So I quit doing competitive gymnastics 15 years ago and since then a lot has changed -- the uneven bars are further apart to allow for bigger release elements between the bars, forward tumbling got to be the thing to do, the horse we used to vault on has evolved into a much safer and less intimidating vaulting table (aka the tongue), and every gym seems to have a Tumbl Track (60' long trampoline) for learning new skills.
I tried out this Tumbl Track at the adult classes at the gym I went to in Mountain View, CA two years ago but it requires a completely different approach from tumbling on a standard 40' x 40' floor because the latter requires a lot of speed that you then transfer into upward momentum for the big skill at the end of your back handspring series. When I tried to use the Tumbl Track it was sort of disastrous because I was expecting the quick push back that the floor gives. Instead, you get this delayed push that my body was not used to waiting for which basically fucked up everything. Back then I decided I was an old dog who wouldn't be able to learn new tricks, but last night I went to my first adult class here in Seattle and for the first time I was the youngest.
My 52-year-old Charles-Manson-looking instructor (he's actually super cool, just kinda scary looking at first) convinced me though that you can't do floor tumbling forever because it's just too hard on the joints. It took him a year to adjust to the timing of the Tumbl Track but he argues that it will allow me to do gymnastics into my 70s like he plans to. So last night was dedicated to making friends with this new piece of equipment. I managed as much as a running front layout, and a front handspring to front tuck. The second one was actually a 1 1/4 front tuck that caused my face to make contact with the crash mat leaned up against the far wall because I had too much forward momentum. But my nose remained intact and so did my pride since, as a washed up ex-gymnast with a gut, I have none. So yeah, I've decided I'm going to learn how to use this monster so I can continue to do geriatric gymnastics as we call it without fracturing any joints. Check out this guy's awesome video with all the cool stuff you can do on it complete with names of the skills. Watch until the end to see all the falls which are fun to watch. My goals (no deadline since I have until I'm dead to learn them now) round off back handspring to back full (full twisting layout), and if I can find a Tumbl Track that leads into a foam pit (like this one) I wouldn't mind going for multiples twists and some double backs.