important things: 1) I love gymnastics and 2) I love teaching gymnastics.
And so that's the long story! Now, we're just kicking off the Fall session with brand new equipment and a thriving program. I couldn't be happier or prouder to be working with the YMCA to bring gymnastics into the life of kids who would otherwise never get the opportunity to try this wonderful sport. With so many wonderful, amazing, fantastic gymnastics-related successes I've had, the work I'm doing at the YMCA is easily one I'm most proud of. So stay tuned... we've got some really exciting stuff coming out of the work of GymnastiCity and my never-ending pursuit of making gymnastics my entire life.
Thank you for your support!
- Coach Ashley
It's been awhile since I've updated this, so I thought I'd give a quick note on where I'm at. On March 16th, I fell doing a double back and injured my back. Several doctors, chiropractor, x-rays, hours of ice, and two months later, and the injury has failed to improve leading the doctors and I to the unfortunate conclusion that I have stress fracture in one of my vertebrae. After trying to train on a broken back for the past two months, it's time to take a break (no pun intended). I have 4-6 weeks of NO gymnastics or hyper extension of my back, but I can continue to condition, stretch, swim, bike, and do light cardio. WAY less exciting than gymnastics, but I am relieved that I am permitted to exercise in some shape or form. Last time I broke my back, I was in a custom made hard back brace and literally sentenced to sitting for 4 months. So I consider myself very lucky this time around! That being said, I will be taking it easy until mid June. My mom always used to remind me that some things are blessings in disguise, and even though I'm not thrilled about the temporary setback, if I had to pick a time to get hurt and have to take time off, this is not the worst. I have plenty of time til season starts and I'll hit the gym harder than ever when I return. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's making a comeback. :)
In other news, I'm back in the gym coaching again and very happy about that. If I'm restricted from doing gymnastics, the next best thing is teaching it. We have a quick 5 week session with my team prep girls and team tryouts starting on May 19th!
Stay tuned and thanks
Does anyone else feel like 2018 is off to a crazy start?! I've got some really exciting news to announce in the next few weeks, but for now, here's a brief update on how it's all going.
No huge changes to report, but some really good stuff is happening. After injuring my back, I am continuing to leave Vault on the back burner. On Bars I added a Healy twirl to the blind, front giant combo which will soon be connected to a Pak. Beam saw some serious progress with the addition of back handspring layout step outs on floor, onodis on high with mats stacked, round off layout dismounts, standing back tucks on low, and all around more confidence. Floor continues to beat my body up but it hasn't slowed me down too much. I flipped double tucks and double pikes on Tumbl Trak and even tried some off the rod floor. Had a bit of an unhappy landing on Friday that jolted my back and now I am forced to take it easier, focus on building core strength and developing flexibility. Since I've broken my back before (11 years ago!), taking it easy on this one is unfortunately not optional. It's not glamorous and it's not as much fun as doing skills, but it was definitely a sign that I need to make sure I'm taking the time and putting in the hours dedicated to strength in order to prevent injuries and setbacks.
I knew it was inevitable that I would experience injuries at some point in my adult gymnastics endeavor, and I'm reminded of the emotional stress that it puts on you to be unable to do the thing you love. But I'm also reminded of that little gymnast who never gave up and pushed herself even harder. I'm no spring chicken, but I'm still that gymnast. And though patience has never been my strong suit, I don't have the pressure of a club level gymnast with so much of their future riding on their performance. I have the one thing that almost no gymnast has: time. So I have to remind myself to breathe, take a break, and remember how lucky I am that I get to do what I love every day. And that if I take the time to do it right, I can do it for a whole lot longer than if I rush things.
And on that note, I'm off to California on Thursday for a week of sun and relaxation!
Thank you for reading!
Great news! After talking with the coaches at another gym, I now have a place to train! Which means I've been so busy flipping that I haven't had much time to post. So here's a quick update!
With the huge weight of not knowing where I would train finally off my shoulders, I'm able to start putting together lesson plans and actually set reasonable goals. I have access to the gym Monday, Wednesday and Saturday so I spend those days training for about 2 hours (or as long as I can last!). Off days I try to do something to cross train: run with the dog, swim, weight machines, etc. And every single day I try to do oversplits and a basic core complex. It's a lot of work and a lot of time, and some days I can barely walk, but the process has been so much fun and so worth it.
Here's the update on skills:
I don't have access to a table with a pit and I'm not ready to flip without that so this update is kind of boring. Vault seems to do the most damage to my body so I'm working on building up my strength before tackling the event. More on this later!
And that's what's up! I'll post as much as I can to keep this thing updated, but if you don't hear from me, you know where I'm at. ;)
Thanks for reading!
So the last time I checked in, I was having a little trouble finding a place to practice. Despite my ambition, I forgot that the whole world (ESPECIALLY gymnastics facilities) almost totally shuts down over the holidays. Needless to say, I wasn't able to train as much I intended. While slightly disappointed, I am trying very hard not to be discouraged by it. I have a meeting with another gym this Saturday which I am so hoping will result in having a steady training schedule and thus, an opportunity to create lesson plans and focus on my long term goals. As it is right now, the time that I have access to a gym is so scarce that I have to simply cram in whatever I can into a half an hour here and there. Read: no warm-up, no stretching, no conditioning; just go, do and keep going. It's not ideal, but more importantly, it's not a safe way to train, and I know that. I will not reach my goals if I'm rushing my training, skipping fundamentals, and not focusing on developing my strength and flexibility. These are top priority. So wish me luck with the new gym and I'll post an update after my meeting.
