Monday, October 31, 2011

Rewind: A problem with ARTISTIC Gymnastics

With the current code of points demanding crazy amounts of difficulty, the gymnasts on floor exercise are now packing in 6 tumbling passes in 1:10 and they have no time (or energy for that matter) to show any sort of artistry or style. 

Thomas Gonzales from Chile is an exception. At the recent 2011 Pan Am Games, his floor routine really caught my eye (the moustache should probably go though…):

I loved this routine because he pays attention to the little details. He holds his chin up, his arms moves purposefully, there are little subtleties in his routine that make you want to press rewind. In fact, I did rewind this video multiple times after every pass because I felt compelled to analyze it more closely. This routine is awesome and I strongly believe that there needs to be some sort of way to reward a gymnast for their style other than just with youtube hits ;) 

Now, for a comparison, take a look at this routine from the 2008 Olympic Champion, Zou Kai:

Sure, he can tumble like the wind, but a cardboard box has more style. His head is down, his arms are lazy and he looks like he's going for a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon in between passes. There is no ownership of innovation and no attempt to be eye catching - it's a stock routine that gets great results because he has a higher difficulty score than everyone else (of note, Zou was 2nd at Worlds and Thomas was 6th). And, to me, it's boring and I have no desire to watch it again after it's done. Don't get me wrong, I think Zou is an amazing athlete, but I'm also a purest who believes that style should be equally, if not more important, than the big tricks. His gymnastics is not the gymnastics that I fell in love with. I wouldn't want to go back into the gym after watching Worlds on TV and pretend that I was Zou Kai - I would want to learn the cool corner part that Thomas Gonzales did and add it into MY routine.

I am becoming very frustrated with the lack of artistry in gymnastics these days! It's not called Extreme Gymnastics…it's called ARTISTIC gymnastics and the art of the sport is being lost.

A while back, I made a proposal to one of the FIG men's technical committee members to restrict the number of passes on men's floor exercise to 5 and to add 10 extra seconds to the length of a routine in order to encourage time for a little bit of artistry. I believe that this could make a huge difference in preserving the "artistic" part of the sport. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting to hear back…

All I know is that something needs to change and it needs to change fast. Routines like the one from Thomas Gonzales should become the norm and not the other way around. Artistic Gymnastics needs to start encouraging artistry again. It's a core value in the sport (it's in the NAME for goodness sake!) and having fans wanting to press rewind is how we keep the sport alive and vibrant. We have to think of the next generation who are watching at home and we have the responsibility to show them that attention to detail, artistry, innovation and uniqueness are as important as learning the big skills. A jump full turn with elegance and control is much more impressive than a full-twisting 1 3/4 roll out (and the former is something you can try to do in your living room - a place where many gymnastic dreams are initially discovered!)

So, what's your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions on how to bring back the "artistic" in artistic gymnastics? Which routine do you feel more compelled to watch and which one would you rewind and watch again? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Busted Toe

I was helping Kristin move some furniture into one of her renovation projects when I dropped a very heavy drawer on my big toe. OUCH!!! It took every ounce of my self-control not to yell out a giant F word and scare the entire neighbourhood. I would honestly put the pain on the same scale as what I felt when I broke my legs. Toes are sensitive little nuggets and they are not meant to have heavy things slam down on them. Yuck. 

A couple of days after the incident, I spoke at an event in Kelowna and I took the stage in my sock feet because my toe was so swollen I couldn't even get my shoe on. Good thing I wear fun socks!

This has put a bit of a damper on my running rampage - I haven't been able to hit the pavement in a week now and I am starting to go crazy. Like, really really crazy! I lie in bed at night and my legs are shaking because they haven't been exercised. My mind races. I am super disorganized and I am losing all sense of my own focus zone. Hopefully this sucker heals fast so I can gain back my sanity soon…

You don't notice how much of an impact that running and exercise have on your ability to focus until you can't do them. I've got to figure out an alternative plan because I can't stand being inside my head for another second!!!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

5K for Gymnastics Canada

Yesterday, I ran the 5K at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront run in 21:31. My goal was to come in under 23 minutes so it was definitely mission accomplished!

I ran today in support of the next generation of Canadian Gymnastic stars. I believe in their potential, and I know that it is going to take funding to get them there.

Thanks to everyone who played a role in helping me raise close to $3000! And to those of you who would still like to donate, you're in luck! Donations are being accepted until mid-November. If you feel so inclined, my fundraising page is here. *Note: All donations over $25 receive a tax receipt which is always nice;)

I've got to admit, running a 5K is much different than running a Half Marathon. You have to access a different part of your body and mind. The longer the run, the more strategic you have to be in the your approach. You can't go out too fast or you are in for big trouble at the end. But when it comes to a 5K, you just have to give 'er. From start to finish, you have to grind the gears and push yourself to the max. Today's 5K made me feel physically strong and powerful and it felt great to cross the finish line in support of Canadian Gymnastics!

Annie and I ready to run!

