Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

“Why would you want to do that?” I’m frequently asked when people hear I’m practising a handstand. “Well, why not?” is my flippant response. But there’s more to it than that.

I’ve spent years believing I couldn’t do physical activities; doing a handstand wouldn’t have entered my head. I don’t even remember doing them as a child. I certainly didn’t attend gymnastics club; it wasn’t for me - or so I understood.


As an adult I’d (eventually) joined a gym and worked with various personal trainers, with limited success. Then, a couple of years ago, I met the right coach. And what a revelation that was. I improved my fitness and, importantly, started to believe I could achieve anything if I worked for it. I may not be “naturally athletic” but I realised anything’s possible with practise.

With an improved mindset, I set about learning new physical skills. For the first time, fitness became fun. When I saw a workshop for beginners’ calisthenics advertised, I decided to give it a go. My enthusiasm was at a high.

Then, as the workshop approached…. bam, I was filled with self-doubt. I hit my first hurdle before I even started. Consumed by feelings of inadequacy, all my fears returned - I wouldn’t be able to do anything; I’d make a fool of myself; people would laugh at me …… the list of reasons I shouldn’t go went on.


But, bolstered by words of encouragement from my ever-supportive coach, I determined to honour my commitment and headed to the workshop. It still took me three passes of the door to pluck up the courage to enter! But enter I did. And so my handstand adventure began. I didn’t find it easy but I did have immense fun. I may have had limited success on the day but I did, with help, get upside down. And I was delighted.

Determined not to forget what I’d been shown, I set about practising some of the drills. I didn’t have the nerve to try an actual handstand but there was plenty I could work on. My ultimate goal of a handstand may have been a way off but I’d fallen in love with the process of getting there.

My next step became finding the confidence to handstand alone. If I couldn’t do this, I knew my opportunities for further development were limited. So, I went along to a second workshop. I left having again had a ton of fun, armed with more knowledge and, significantly, with more self-belief. And now I’m regularly found practising handstands in a commercial gym.


I still need a wall but I’ve worked up to being able (sometimes) to hold away from the wall for around five seconds. It doesn’t sound much but it’s a long way from where I started - and my handstand has better shape too.

In addition to learning the value of fitness being fun, I’m benefitting from the increased confidence I’ve gained. It’s very empowering being able to hold upside down  - and the added bonus is this extends to my life outside the gym.

I’ve still a long way to go to reach the vision I have in my head - but I’m fine with that because I’m having a ball trying.

Sunday 4th February 13:30 - 15:00

Learn how to transition from complete beginner to an up-side-down pro with our series of regressions to improve your balance and build your strength.

How to do a muscle-up

Despite considering myself fairly ‘fit’, I’ve always held this exercise on a pedestal. A very high one at that.

Although muscle ups now form part of my training regime, two years ago I saw it as a skill that is only reserved for Olympic gymnasts or people that possess Herculean strength. (I do not claim to possess either..!)


I decided to make it my goal to master the muscle up, the first road block was: where do I start?


I tried many times, arms flailing wildly, scrambling to try and push and pull my way up the rings without success and only very sore trapezius, triceps and biceps as a result. It was the transitional section of the move that perplexed me!

So in order to save you some time (and energy), here are the three pivotal things that helped me execute the muscle-up.


1. Maintaining tension through the core using the dish shape

it is very important to make sure that you are solid and stable by maintaining tension throughout the move utilising the dish shape. This enables you to transfer strength without any energy leaking from the body.


2. Keeping the rings close to the body

Because the rings are not fixed in position they will want to start drifting away from you when you start applying any downwards force. As soon as the rings start to move away from the body the more challenging it will become to execute the move.


3. Ensuring shoulder blades were down and back as I initiated the pull up

This made sure that the correct muscle were engaged throughout the movement and that other muscles were not having to compensate or do extra unnecessary work which lead lead to tweaks and sore necks for example   


I also found that making sure the fundamental movement patterns were refined along with drills focusing on the transitional section of the move. This was important for me to be able to progress through the plateaus I was experiencing. The cherry on top was having a knowledgeable eye to guide me through the process and spot the areas that required more work.


If you are experiencing issues with any of the above or would like to start training for muscle ups, I am hosting a Muscle-up workshop on 11th February. This workshop will be helpful for those who:

  • Have hit a plateau with their muscle-up training

  • Can’t seem to transition into the top of the movement

  • Have spent too long flailing wildly on the rings

In 90-minutes I am going to coach you through every single stage of the movement from start to finish so you can master it yourselves.

Sunday 11th February