If you’ve tried something new even once in your life, you might be familiar with falling flat on your face, possibly literally.
In this episode, Ryan chats with David ‘Jacko’ Jackson and Tim Stevenson, founders of School of Calisthenics. They talk in-depth about how they developed their philosophy of “redefining your impossible” by exploring your physical potential through body weight training.
Jacko and Tim share their stories and thoughts on:
- why play might be more the most important thing you can do
- how breakthroughs in your training apply to your life
- how to start working on hand balancing on your own
- why humour and community are key
If you want insight on how to reframe something that feels out of reach, this is an episode you definitely want to stick in your ear hole.
- School of Calisthenics Website / YouTube / Instagram
- Strength, Play and Conditioning Programmes
- Learn the Whole Handstand Process Video
Ryan: [00:00:00] Hey everybody. What’s up. Welcome to the Great Mood Behavior show. So today kind of different from our typical show. Brought on a couple of guests, very excited to have them here.
We have David Jackson and Tim Stevenson from the School of Calisthenics. These guys are awesome. Let’s get right into the show.
How are you guys doing?
Tim: [00:00:22] We’re doing great. We’re in a great mood behavior, is that what you said?
Redefining Your Impossible
Ryan: [00:00:26] I love what you guys do, and I’m really happy that we have an opportunity to talk here. We’re going to get a little bit into depth in terms of your background, things like that, but the School of Calisthenics, I love what you guys have written here. Your purpose is to help people to explore their physical potential through bodyweight training and in the process redefine your potential or redefine your impossible, pardon me.
We’ve got tons to dive into, but first off I want to hear a little bit about your students. So tell me something really cool about your students, like something recently where you were teaching something, you’re just like, wow, this was really cool. Or something that was really inspiring you that you saw.
Jacko: [00:01:08] We’ve got a number of stories. Like our student profile always surprises us, where we can have everything from like our oldest student Graeme is 73 years old now I think.
And then, we get less, so the younger, you still will get your 16, 17 year, 18 year olds getting excited about it and, the things that people achieve in the period of time they do. And in the nicest possible way, there’s times where you go, just seeing someone do a ring muscle-up and I know we say redefine impossible, but I thought that might be impossible a bit like do you know what I mean in terms sounds like you just weren’t even that good at normal pull-ups when you first started.
Often one of the things we get asked a lot is, “Oh, how long will it take me to achieve my goal of a human flag?” And I was like, and he’s “I know you can’t say exactly, but like, how long ?” Well… it depends on so many different things. And that’s actually not even the point. The point is what you’re going to learn during the journey. When we get messages back from people, what they notice and they see that the essence of it, yes, we love doing calisthenics, handstands, human flags, all these different things in exploring our physical potential.
But when it transcends and impacts all areas of your life that it changed, you’ve redefined impossible. It changes your mind as to believing that you can achieve so much more in all areas of your life – training is just the vehicle that teaches you to do that. When you start off doing these things, you don’t expect it, but when people are, feeding back to you, like this has changed my life because of how I used to think about my body, how I used to train.
It’s all changed now with the help of this as a vehicle to do that. And I think that’s the most impactful thing. Tim, have you got any like specific ones that jump out to you or anything to add?
Tim: [00:02:42] Oh no, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. I see myself as like an average Joe, in this kind of space . I’m not from a gymnastics background, I rocked into this with some shoulder problems, and I love seeing other average Joes just do cool stuff, and just buzzing off it.
And it’s become far less about all the hard stuff you can do in bodyweight training and calisthenics. It’s more about just what I don’t care if it’s your first pull-up or your first pushup, that means equally as much to me as you doing a straddle planche, because it still is relative to the individual and that people are, they get so much satisfaction out of it. But we’re blessed to have an incredible group of people in our community that are super positive, super supportive.
And I love the fact that we’ve now got this network of people who have connected on their own levels, like we’ve been a conduit, but they’re in Atlanta and down South in the UK and in South Africa, and they’re now having their own conversations and supporting themselves and we’ve actually now moved to a place where we’re doing something or facilitating a conversation and a general kind of common point for people to engage in support each other, which I think is just, that’s probably the biggest thing that I think we’ve actually achieved.
