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Gymnastics/age and fear

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Question
Hi Robert,

I have been searching for a new challenge to get me back into fitness (have been off for months).  In March, I took a few adult gymnastics classes near my work.  I found it very challenging, invigorating, and difficult.  My upper body is really weak.  Anything requires wrist, forearms, and shoulders I could not do (yet).  Also, I never realized how inadequate my core was until these classes (I have never taken gymnastics before).

Here are my questions:

1. age
I am over 50. I had frozen shoulder once (right side) and a serious bout of herniated disc and sciatica (right leg) in 2007.  Other then these, my body is intact.  Because I am not a trained ballet dancer or fond of yoga, I don't have that level of flexibility. Am I too old really?  If not, Should I work on getting my upper and core strong before I go back to take classes?  Should a one on one (private coaching) be better for a old lady beginner like me?  

2. fear
I have a great deal of trepidation attempting forward and back roll, even with a coach standing by.  I watched and watched many YouTube clips on how to do these and I bought a tumbling mat, I still can't get thru with it on my own.  I am afraid of my arms and shoulders not being able to support the dynamic movement when kicking off.  I am afraid that I would kick up than forward.  I am afraid to land on my neck.  Is it irrational???

Thank you for taking the time to read my questions and answer.

Answer
Hi Serena,
It's great to hear about your interest in gymnastics!  See my responses below to your questions:

1) Age is not a determining factor, but it will take some time for you to get your body conditioned well enough to be safe doing gymnastics.  There are some great courses (designed for adults) at www.gymnasticbodies.com which you might want to look into (most of which you can do at home).

2) That is a valid concern.  I've seen many little kids do exactly what you described, but they don't get hurt because they are light enough to balance briefly on their head without injury.  I would recommend starting forward rolls down an inclined mat (like a wedge) to help with the rotation, and backward rolls not until later.  But before doing this it is important to spend time conditioning, the link I shared above has many progressions that will help with this.

Regards,
Robert

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Robert Davis

Expertise

I can answer questions about technique, strength and endurance training, healing from injuries, and competitions. I can also answer questions from parents of gymnasts, as I have six children of my own now. I plan to write a freely downloadable ebook or guide soon, go to www.LifeTimeGymnast.com to tell me what you want help with!

Experience

I competed in gymnastics for 16 years, from age 8 to 24, the last six of those years on the Arizona State Men's Gymnastics Team (www.sundevilgymnastics.com). After almost a 10 year hiatus I've returned to competition, see www.lifetimegymnast.com.

Publications
http://www.lifetimegymnast.com
http://www.goodfeelingplace.com
http://www.wilycode.com

Education/Credentials
I have a BSE and MS in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University. During those 6 years I was a member of the Arizona State Men's Gymnastics Team as well.

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