Thursday, July 26, 2012

back, forward, back, and turn!

I started working on my three-kick turnaround in October 2011. After some tension and pain it caused my shoulder I avoided the trick and moved on to other tricks. In the late Winter I decided to give it another try and I made a little bit of progress, and in the early Spring I made even more progress by learning how to engage my lower core muscles. Unfortunately, taking off three months during the Spring (to study for the GMAT!) made my progress on the three-kick turnaround naught.

At my first trapeze class this summer I set short- and long-term goals. One of my short-term goals was to successfully perform the three-kick turnaround. I set to work spending hours focusing on bits and pieces of this trick. First, I had to master my force-out. The force out is when a flyer curls up into a ball and fully extends his or her body at the height of his or her swing. If you are flying without lines (no harness) this helps build height on your swing and maintain (or build) momentum. After a turnaround, one has to force-out over the board (that's the platform you jump off); however, when I attempted to do this my calves and/or heels would smack down on the board so hard my fellow classmates got startled. A few rug burns later (the board has carpet) and a few days when I had to wear backless shoes as a result of injured heels and I knew this had to change.
A still from my force-out over the board last night.

The next part of my trick to focus on was the actual turning. Not only did my legs separate and go flailing around, but my hips were back and sometimes my whole body was, shall we say, off-kilter. It was just not-pretty. At this point, I felt like the overarching theme to my progress, or lack thereof, was my (in)ability to fully-engage my muscles, particularly my core... I really wasn't strong enough.

A few weeks later I noticed the biggest improvement in my strength, and ultimately success at the trick, as a result of running and training for the Tough Mudder. Running upwards of 10 miles per week helped make my quad and abdominal muscles much stronger. And I mean MUCH STRONGER. I have so much more control over my body in the air, it really is quite a gratifying and rewarding feeling. Since I began running I have also noticed that I can do leg lifts, where previously I could not lift my feet off of the ground, at all. In the words of my instructor Mandy, "Well, those muscles weren't there six months ago! And now you can control them too!" So true, Mandy. So true.
I'm still amazed that my legs are together and straight, and that my toes are pointed!

Since I noticed this increase in muscle strength I have been able to consistently force-out over the board without smacking my legs! It is such an amazing feeling of relief. And once I was able to consistently force-out without hurting myself, my instructors built the half-turn into my swing as well! The best way to explain this entire compilation of a trick is: Jump... 3 kicks (back-forward-back)... turn around (at height of swing)... swing forward... force-out over the board... swing backward... turn around (at height of swing)... grab wrists with the catcher!

I picked up the half-turn really quickly. Actually, I threw it just once two weeks ago. Worked on it last week. And caught it both times last night!! This trick has brought me a lot of smiles, tears (almost), happiness, and pain... and I'm proud to say I've finally accomplished it!

Thanks to Grace, my first half-turn catch was caught on camera. Thanks, Grace! Y'all can check it out here...

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