Jacko: [00:03:47] That’s made me think of a specific actually for you where this week I had, it might have actually been last week, but I think Marissa was her name but was relatively new to our online platform and she had some questions specific that she was working on. She wanted to do a human flag and she was really struggling with a tuck position and she had some specifics around “Me as a female, does that make much difference for my training for you as a guy?”
And I was like, you know what? The best person to answer this is not me. And I got two bad-ass ladies, Trude and Amy who was able to just connect those three via email, and then they then have their own supportive conversation and actually getting advice from some of our longstanding members that I’ve… been there, been through that, but equally can relate to them… I don’t know what it is like to be a female, unfortunately.
As Tim said, that’s a nice example. That was literally last week where, it felt good to connect them, even though I didn’t end up really having to do anything other than just connect them.
Ryan: [00:04:40] I got to say , just sitting here, listening to you guys, I was really excited to talk with you because we just relate on so many different levels. And it’s something that really shines through is how humble you guys are in terms of, like you said, just the average guy and thing is with your backgrounds or your former professional with rugby and your background is strength and conditioning, things like that, but what you were just talking about, it’s the same as me.
It’s not about you two, which is the thing which I love, it’s about the community. And it’s about what you guys can do to help other people, and that’s why I just really was excited. One of the big things about talking with the two of you, because I can just see that.
And speaking of community, you guys have got a lot of people that follow you and you’re putting out some fabulous content. Heck, your Instagram is, you’re just killing it on Instagram, which is really great to hear, and I know it’s just like whatever and that kind of thing.
And you guys probably don’t really care too much about that, same with me, but the thing is, it’s really cool to see so many people being a part of that. And you guys having that community, being able to look beyond just what’s right in front of you two and seeing that other people are benefiting from this and sharing what you’re doing and spreading. And you have people within your immediate group that is able to reach out just beyond two dudes, and look at being able to help all these different people and keeping it fun and play.
The Importance of Play
Ryan: [00:05:59] And this is the next topic actually that I want to jump into if you guys are cool with this and that’s something that’s also very similar to what we do and that’s the concept and the importance of play. And I know that you guys, that you incorporate the science of play, you’re really looking at the science of that, using it in your training and the science, as far as motor learning and learning new skills.
And so I’d like for you to talk a little bit about how that’s so important, as adults coming into the calisthenics world and just the movement world in general and looking at, longevity not just within the body, but also within the brain, if you will.
Tim: [00:06:35] I love this subject. This is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. You’re right on point Ryan with the play aspect of what we do being a massive central part of it before we get into detail of what I think now, I’m just going to say what I thought about when we first started, because it’s where most people are going to begin.
You get on this journey of exploring something and you start to get interested, so therefore you understand it more, but it hit us hard when we first started playing around with calisthenics is we were just having a good time. We were having fun. I didn’t know about a lot of the stuff that we now talk about at that stage, but it was Jacko and I in the gym, try to do some hand balancing and to do a human flag, just basically messing about and in a way that we’d never done before.
And Jacko had been a professional rugby player for 13 years, I’ve been in strength and conditioning for a long time at that point, so I’ve done training. I could do an Olympic lift, you can do all that sort of just general gym stuff but calisthenics was something entirely different.
I’d never felt that freedom to move and play and explore in a way that I had done when we started going with calisthenics because to us there was no rules. We didn’t really look at a lot of other people’s content to find out what we were supposed to do.
I quite like that problem solving nature. So as a movement professional, you’re like I’m just going to work out how to do a handstand because I enjoy the process of picking it apart, but we were just having a laugh and I talk about we mention this all the time, but this girl came over to us in the gym and she said, “What are you boys doing? Because it looks like you’re just pissing about,” and we were like, “Yeah, that’s what we’re doing.”
Ryan: [00:07:58] That’s about it.
Tim: [00:07:59] And we’re like two naughty school boys.
Jacko: [00:08:01] I’ve not heard you use that phrase before Tim to explain this story again there weren’t any rules. There weren’t any rules because it wasn’t serious. We weren’t doing it because we were, I wanted to try and start the School of Calisthenics or whatever. It was genuine, like, we wanted to do something a bit different and we were just having a bit of a laugh.
