Adult Gymnastics: Beating the Trail Resident Card program and getting in shape to boot
Every pre-season I make the same promise to myself: this year is going to be different. When the snow hits and the chairs start rounding the bull wheel, I’m going to be ready. My need for cardiovascular fitness, endurance, flexibility and strength training will be aligned via a realistic and attainable regime, the ultimate goal being the ability to stack back-to-back days on the ski hill right out of the gates; no days will be lost to cramping legs or chill-affected lungs.
Somehow, though, these best laid plans always go awry. Cross-training wood splitting with bushwhacking gives way to beer swilling; weight training segues into home-brewing; and training sessions deteriorate into tequila sampling sessions.
A pattern is set, the die cast. Festivities and the social animal override the inner disciplinarian. But not this year. No, this year will be different. I have a new muse, and I call her “Gymnastics,” because that’s what I’m doing, and that’s what it’s all about this shoulder season: gym-nas-tics.
Now, before the wisecracks about rhythmic gymnastics start to pepper the comments page, let me clarify. I am not currently awaiting the arrival of my own personalized streamer-thing, majorette baton, or anything like that. I do not have a unitard on back-order, and I am not giddily awaiting custom spandex-lycra leggings emblazoned with “T-Brad” on them. Although that would be kind of cool, the stretchy form-fitting factor isn’t my thing.
Designated in the formal literature as “Adult Gymnastics Class,” Wednesday nights at the Trail Recreation Complex (basement floor of the Regional District run Selkirk College building) see folks of all body-types and ability/agility levels taking to the mats.
It’s all board-shorts, T-shirts and business in this scene–what I’m dubbing ‘practical gymnastics,’ or ‘sport-utility athletics’. The fashion show we’ll leave to the Chip Wilson fans and nouveau yogi fascists as they jiggle their way through grocery store checkouts in the vain hope of being checked out themselves.
Get over yourself, people. Go show your asanas off someplace else.
The Trail Gymnastic Club (singular) is operated by the Trail Gymnastics Society (plural), the longest continually-operating gymnastics club/organization in British Columbia(!). The ‘adult’ component, while hardly rated “R” (or further along in the alphabet) is adult-only in that it is designed with coaching us nubile types through the techniques integral to our not hurting ourselves in mind.
Because that’s what happens at our age when we throw caution to the wind. We get hurt.
Much of my rationale for signing up was in the interests of mitigating injuries on the ski hill and in the backcountry this season. Gymnastics help with not just learning to fall properly (and you will fall), but with strength, balance, flexibility, and body and spatial awareness, too. The “air awareness” that comes along with practice is but a fringe benefit, but yeah, flips and inverted spins are fun. And when there’s a high jump mat strategically placed to cushion your clean landing or lack thereof: game on.
“You can really make it what you want it to be,” explains all-in-one coach, instructor and designated spotter Nicola Marynowski. “I really like working with adults because they try so hard. They’re more determined, disciplined and detail-oriented. It makes for a really fun environment.”
Marynowski, a coach for over 18 years now, holds a level two National Coaching Certification Program designation, is preschool certified (lucky for us gangly man-children), is Trampoline Level One certified, and is also qualified to instruct Special Olympics athletes. Over qualified? You bet.
“I like seeing people progress,” she explains. “Anybody can huck, but our aim is to get people conscious of what their body is capable of and how to move it safely. Control is key.”
As is my habit with ski area terrain parks, I took my inaugural class to casually cruise by and scope out what kind of features were available at the gym. What I thought were some sweet handrails turned out to actually be ‘balance beams’, while the remainder of the equipment was pretty self-explanatory.
The floor is bouncy and blue, making me feel like I had a spring in my step. There are parallel bars, pommel horse, trampolines, tumbling mats, a sweet vault, and piles of other gear ranging from green to black diamond stunts. Local bike mechanic and ski tech celebrity Rory Belter and I built a cool wall-ride and took turns raising the bar. An adult gymnastics veteran, Rory is full of sage advice for newcomers.
“I use a string to keep my shorts up,” Belter squints, wizened gymnastics master that he is.
His words prove prophetic, as my belt buckle jammed into my mid-section as soon as I gave the parallel bars a whirl. Drawstring shorts or baling twine suspenders come recommended: leave the pewter trucker buckles at home.
You may also want to tend to your toenails as classes are conducted barefoot. And bring a T-shirt, too; there are no teams at adult gymnastics, no need to go “shirts or skins.” Clothing, and appropriate clothing at that, is mandatory. Hollywood aspirations are welcome, but Halloween costumes and capes should be left at home.
“When I taught in Delta, a lot of people from the film industry used to come out to classes,” Marynowski recalls. “The program was really popular with stuntmen and stuntwomen.”
Well, that has me written all over it.
Adult gymnastic(s) classes run Wednesday nights at the Trail Rec Centre (Selkirk College Building) in downtown Trail.
*Of special note to Rosslanders, the hated resident card and parochial nonsense DOES NOT APPLY as the Trail Gymnastic Club is independent of the City of Trail, and the building is a Regional District of Kootenay Boundary-maintained facility.
Participant insurance (good until June) is $45, and a ten-class punch card is $60. Nicola is currently looking into single, one-off insurance for those just looking to do one drop in class, but as of press time that option has not yet been ironed out. Stay tuned.
Adult gymnastics. Come on out and learn to do a cartwheel right. Or lead with your left hand. It’s tricky.