Learning the Gymnastics Ropes


Gymnastics stands in the middle of Greg Glassman’s pyramid, and by reinforcing it in your Box you will ensure your members are becoming well-rounded athletes.

You can’t learn everything on your own, however. There is no way to become an expert in a field overnight, so utilizing seminars and trainings can aid in coaching your athletes.

Jeff Giosi, owner of CrossFit Morgantown, said the Power Monkey Camp is what changed his outlook on gymnastics. While he knew its importance, it wasn’t until this camp he truly understood the need to learn specific skills.

“I’ll be honest with you – that opportunity changed me as an athlete, and more importantly as a Coach, in regards to gymnastics,” said Giosi. “What I was able to take away from that and apply to the way I do programming has changed every aspect we have in this gym. Even the way they teach the principles. In the sport of CrossFit, we see so many people trying to learn skills that may be above their current level, and not realizing it’s a progression, and you need to tackle beginning steps first. Educate yourself on the movements and the movement progressions to get to the bigger movement. This is cliché but I believe it’s true — no one gets hurt doing CrossFit. They get hurt because of poor movement patterns.”

Ryne Sullivan, a Coach at CrossFit NOLA, explained he has learned through mistakes what works and what doesn’t. While training can be helpful, Sullivan said it is hard to understand what can happen in a class until you start one.

“First, just start putting [gymnastics] in the class programming,” said Sullivan. “You are always going to make mistakes with programming, but having it as part of the class is always better than not. Do research to ensure you understand the movement patterns you are after. Trying to teach something that is over your head can be a frustrating endeavor for both a Coach and a client. Further, continue to look through the Internet and attend certifications to enhance your knowledge of the movements.”

Over at DogTown CrossFit, they dedicate an hour every Wednesday for their gymnastics class, focusing on technique and strength building for bodyweight movements. Co-owner and head gymnastics Coach Dusty Hyland explained the need for a sole gymnastics class apart from the regular class programming is vital. What you learn in that class can carry over to any other class and make you an all-around athlete.

“Gymnastics is foundational to CrossFit because it teaches technique based on the physiology of the human body and skill development,” said Hyland. “The ‘whys’ behind the method of training artistic gymnastics are specific and have huge carry over. We take the best of that world and use it in coaching.”

Giosi explained a good first place to start when aiming to learn more about the gymnastics aspect of CrossFit is the Internet. People are constantly updating blogs, social media sites and forums with things they have learned, so Giosi suggested this route if paying for training just isn’t something you can swing right now.

“In 2016 there’s so much information out there on social media sites,” said Giosi. “I default to CrossFit Gymnastics all the time and pick up skills from them, different complexes to work on such as progression of toes-to-bars, progression of press to handstands. Things we don’t typically see in competitions, but are going to be pieces that increase our handstand locks or our handstand push-ups just because we have better kinesthetic awareness and our bodies can be in a better position.”

Gymnastics is different from an average CrossFit class due to the pace. Things go a little slower, and workouts aren’t usually for time. This gives everyone involved the chance to watch themselves and others to aid in each other’s training.

“Gymnastics allows for technique refinement in both unfatigued and slightly fatigued environments,” said Sullivan. “This creates the ability for transfer into the WODs. We aim to move virtuously in the gymnastics class and since the class is done at a slower pace, we are able to get more cueing in for each individual to allow for technical adaptations.”

Kaitlyn is a staff writer for Peake Media. Contact her at kaitlync@peakemedia.com.