There was no, yeah, there was no pressure, at no point did we go, how’s it going to take us to do this thing? And you’re like, I don’t even really know what I’m doing. I’m just having a bit, I’m just playing about.
Tim: [00:08:25] That’s play for no specific purpose, that’s what it is.
And we would literally, our workouts, if you want to call them a workout our play sessions were like, I don’t know, let’s go to the gym for an hour. And when I get bored of doing this thing, I can’t do it anymore I’m going to go and do something else and that’s how kids play and that’s how they learn.
And what we did is we played and we gave ourselves a freedom to play and we learn a whole lot in the process. And then we probably made it really boring by making it science focused.
Because we try and go back to the idea of create. We’ve just done like a full, we had another second UK or English lockdown, over the coronavirus and we just we put on a playtime, we called it playtime live and we did two sessions a week, middle of the day for people just to come on and we’ve just done an hours live Jacko and I on Zoom.
Just go and play with this movement and play with that because I think there’s so much value of getting away from this boring state that the fitness industry has found itself in, of the same old stuff all over and over. And I know you talk about this Ryan, but repetition of the same patterns.
We are nowhere near exploring all the great things that you can do with your body by just doing dead lifts. And I’m not, I’m not anti-deadlifts, it’s just an example of one way that people do a lot of, or squats or whatever it might be.
Ryan: [00:09:36] So fabulous and I’m trying to stay quiet to be honest, because there’s so much, I could say to jump in here, but I want to really just make it about the two of you, but again, this is why I was so excited to speak with you two. It’s because this could turn into a three hour conversation with us, ripping back and forth and just having fun.
The concept of play. So let’s go a little bit deeper here if that’s cool. And GMB and the people who are listening here, they know my thoughts on play and how I like to do things.
What is that? We know what it means to you guys in terms of playing and having fun, but how do you go about doing it? I know it sounds silly, but let’s be honest. It’s like that question and I love that you guys brought this up because it no longer drives me crazy when people ask me how long it’s going to take to get a particular skill, because I’m used to it, I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, but the thing is, it’s like the same with play because when you introduce a concept of play, people are like, “How do I play?”
And so therefore in GMB, we’ve had to go through a process and say, okay, this is how you can actually start to play again. So in terms of you guys in the School of Calisthenics, how do you go about helping people to bring that back into their lives and to be able to play?
Jacko: [00:10:42] I think one of the starting points is showing and telling that it’s a viable option for your training. And it’s not it’s not less valuable and actually in fact it might even be more valuable in that just giving that permission to give that freedom to go, this is a thing that you can do, and you’re going to enjoy your training more.
And if you don’t, of course, there’s times when we need to do things in life and in training that we don’t like doing. But we know they’re good for us and it might be partly rehab or whatever it may be.
But at the same time, and I remember talking to a friend that got into CrossFit and he was overweight and he needed to exercise. He knew he needed to exercise and he wanted to exercise for his health, but he hated what he was doing. He was like, “I hate it.” And I was like, I wasn’t in a place to really, this is a number of years ago and I just remember thinking you shouldn’t hate what you do.
One of the things that, that drove me to into sort of this calisthenics bodyweight avenue was that I loved lifting weights when I was playing rugby. Finished playing rugby, had a head injury and went back to lifting weights once I’d recovered, because I thought I liked lifting weights.
But what I actually realized was I just liked training for rugby. And when there was no game, it was like, now I was doing the same weights, but now I’m bored. And I remember being like, I thought I liked weights. And then I was looking at everyone else going, how is everyone else in here? Like you’re training… they weren’t professional athletes.
They were training super hard with, in my eyes, no, competition, at the weekend or whatever so I was a bit like, how do you stay motivated? So like bringing it back to play, the thing that then got me excited for my training again was playing, was doing random things in the gym with Tim.
And there comes a point where there’s a time and a place for like structured training and programs and stuff so that we can make progress, et cetera. But there’s also real value in that play and that exploring, because play , one thing it does is it teaches you what you can’t do and what your limitations are. And until you, if you never go outside of some of those normal patterns that are all very good moving patterns, like Tim was saying like deadlifts, squats, et cetera.