Annie, myself and Helen 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Focus Zone

I don't know if you heard this or not, but multi-tasking died in 2009. In order to make a real impact in this world, it's essential to create a focus zone. Shift happens when we have the space to be single minded. 

Major gains in any project are made when we find our perfect formula for focus and go there often. 

It's natural for the inner villain to pipe up when you create this space. It often says, "You can't just focus on one thing. You have so many things to do"!

What the villain doesn't know is that more things get done when we create the space to start and finish them. And, the more we complete, the more productive we become because we gain momentum when we feel a sense of accomplishment.

My Focus Zone looks like this:

- Phone off
- A specific task to complete has been outlined and sits in front of me (ex. complete blog on focus zone)
- Desk cleared
- Email closed
- Internet off (a biggie! google searches can be addictive when you start to struggle)
- A small pad of paper at a far corner of my desk for "backburner" items that come up in my mind and try to take me off task. I write them down and deal with them later.
- A timer set beside me for a designated amount of time (usually for 45 minutes, but can be up to 2 hours)
- silence in the background - or occasionally music, but something ambient without words.
- A glass of water or a coffee. 
- And I've usually done some sort of physical activity within an hour and a half beforehand.

Without my focus zone, my mind races with my list of things to do. I can be so easily distracted. I find my villain comes in to attack me often when I haven't created boundaries. Sometimes I can start writing an email, then go to a website to reference something, then hit up facebook "just to see", then remember something else I forgot to do, then start walking to the kitchen to write myself a note, then unload the dishwasher, then fold some clothes, then play with Cooper, then check my twitter on my blackberry and then come back to my computer half an hour later having completely forgot that I was even writing that original email.

I have found that creating a focus zone in my life has literally doubled my productivity. I have become so much more effective because I have the space to get things done. I'll admit, some days it's hard to go there - especially when my list of tasks is overwhelmingly long. But the thing I've found is that I get things done faster and of higher quality when I simply focus on one thing at a time.

So, now it's your turn. What does your focus zone look like? I'd love to hear your comments! 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Half Marathon

At the beginning of the summer, I felt desperate for a fitness goal. I was craving commitment and I needed a challenge. I was feeling very unfulfilled because I was trying to do too many things at once. I needed a fitness focal point and so I decided to run a half marathon - a big part of me didn't think I could do it. Remember, I used to run a mere 25 meters at full speed towards a stationary object and flip over it. 21.1km seemed slightly impossible...

I spent the entire summer committed to the goal. I sweated my face off as I ran up massive flights of stairs (multiple times, may I add). I ran around the entire town of Westlock 3 times in order to get in my required km's. I ran in the pouring rain. I ran on vacation and while camping (of course, I had a beer right after :) ). I almost got heat stroke a couple of times. I fought off the lazy demons and even organized an informal 10K race in preparation for the big event. I was up EVERY Saturday morning at 7am hitting the trails with my amazing running crew (Breezer, Kimbo, Kung-Fu and De-Rock; I love you guys!). I remember one Saturday morning, though, when my running buddies were all out of town - I ran for nearly 2 hours by myself while listening to TED talks on my ipod. I hated it, but I loved it. Oh, how the life of being committed to a goal makes my wheels turn! I loved that morning because I felt like I was gaining momentum with each cement footed step I took. I could have easily said NO, and I wanted to, but I didn't. Giving up was available to me, no one else was there to hold me accountable, but I chose to push through and it made me stronger. 

After a summer full of training, I am extremely proud to say that on Saturday October 1st, I successfully ran my first half marathon. It felt amazing! My goal was to run it in under 2 hours and I came in at 1 hour 47 minutes. Booyah! 

I started off nice and slow just to make sure I would have some energy left for the end. It was a beautiful course and on a couple of occasions I completely forgot that I was running...I think they call that runners high ;) Then, when I saw the 18km mark, I started to pick up speed. I moved to a 4 minute km and started to blaze past people - I was in my element. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. My inner superhero was screaming inside, "Move it people. I'm coming through!" When there was only 250 meters left, I found a totally new gear and sprinted to the finish line.

When it all ended, I was tired and satisfied. I felt like I had just experienced a really big moment in my life.

I also thought to myself, "I think a marathon IS possible"…

Uh Oh.

Arrrrg! Crossing the Finish Line

Team Awesome - L-R: Shewfly, Kimbo, Breezer, De-Rock, Kung-Fu

Nice medals!

We did it!!!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

I'm running 5K for Canadian Gymnastics! Please support me :)

Friends, Family and Colleagues:

I have decided to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5K on October 16th to raise funds for the next generation of Canadian Gymnastic Superstars!  

My goal is to raise $10,000 (all of which will go towards the Canadian National Teams) and I need your help over the next 2 weeks to achieve it. 

To donate, please click on the link below:

Good news: I give you permission to share the link with any gymnastic fans in your network :)

Extra good news: Online donations of $25 and over will automatically receive an official electronic tax receipt.

I LOVE gymnastics and I know you do too. To find out why your contribution matters, please check out this link: KYLE SHEWFELT.

Thanks so much for your support!