The Bent Arm Bear

Alpha Posse is where I started out with GMB. I joined over two years ago, set up a training log and got to know the coaches and community. As soon as I started going through the Trainer Apprenticeship my participation in Alpha became zero. I had to step back to focus on becoming a Trainer. However, last month I had an opportunity to become part of Alpha again, by joining the Alpha Posse Monthly Challenge.

Each month we have an Alpha Posse Challenge for all the members, cleverly created by Ryan. Whatever the challenge, you work on it daily and post videos and comments to the forum thread. We have two GMB Trainers who moderate the thread, giving cues and feedback to all the participants. The participants themselves are there to support one another, also provide feedback for each other and just generally interact and enjoy the challenge together.

June’s challenge was the Bent Arm Stand. The rules were simple. Perform one minute of bent arm bear walk everyday. Do it alongside whatever else you are training. The bent arm bear is a progression for the bent arm stand. Everyone participating had to submit initial videos of their bent arm stand and bent arm bear. That way progress could be tracked throughout the challenge, and compared to the final videos submitted at the end of the month.

The goal of the monthly challenge is not to see who is the best, but who makes the most progress within their own physical ability. It’s a personal journey for everyone involved, but everyone shares their experience, which is why I wanted to be part of it. I have to emphasise this; it’s not a competition.

So getting started with my bent arm bears. A locomotive movement that improves bent arm strength along with flexibility and coordination. They look really really easy, especially when you see someone like Ryan doing it. Start in an A frame just like you would for a regular bear walk. Then bend your arms and bring your shoulders over your hands. Move. Well try and move. I began with some very clompy bears, unable to really bend my arms or get my body into the right position. I automatically tried to push my body back onto my feet because my arms literally couldn’t take all the weight. And I fell on my head. Many many times. Such a simple movement immediately highlighted so many missing links and so much weakness in my body. I couldn’t even get close to a bent arm stand. So that ruled that out.

Along the way Ryan added videos of progressions we could do along side the one minute of bear. This allowed us all to get more creative, and people started taking these movements and turning them into flows. The simple practice of walking on four limbs with bent arms brought out a level of body awareness and control that I think some of us didn’t realise was there. Subtle challenges were added along the way, like when it was “suggested” to me that I do five minutes of bear. That was definitely interesting. But things started to click for me when I was able to understand the connection between the bear and other movements like forward rolls, crows and other bent arm hand balances, and even how it can be used as a transition. It wasn’t just about the bent arm stand. There were so many progressions, variations and different movements to learn and explore along the way. This is why the end point is far less important than the process of working towards something.

My time with the challenge. Hopefully you can see I had fun!!!

For me taking part in this challenge hasn’t just been about improving my bent arm bear or nailing the bent arm stand (which I totally didn’t). I started to experience something I haven’t in a long time. No pressure. Being part of something that is about sharing your individual journey and literally just having fun. No one actually cares who is “the best”, or what level they are at. Everyone supported each other and doing something challenging with other people creates accountability and encouragement, which drives everyone to keep going. It’s amazing to see the progress you can make with a little bit of focus. And it was the best part of my morning, waking up and checking the forum thread to see everyones latest videos and comments.

I want to say thank you to everyone who took part and made the Bent Arm Stand Challenge so exciting and enjoyable. Thank you to Kirsty and Jeannie for coaching us through it. Thank you to Ryan for creating something so awesome for all of us. And a huge congratulations to Fi Silk who won the challenge. She made amazing progress with her bear and nailed the bent arm stand.

Even though it’s over, July is a new month with a new challenge, and it’s already time to get started…

If you’re interested in learning more about Alpha Posse, you can check details out here. http://gmb.io/a/ Or feel free to email info@gmb.io

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