But if you never move outside of those, you don’t know that you can’t do those things. You either show someone something and they go, I should be able to do that, and they try it and they can’t… And it makes them then think, and then already the learning process has started of what I can do with my body, or you see something yourself and go, I’m going to try and do that and you can’t do it at first.
And it’s problem solving. Like I’ve got an engineering background ,that problem solving approach to things like why what’s, so what’s going on? Why can’t I do that thing? Try and break it down, that’s an enjoyable part of that play-learning process. And ultimately it helps, for me, it lets me understand more about my body and then that allows me to then explore that.
And I think that by showing that in action gives other people permission to go, okay, we can do the same. We don’t just have to do three sets of 10. No, There’s nothing magic about three sets of 10. You could, we’re not going to tell you how many reps do, we’re just going to say play for 10 minutes of this thing or whatever.
Tim: [00:13:26] I’m sure, you’ve probably got lots of thoughts on some of the stuff Jacko said, I can see you nodding along in agreement.
Ryan: [00:13:30] I’ve always got shit to say, but the thing is again, I just want you guys to just keep talking because I’m loving this.
Tim, please run with it.
Tim: [00:13:37] Okay, yeah, I agree with everything Jacko has just said. I’ll post go a little bit, put a little bit of my thoughts on it. I think your point of, how do you get people to play where the world has made us really restricted and refined into certain socially acceptable patterns and behaviors is brutal.
Let’s take a step out of even movement, how did the great creatives do something of value? They play. People play with music, they play with art, they play with whatever their endeavor might be. I enjoy writing.
My brain and my wife’s brain is quite different – she’s very structured. And if I’m going to put some work down and write, it’s a mess, it’s just scrapping. I’m writing, I’m moving and I’m crafting it as I go, then all of a sudden, I’ve got a piece of work. I’m just playing with words and trying to fit them together in different ways.
And we’re doing the same thing from a biomechanical perspective when we play, I’m just trying to fit movement patterns together, and that’s one thing I love about what you do, Ryan, is teach skills and then link them so you’re creating them all the time through movement. And we’re quite intentional around that. I think there’s a few things that we use to people’s benefit to help to learn to play, and one of them is to not provide too much structure.
If I don’t want to do a strength based session, I would just go out in my garden and I’m just going to go. I’ve got 45 minutes, and I’ll often base a play session around something which is of interest to me.
And this isn’t flippin’ new, this is what kids do. I’ve got a three-year-old when he walks into his room, he goes, that’s of interest to me, I’m going to go and play with that thing. And then when he’s bored of that thing and go and do something else.
My interpretation of that is I’m going to go and play with some hand balancing. And when I’m bored at that, I might go and play with some hanging and I’m just going to go and use some different patterns and movements in and around that.
In our language, when we coach we’re quite intentional about it, in our workshops. We will show people some exercises and progressions, and we very intentionally say, “Have a play. Go and have a play. I want you to go and go into your frog stand position.” And people always like, they fall over and they bumped their head on the floor and they look up really embarrassed.
I’m like, that’s a good thing. You now, your brain now knows where it doesn’t work. So now go and try and teach it something else, but you now know what that strategy isn’t going to result in the objective that you are working towards and you can see people become freer and they smile more and they relax.
When you give people the freedom, and it’s not a judgmental environment, because a lot of gyms are like that. Lots of people are resistant to going into a gym and try and learn to handstand because I think people can look at them silly.
The difference was that Jacko and I have been in this game long enough that I don’t care what people think about me when I go into a gym. Because the reality is I probably know a bit more than most, because I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and learning about it.
So I just think it’s getting those shackles off of the restraints that the social norm of exercise has placed on us. And you’ve got to get free and you’ve got to not give a rat’s ass about what anybody is going to say, because the investment that you get, or the investment that you make and the return that you get from it, is the best thing I’ve ever done for my training, is to learn to play.
Jacko: [00:16:25] Yeah, and if you think that out of what I’ve said about how that, like you let these things transcend into other areas of your life, you go, “You see I’m quite a self-conscious person,” you might not do a number of things because of what people think of us.
