I was performing a routine with four other girls (if I remember it correctly) in front of the whole school. We were the only gymnasts in the public primary school who had just recently participated in a regional competition. We did not win any prize because if we did my memory of it would have been a much more pleasant one. But it was not a bad experience either because I remember our teacher who accompanied us to the competition venue brought us to have ice cream after that.
There were two particular parts of the routine that I was always wishing would go smoothly. The first was to let the ball slide from the top of the head, along my back and catching it before it falls to the ground. In the gymnastics world, that is a simple routine. And yet the act of catching the ball was attributed to luck. But I suppose as we have practiced a lot, the routine went smoothly during that performance.
The second one was not so complicated. It was just doing splits from a standing position. During practice, I remember struggling to do the splits perfectly i.e. at a 180º angle. But that moment shocked me because I did it quite perfectly. It surprised me so much that I still remember the feeling to this day. And of course, I felt happy and accomplished.
About a couple or so years later, I stopped doing gymnastics. I got really ill to the point that I was unable to do anything during practice sessions but lie on the floor helpless and squirming in pain. I think I quit mainly just to save myself from further embarrassment. And I think that my feeling embarrassed outweighed the regret of quitting such an enjoyable sport. But the regret caught up eventually and soon I begun wishing that I had not stopped practicing.
After dealing with and recovering from the seemingly perpetual illness, I have gained my strength back and the world seems to be full of endless possibilities. I googled whether other people have successfully become flexible in their 20’s when they have not before. I watched lots of ballet and gymnastics videos on YouTube. My admiration towards those sports increased and my wish to become flexible again became apparent.
So will my flexibility or range of motion improve? I shall have to find out and I will let you know if it does. I have been doing stretches every day based on the guidance from this fitness website. They encourage the understanding of your own body. The techniques that they provide are based on your own goals and the exercises are easy to do, focusing on gentle intensity and progression.
Basically, I have been stretching my hamstring by doing Downward Dog, and loosening my hips and spine with a Modified Pigeon stretch, Lunges and other variations. So far I think it is working for me. I am happy to say that I am able to do the bridge again!
Hopefully my body will acquire the broad range of movement that it is designed for. I don’t know when, but I estimate about at least in two years’ time if I keep this up every day alongside cardio. Once I have achieved a high level of flexibility — the ability to do the splits, proper squat, top-notch backbend, handstand and cartwheels — I would be able to express my physical self better, as well as pick up some martial arts skills perhaps.