In the meantime, I've been incredibly busy with (not only my full-time job, coaching, life, etc, etc, etc) my website, GymnastiCity. I am proud to announce that since founding this project in late November, I have almost 500 clubs listed in my directory, making this the largest centralized space for USAG club directories you can find. In addition to pursuing this endeavor, I've expanded my services to offer web design specifically for clubs. I am so busy and having so much fun with this project; it has been so rewarding to receive the overwhelming positive feedback these clubs are providing and it encourages me that I'm on to something here. When people ask me why on Earth I am spending my free time creating an entirely free directory for each and every one of these teams, the answer is always the same: I love gymnastics!
Most recently, I will be expanding into the world of college recruits in the hopes that I can help some of these amazing young gymnasts achieve their dream of competing for a college team and more importantly, so they can keep doing gymnastics! And we all know how I feel about that, right? :)
So much more to come... thank you for reading!
It goes without saying that there are a lot of constraints when it comes being an aspiring adult competitive gymnast. The biggest of course is that gymnastics can't be your whole life like it was when you were a kid. No, you've got your whole life and then gymnastics is squeezed into your schedule wherever it fits. But it doesn't end there. Limited access to facilities is the other huge barrier. As it is right now, I have maybe 3 hours of usable gym time per week which is simply not enough. The hardest part about this is that it has nothing to do with my ability to gymnastics. I am willing and able, but so very limited by something outside of my control.
As frustrating as this is as an adult gymnast, this is the situation for many gymnasts out there. Just look at the plight of Men's gymnastics and collegiate programs. If you haven't checked out my site yet, GymnastiCity was originally created to establish a single directory of all of the USAG clubs in America. But since I've started, I've realized that gymnastics has a much farther reach than just USAG. There's the AAU, NAIGC, USAIGC, and so many different leagues, associations, federations dedicated to encouraging people to keep doing gymnastics. And that's what I'm all about! So in the spirit of being a gymnast without a gym, I am making it my mission to change that. Please continue to check back, read my blog, and by all means support gymnasts who are following their dreams.
Now give me a second... gotta find a gym that can host me. :)
Thanks for reading!
With the girls competing this weekend, I didn't have a ton of time to get into the gym so today was my only real chance to practice. I didn't realize how tired I'd be just from standing (and stressing out) for their whole meet, but I did get some stuff done. I mainly worked on choreo for my floor routine - which wow, do I need to build up my endurance or what? I also did some bar work - front giant on high bar was much scarier than anticipated but now that I've done it once, I got it. Also built up the mats to get some release work in.
Here's a straddle back - you should have seen my first attempts! They got a bit better at the end.
And here's a Pak salto. I competed this for my last season as a Level 10 competitive gymnast and I swear I touched my feet on the catch at every single meet. In fact, at State, my coach Lisa said she'd give me a puppy if I didn't touch my feet and against all odds, I didn't touch my feet. Lisa, you owe me a puppy. :) At any rate, it's a big goal of mine to be able to compete a Pak in my routine and NEVER touch my feet at a competition.
Thanks for reading!
Well, okay - it's not meet season for me just yet, but my little ones are heading into their first meet of the season this Saturday at the Gymnastics on the Grand Invitational hosted by GRG and we're super excited about it. Okay, probably mostly just me is excited about it. :)
It's funny how your perspective on competitions can change if you're lucky enough to spend enough time in the sport. When I was a kid, I wouldn't let my parents film anything, I didn't want anyone cheering for me, I just wanted to do my thing and be done with it. Despite my mom telling me that everyone was only watching their kid, I was hesitant to believe her - especially when I ate it on a Pak salto at States and I learned that everyone was, in fact, watching. But for the most part, I believed I was in my own little world and my gymnastics was none of anyone's business, except the judge.
After a few years passed and countless injuries prevented me from competing, my perspective on competing changed. I was so honored and excited to be able to show off my hard work in a competitive arena. I realized just how rare and special it was to be able to do what I could do and I also realized how limited my opportunities to experience this were becoming. People who saw me perform or even just practice would comment on the pure joy I had while doing gymnastics. And it made me so happy that through all the injuries, the heart breaks, the disappointments, people could still see how much I loved to do what I did.
As the little ones get ready to compete for the first time this year (and many of them for the first time ever!), I wish I could convey to them just how lucky they are to be able to compete. What an honor it is to be able to show your parents, your teammates, your coaches all the of the hard work you've put into this. Because while having a bad meet feels like a big deal, it's not. But having the amazing opportunity to be able to compete at all is one of the biggest deals there is for a gymnast.
So enjoy it, silly!
GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF THE GYMNASTS COMPETING THIS WEEKEND AT GRG!
So in a tragic update error, my ailing Macbook Pro is toast along with everything on it. Not a huge deal except my old floor music was on there and I have not been able to locate another copy of it. Nor do I have any idea what it might have been called. So I spent the morning cutting my new music which is Linkin Park "Faint". In Level 9, your routine has to be a minute and 30 seconds and obviously no words, so it took a little effort, but here it is!
I'm planning on pulling the majority of my choreo from my last routine but to be honest, I don't remember much of it. So let's add choreographing to the list of things I have to do to be ready to compete. Why not, right? I obviously don't have enough to do. ;)