But then with your training, you go and you build up the courage to do something, and then you look silly in front of people and you go, “Oh, do you know what, that was all right. It wasn’t as, yeah, I looked silly, fell, falling over, doing a frog stand or whatever, but I’ve broke that I’ve broke that habitual like pattern or thing in my head that tells me that I need to be afraid of what people think.” That stuff’s powerful to me.
Tim: [00:16:56] Any of what we can do now, Jacko, I would I really enjoy that hand-balancing progressions and some strength work around that. I wouldn’t be able to anything that I can do now if I hadn’t embraced play. Because you’re exploring, you discover.
One of the best things about play is doing something for the first time that you didn’t think you could do just because you tried. And you realize that “Oh, do you know what, that strength work I’ve been doing, I am actually now able to do this thing.”
And Jacko said before, yes, there’s periods of time that I’d go through your strength blocks, but all strength is to me is an opportunity to go and play at a higher level. It’s just, it’s a fundamental point of just upgrading the fun bit. I quite like strength training, but there’s nothing that really gets me going about five sets of five max strength handstand pushups.
But what I do like is what I can do with that strength when I’m upside down balancing. Showboating!
Ryan: [00:17:42] I’m just like, yeah, preach it. Yeah.
Jacko: [00:17:45] There was something you made me think of Tim. We were talking a bit about, I think it was actually before we went on there, I remember about wanting to get back in front and do it like COVID to stop us doing the face-to-face stuff and everything’s obviously online, but when you, when we come often, like we do a workshop and it might be like 20 people there.
And at the start everyone’s standing and they’re like, really shoulders are hunched over. You can see the tension and the ” Is this going to be okay, like I don’t know.” And then, and the thing that breaks that and gets people laughing and gets people smiling is once you get into some of the, we do a frog stand and we fall over.
Like my first ever frog stand, I face planted onto the floor. That’s how bad it was, but it was like that just breaks things down and people then just start to relax into it. And that’s where the, that’s where the fun happens. That’s where the juicy stuff goes.
Ryan: [00:18:30] It’s so cool. Very similar of course, from what we’re doing, the wording and stuff, we like to say explore. And so I say explore. When we’re looking at our play, we use play of course, but our play for us is exploration.
We don’t want it to be structured. It’s like that interest, finding interest in say, “Oh what is going to come of this?” And the other thing you mentioned towards the very beginning of our talk was you said “workouts,” but then you changed it to “session.”
And so that’s actually what we use too, we call it our practice session. We don’t say workouts because right away when you’re working out and you start to think five by five or, three sets of 10 or something like that.
Ryan: [00:19:07] To continue into this conversation, I want, wanna go into hand balancing. You guys have mentioned this multiple times. And I specifically want to bring up a video.
A video that you sent me and I watched, 55 minute video. Fabulous.
Jacko: [00:19:18] Sorry. Sorry, it wasn’t a short one.
Ryan: [00:19:20] No, and I say that because I was thinking, “Oh yeah, he’s going to send me a five minute video or something.” I thought it was going to be this tutorial because I’m used to seeing all of the tutorials on Instagram and things like that.
I’m like, Holy shit, this is 55 minutes. I was like, wow, this is cool. And I love the title–
Jacko: [00:19:36] Sorry, just to say Ryan, when we were going to, I remember just having the conversation Tim, where we were like, should we just, we’d recorded us coaching live at one of our, it was one of our trip retreats to Mt. Bayer.
And it was like, you could cut that up into little bits we’re like, let’s just put out the whole thing. I think that sounds recorded like the whole process. It was like, this is just it, raw. This is what is happening raw live. And then when you watch it online it’s a bit long.
Ryan: [00:20:01] Yeah, I know. But that’s, I think what’s one of the good things about it, because it is, it’s just okay, here it is. And you can see that process. And I love the title of it because it’s just “Learning the Whole Handstand Process,” which is great. I want to dive into this.
Okay. And, handstands are a big thing with me. I’ve done them since when I was like five, but the whole thing with my background too. People know this, it’s like I did gymnastics till I was 18. And then I basically didn’t do any gymnastic kind of stuff until I was 33. And so I had to teach myself again, how to do all this stuff, and it was all about play and exploration when I came back to it again.
