First Published, 2nd January, 2015
2014 has been a year of challenges, big changes and a lot of excitement. Many many things have been totally amazing. I could list everything I got up to over the past year but it’s already been documented through my blog, Facebook and Instagram. So instead I’ve just scribbled down my thoughts and written them out here.
Training this year has involved learning how to push myself but not to breaking point, being open to work on weaknesses and not just my strengths, and being able to work around injury and taking the positives from this.
The more creative I’ve become with the way I moved, the more missing links I’ve found in my body. A huge one was flexibility. Wanting to be able to touch my toes to my head in a handstand started the obsession with working on back bends. Flexibility has become a huge priority for me and I learnt that just like any skill, it takes volume and repetition to make progress. And patience. A lot of patience. But it’s worth it for all the demented positions I can now get myself into.
In the summer I tore cartilage in my right knee (according to the doctors) by trying to force my legs into lotus pose. Suddenly I only had full use of my weaker leg. I learnt to kick up into handstand on my uncoordinated weak side, which was something that helped start to balance out both sides of my body. I hated it at first because it felt like learning handstands again from scratch.
Speaking of handstands, I learnt a lot about what a “handstand line” means. I have to say it was a priority to be as straight as a nail for about two months until I decided I actually enjoyed letting my back arch to make shapes. Figuring out what was actually important to me with my training, rather than what was important to other people was pretty liberating.
Keeping as open a mind as possible when it comes to training has been another important lesson this year. Thinking that there is only one right way to do things is unbelievably limiting. I have been fortunate enough to learn from so many brilliant coaches and fellow students. Two months ago I started teaching a weekly GMB class at Crossfit Stags and Does in Cambridge, which is where I am now regularly training. Crossfit was my introduction into the world of strength and movement. I don’t train it any more, and despite primarily being at the box to teach what I do, I have learnt so much from the Coaches. I’ve learnt things I couldn’t get to grips with when I actually did Crossfit like double-unders, and I never knew how much I love Turkish Get Ups. The more you can learn, the more you can share and experience and that’s what creates our community.
I began the GMB Trainer candidacy in April. It wasn’t a hard decision to make since Ryan was already my coach and I loved my training. What was hard was actually becoming a trainer. There were plenty of moments where I wanted to quit and just go off and do my own thing like a sulky teenager. But I didn’t and I became part of an amazing group of people who are like a second family.
I finally got to meet Ryan, Andy, and Jarlo in California in August, as well as the other GMB staff and trainer candidates (because at that point we hadn’t graduated). I was amazed at how we all instantly clicked with each other. Some of my favourite moments include… when I first met Ryan, he walked into the house carrying shopping bags and I ran up and hugged him. Since he couldn’t hug me back he just stood there awkwardly holding his shopping until I let go… Reading bed time stories to Ryan and Jarlo’s kids… Eating korean food and then going back to the beach house to do some acrobalance for absolutely no reason… Handstands in the garage… And the seminar was pretty good too.
I came back from California and began working as an admin assistant for Amber and Jarlo, answering emails. That’s right, when you email email@example.com you are now likely to get a response from me. Interacting with our clients and so many different people on a daily basis is teaching me so much more about the company, the best way to give help and advice and how to communicate this in a friendly but professional way. I never thought I would enjoy answering emails so much but I love it.
In October Ryan came over to teach a weekend Seminar which I had organised in Cambridge. Having my coach in my home town was amazing. We weren’t there for long though, because after the seminar we travelled a little bit, from London to Paris to Amsterdam, where we taught another Seminar. What I actually mean is Ryan taught and I assisted him. I got to watch and admire, help our students and occasionally bring him coffee because I have mad skills when it comes to pressing the button on the coffee machine.
In December I went to Scotland to stay with GMB Trainer Gayle. She is wonderful and we spent three days training, eating, training, eating, training, and oh yeah spent four hours getting tattooed. Due to her insane strength, this tiny 58kg woman was able to lift me while we worked on some acrobalance together. A lot of time was also spent upside down.
This is the first year I’ve really travelled around so much. I was in California for three weeks and managed to visit San Jose, Los Angeles, Salinas, Monterey and San Diego. And then Paris, Amsterdam and Glasgow later in the year. They were all very short visits, but I realised that I could adapt to any environment or situation. I was fortunate that I was with such great people everywhere I went. I know that had a huge impact on my experience.
I didn’t realise how small the world actually is. It’s incredibly easy to get from one country to another and I want to visit more places, see more, experience more and continue meeting new people. It isn’t worth hiding yourself away when there is so much more out there for you.
I would like to think I have grown up a lot this year, but I also feel like I am only just starting out in life. This year has been like a bridge for me. It’s taken me from living a very safe, quiet life through a string of experiences to get me ready for 2015.
I’ve learnt about the things that are really important to me both in training and in life, and how to separate this from what’s unhelpful or irrelevant. A big thing this year has been understanding how to find balance, and not just in a handstand or on one leg. I am still trying to find balance, to not over train, not over think, worry less and enjoy more. Work hard but be able to relax. Lots of stuff to work on. But like I said, I am just starting out. I am still a baby and still have so much to learn.
I thought last year was life changing and I mean it was but, what is about to happen in my life is going to change it in ways I could never imagine. In 11 days I am moving to Japan. I am going to be working and living out there. But I am also going to be in a new environment, learning how to be part of a new culture and how to speak another language. I’m leaving everything that I know for something completely uncertain, but then I guess nothing in life is certain anyway. There will be a lot of things I miss and I’m sure at times I will want to come back to England (yeah maybe…) I’m choosing to put myself as far outside my comfort zone as possible. Because I want more from my life. And it’s going to be totally amazing.
2014 wouldn’t have been what it was without the people who were there with me. So thank you to all my special people… I could make a list but it would be very long and boring to read.