Monday, May 31, 2010

"There Will Be No Skipping Gymnastics 101, I don't care If You are 20!"

Imagine my surprise as a PE major in college when I found the required courses included "Teaching Gymnastics 101".  I was even more surprised when I showed up the first day at 8am to the gym and immediately noticed the gym was outfitted with mats, beams, and various other contraptions resembling the circus.  I guess the point of the class was we would need to see the apparatus in order to teach the skill, but I couldn't help picture my future PE class at the mercy of me teaching them gymnastic moves when I could hardly reach down far enough to put on my socks without grunting.
It was not a surprise that all 10 of us classmates were PE majors as well. I mean, who in their right mind would take this as an elective just for the enjoyment and well being of their college experience, definitely not me.  At first, I thought this might actually turn out nicely in hopes it would help me in my main process of getting the "MRS degree" as I skimmed the class noticing the ratio between guys and girls was 8 to 2.  Looking at each other and the apparatuses and back at each other again, we begin snickering and sweating nervously at the thought of any us of attempting these death defying feats and actually getting a passing grade, we were sure this was just a visual exercise, I mean we are 20!  Then suddenly a little man about 4'11 walks into the gym, approximately 65 and balding, wearing tight little White shorts, a tight tank top with a patch saying "JR National Champion", chalked up hands holding a detailed class syllabus.  As I stared down at this little gymnast I knew that 8am Tuesday  and Thursday was going to be the new challenge in my life, one that I'd need to figure out how many of those I could skip and still pass, which my answer soon came with
"Welcome, there will be no skipping of my class, you must pass all circuits appropriate to gender related events.  Well that was not good news other than "gender related", I at least could eliminate the Pommel horse, Rings and High bar!
The Beam, the easiest in the bunch, was thankfully only about six inches off the mat.  The task- to walk back and forth, high kick, and then squat down with a turn in the middle, and of course never losing gracefulness.  Somehow as a  5'9, 20 year old basketball player in black sweats and an over sized tea shirt wobbling on a 2 inch beam regardless of the toes pointed, would never have a chance at the gracefulness points. I made that even more clear when I did my lower squat down to the beam with a turn only to fall off in slow motion in a slanted squat to the matted floor.  I tried to win him over with a great arms up "TA DA"  but the JR. National Champion made me do it over again, and in the end I stayed on the beam but ended the rotation with a B-."Whatever... let's rotate!"

Single file line to the next stop, noticing the men of the group beginning to fidget a little, we step up to the rings.  Not only was this the most ego breaking class ever required it sure didn't help to have 2 giggling chicks watching them as the veins popped out of their forehead while trying to hold a perfect "T" position.  I saw some ugly faces that morning and crossed a few "MRS. Degree Prospects" off the list.   A few high fives, swats on the behind and fake kisses on the cheeks we were off to practice our FLOOR routine.  Of course in every good floor routine there is the ever amazing front hand spring.  I had heard this day was coming, when we would actually have to put all our weight on our hands and flip OVER.  Thanks to a diet of Top Ramen noodles to save money that year, I was dealing with a little more weight than ideal for this situation. The Jr. National Champion 4'11 teacher announced proudly that he would spot us on this death defying flip, which really did not help my anxiety, I mean really...  As I watched people in front of me boldly go down the mat runway, flip on their hands and land safely, I was wishing at that point I would have spent more time as a youngster on a trampoline.  Instead I was daydreaming about the pool we had, which made front and back handsprings very manageable, and also provided an arena for FANTASTIC pool routines.  If only this class could resume nearby at the campus pool I know I'd surely impress everyone.  "Courtney you're up"
It was time.. I looked down the mat at my tiny instructor on one knee on the right side of the mat  and a very tall handsome baseball player kneeling on the other side, thinking perhaps a leotard would help this illusion.   Deep breath, waving to the crowd on either side and a small wave to the judges, I'm in my zone, eye of the tiger, sprinting fast...faster..faster.. face bouncing, hands going down on mat, I'm Mary Lou Retton, legs coming around, "oh No" feeling a little off balance, getting spotted by tiny man, legs now STRADDLING tiny man's head and now have PINNED down my Jr. National Champion Instructor who then pushes me a side and yells A+!!!

Ok, he really didn't yell A+ he was too busy fixing his comb over and wiping the sweat off his brow.  The baseball player is splitting his own gut laughing so hard he's crying and the rest of the "squad" has completely lost all composure.  The day came when I got my grade and I passed Gymnastics 101 with a beautiful B- but no engagement ring. Strangely, there at the bottom of the blank box where an instructor can add his thoughts he left "no comment".


  1. is that a photo of you? you look PRO girl!

  2. :) no that would be Nadia..

  3. I am crying with laughter...the visuals are killing me!

  4. I think I saw this funny episode on "The Wonder Years" for those of you old enough to remember--a classic TV show!

    Wow, you're quite the athletic one: swimming, Jogger, basketball, gymnastics! I'm impressed. the only gymnastics I experience is the big one on television every 4 yrs.