But going through this video, if people can watch the video themselves, and I really, if you’re listening to this, I encourage you watch that video. It’s a great video. Okay? Lots of information in it, but what I’d actually like to touch on is. Okay, that was in a live setting and people were there and you could help each other in what you’re doing and get to doing it.
How could a person watch that and right away be able to apply the things in the video to what they’re doing in their current state. And the thing, basically, what I’m just trying to say is what are some other things that you think could also supplement that video, if you will, in terms of people now who may be in lockdown again, maybe don’t have the opportunities to laugh and, be silly with other people when they’re in that group environment.
So I know that you guys do have your own online events that you do, but let’s just say again, if it is a person working by themselves and wanting to watch that video and start to work on the handstand, but they’re scared still to do it. They’re worried about, “Oh my goodness, am I going to break my shit? Or am I going to break my TV?” or something like that.
So what are some things that you give to the people who right now are in this state of this craziness in the world who want to get into hand balancing, but are still a bit nervous about doing it?
Tim: [00:21:54] That’s a good question. One thing that we’ve always tried to do because of what my and Jacko’s background was, we had some training background, but we had no gymnastics. I had never tried to do a handstand properly when we first started.
So we have been at that place of properly beginners, and that’s probably one way in how we teach it. And probably also because of our strength and conditioning coaching background is that we’ve tried to streamline the process and make it super accessible.
That was always the thing for us. If we wanted to make calisthenics more accessible, because when you look at it, it can look super hard, but been having played with it, we knew that there was so much good stuff in there. If we could make it more accessible to people, so more people could experience the benefits of it.
So I think one thing, in terms of how we’ve done it, is we’ve tried to build all of our programs from a base level. Like you can pretty much jump on most of our programs from a pretty basic level. If you want to do a muscle-up, okay, you might need to do a couple of pullups first, but from a hand balancing perspective we’ve designed it for beginners to get started on.
I think that you make a good point about that when you get the group effect of the social interaction and everyone’s trying it, so it’s okay to try it. The bit around trying to do it in your front room, by yourself, during a lockdown and having the confidence to do it, I think it sometimes comes down to the psyche of people. Because for some that would probably be quite a secure space because no one could see me.
I’m just gonna have a crack at this, I’m gonna try and do a wall kick-up handstand and I’m gonna see how I get on. If I don’t do it, like I’ve only got the cat. And the cat’s miserable anyway, so not going to give me too much opinion.
But I think what, I hope that we’ve, we tried to offer to people and this is probably something which links back to the video, is we try to be the best coaches that we can be, and we try to communicate it in a way which gives people confidence.
And I think our story is testament to that and when anybody can see or think about what I can do in hand balancing now came from a place of when I put my hands on the ground for the first time I decided I was going to learn to handstand, I didn’t know if I was going to dislocate my shoulder or not.
So I’ve been in a much worse place than most people when they start and I hope that what comes across is that our, the way that we coach is inclusive, accessible, and I hope it gives people confidence that there’s a structure and there’s a route.
And I think that maybe plays to mind Jacko’s mindset of how we want to work. When I look at the hand balancing ecosystem or landscape, there’s a thousand different drills you could do if you want to and there’s lots of different people teaching it in different ways and they all work, I think – for the most part.
There’s lots of different ways to learn handstand and we got a little bit of kick back from a few people when we first started, saying “Oh, you’re not doing this, you’re not doing that,” and I was like, “But I can do a handstand, so what’s the problem?”
We’ve very much tried to streamline that process of these are the few things that you need to do which are going to give you the biggest return on your investment. There’s lots of other drills you could do, but these are the things that we think are really important and not distracting people with 20 different drills.
We do it in our workshops, we say until you can kick up to the wall and not hit the wall, you’ve actually not got any right to be in free space because that’s going to make it more difficult. And the biggest thing that you need to focus on during that period of the skill acquisition and skill development is time on task – you’ve got to create opportunity for your brain to rack up time, to learn what it needs to do.
So kicking up in free space and falling over tells your brain that it gets getting good at falling over. Whereas if you kick up the wall, you don’t hit the wall, but it’s there if you need to tap to get a correction, that might give you 30 or 40 seconds across that little block of session of time on task. Whereas kicking up and falling over gives you three seconds worth of total balance time on that one rep that you get.
So we try and we always talk about getting people to earn the right to progress and that’s a harsh reality of training and that’s where the borderline between play and actually being disciplined to your practice has to fit together. There’s the space for both.
Jacko: [00:25:45] I’ve got one thing that ties into something that Ryan said before, when you said about Instagram, you’re like, I’m not generally bothered about that type of thing. But there was something this week from someone where it’s, “If you learn a handstand, you have to do it like this,” it was like, you can’t do X. And there was just like, just made me smile, but it’s just linked to what you said Tim.
Cause I was like, I’m fairly certain that there’s lots of people can learn to do it without doing it that way and doing that. The thing that you’re saying you can’t do you could actually do it. It’s just a little bit narrow-minded to say that you can only do something one way.
I think for one thing that always tried to get across to people and say, particularly when they’re starting from a beginner point of view and from a user confidence point of view is: your training environment needs to be one that you feel safe in.
And that you mentioned, Ryan, worried about knocking over the TV, for example. I know when I first started, I got to the point where I could hold a handstand, but if you made me do it in a really tight confined space, couldn’t do it. It’s like claustrophobic, it shouldn’t change it, but it did.
So making your environment somewhere where you feel comfortable. Meaning that because the brain is interested in a couple of things mainly when we’re looking at doing like handstands is looking at protection and prediction. So it’s predicting, are you going to hurt yourself?
And if you’ve put a cushion down, when you’re doing your frog stand in front of your face, you never actually use it, but it just makes you feel safe because if this goes wrong, when I come down, there’s something soft to land on. So the brain can stop focusing on, am I going to hurt myself?
And it can start to focus on the task in hand of actually balancing on your hands. And that’s where, when you’re doing like wall walks, like walking up towards the wall. So you can just go as far as you feel comfortable, but making sure you got plenty of space so that if you’re going up there, “Oh, I’m a bit worriedI’m going to hit the TV.” Then you’re not giving yourself the cognitive space to work on the task at hand, the skill that you’re trying to do.
So make your training environment as safe and as comfortable as possible, so that your brain isn’t worried about the failure and have a bailout. When I go upside down, if this goes wrong, I’m doing X, like I’m doing half cartwheel down to the side.
That’s the bailout we’re talking about, cause you can get your feet down. You can get one foot down to the ground once your hands are still on the floor, quite comfortably, but almost practice that as a skill to start with so that when you do actually go up, you’re not so worried.
That’s a big one. Cause that’s all you would have seen it with hundreds of people I’m sure where they just can’t get up because they’re just scared of coming down and you’ve you’ve got to provide something in your training environment to allow you to break that.
Ryan: [00:28:06] I love it. And again, everybody in the GMB world, who’s listening to this. They’ll just be like, “Oh! Yeah! I know why Ryan’s talking to these guys. I get it, yes!” Again, I’m not gonna say anything cause I want this to be all about you guys today. I love it.
Tim: [00:28:25] I’m thankful that we’re doing a reverse podcast because I want to know your opinion on some of this stuff so…
Ryan: [00:28:29] I’m just gonna talk shit on you guys so much. No, seriously, this is absolutely fabulous and the thing is I would love to have you guys on again . If you’re listening to this, I’m going to throw one other thing out. Check out Schoolofcalisthenics.com. School of Calisthenics on Instagram. Where else?
Jacko: [00:28:49] On YouTube. There’s Facebook. Twitter is shorter because you can’t have that long a name on Twitter… does anyone use Twitter anymore? I don’t know, but mainly, yeah, probably YouTube, Instagram and the website are the three biggest ones, yeah.
Ryan: [00:29:01] And everybody, go check out – here’s another program that’s really cool. I already got it, Strength Play Conditioning Training Programmes. I already checked it all out anyway so yeah.
Ryan: [00:29:08] I want to finish up though, I want to hear from both of you what’s one final piece of advice you’d like to give to all of our GMB listeners out there. Just one quick piece of advice.
Tim: [00:29:20] Oh, wow. Jacko, you always make me go first.
Jacko: [00:29:24] Because I’m not as clever as you, so I need more time to think of some thing clever to say.
Tim: [00:29:29] Oh gosh, I’ll just tell you what I think and what helps me with my training. There’s no substitute for strength, and I’ll back myself to the hilt on that one. If you want to go and do something cool, get strong.
If you’re trying to do a handstand pushup, your brain needs to have the confidence that when you get into that low body position, you can get back out of it. If you’ve got a strength to spare, your brain can now go, “Do you know what? We’re not worried about this anymore. I’m going to focus on the skill component,” so it can redirect that cognitive efforts towards actually holding body position.
I just think that there’s a lot of people sometimes come to us and be like, “What drill do I need to do to get this thing?” Or if I want to do a press to handstand or whatever it might be… and the amount of times that Jacko and I find ourselves saying, “You’re just not strong enough.”
And they’re like “No, but what drill is it? What drill? What do I need to do?” I’m like “Go and get strong.” And the reason people don’t like that is it might take you three months to get strong enough of doing the same thing.
We can teach you skills very quickly if you’re in that state of readiness for it. I can’t give you strength in a day. You need to go and put the work in. But what I know is that strength makes you more robust and it lets you play at a higher level. So always factor in periodic blocks of strength-based training because I don’t think there’s ever a point where you go, I’m too strong for calisthenics.
It’s never happened. Just get stronger and you’ll have more fun. Speaking of the GMB community, is your community strength orientated? Are they into strength training?
Ryan: [00:30:50] Oh yeah.
Tim: [00:30:51] Okay.
Jacko: [00:30:51] Do we have to call them posse? When you emailed me, you called them posse.
Ryan: [00:30:56] ALWAYS.
Tim: [00:30:58] I sometimes ask that. Our community is a mixture, some people just love the skills stuff, we’ve got some people hard into the strength stuff, it’s interesting to see where people are.
Ryan: [00:31:05] It’s exactly the same with us. Yeah. And yeah, the people coming in, some people just want to focus on the strength in terms of the skills and then we have people who really just looking at the motor control aspect of it. And then we have other people who are just interested in mobility and flexibility. So yeah.
Tim: [00:31:18] I’m just speaking out my own bias there, I just think strength’s cool. Strong people can do cool stuff.
Ryan: [00:31:24] I agree. Yeah, totally agree.
Sorry Jacko, I interrupted you then.
Jacko: [00:31:28] No, I didn’t get, it’s good. It’s alright, gave me an extra few valuable seconds to think of something intelligent to say. I’m going to just go a little bit bigger in a or just holistically and encourage people to embrace our philosophy of redefine your impossible in that, whether it’s in training or whether it’s in any area of your life.
We fundamentally believe that we are far more capable than you currently think, but you have to accept that and you have to try and believe that to make it actually happen and come true. And it may be that your training, you redefine your impossible in your training, you do something you never thought you could do and that proves to you, physically, I’m far more capable than I thought. I did use to think that it was impossible and then that, that’s great and that’s amazing.
But then where it impacts you even greater for you and your loved ones around you in your, everything about your life and your happiness is going to be when you take that and you go, in this other area of my life, where I feel not as good as I want to be. And just accept and go, I’m going to redefine impossible with that. And if you can, yeah. Use the training to allow yourself to bring that in all areas. That we’re far more capable than we actually currently believe.
Tim: [00:32:33] This is what he does to me Ryan. He makes me go first and I have to think of something quick. Go out and get strong. And he comes back with flippin’ enlightened higher level thinking because he gets this time. I don’t mind.
Jacko: [00:32:45] It’s all relative.
Tim: [00:32:46] Yin and Yang, exactly.
Jacko: [00:32:48] But someone will listen to that and be like what the… fluff. I’m just going to go and get strong.
Tim: [00:32:54] It was about that big muscles.
Ryan: [00:32:57] You cover all bases, which is good. Guys, thank you so much for chatting with me, this is fabulous. Love it. Like I said, I’d love to have you on again. Check out School of Calisthenics and yeah, talk to you guys soon. Cheers.
Tim: [00:33:10] Thanks for having us. We’ve enjoyed it. It’s been great.
Jacko: [00:33:13] Thanks mate.
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