So it would seem that I've been pretty slack updating the blog (having not put anything up since before we left the circus).
Lots has happened between now and then, we finished with the circus and had a couple of days off before we moved to Liverpool to train at the Polichinelo Acrobatics course for 2 months. I've been coaching at the Liverpool Youth Circus since about halfway through the course and the kids are awesome, so much talent for such young people. Morwen started coaching with me a couple of weeks ago as well.
We were living in an area called Birkenhead on a road that ran down the middle of Birkenhead Park in a grand old 19th century mansion with a bunch of other people from the course, Laura (from Germany), Suvy (Finland) and Jenny (UK) in the house as well as Joe, Emily and Safire (all UK) living in vans or caravans on the driveway.
Polichinelo Acrobatics course:
What an amazing experience, I really wish I'd been updating this at least at the end of each week instead of over a month after the course ended.
The first day we arrived at the training space (Drill Grange Rd West gymnastic club), met the coaches, Anita and Marcelo Ramos, their son Jordan and Phil (one of the trampoline coaches from Drill) and our course mates. Anita took us through the formalities and paper work that needed to be done before we started training and then we headed into the first warm up of the course and what I believe was probably the toughest as Anita wanted to push us to see what level we were all at fitness wise. After we warmed up Marcelo told us about how they would run the course and that the first week would be a slow one just so they could work out what level of skill everyone was at and where our strengths and weaknesses lay. We did some basic tumbling (forwards and backwards rolls, cartwheels and twists), stretching and had a bit of a bounce on the trampolines (I forgot how much fun trampolines are!).
Day two was theoritically going to be the same but I was taken aside by Marcelo and we did some work on the trampoline as he wanted to start working on my goals for the course (I wanted to learn twisting back somersaults, twisting dive rolls and improve my handstands). Having never managed to do any back twisting before I was slightly hesitant when he asked me to just do a full twisting backsault (called a 'full' in the acrobatic jargon) and as I'd never done any work on them before it predictably resulted in me flailing in mid air and not landing on my feet, however it went better than I had expected and Marcelo encouraged me to try again but to change my technique for twisting and withing an hour I was landing fulls on my feet (albeit with a mat being thrown in underneath me to stop me from bouncing off the trampoline)! he also got me trying 1 1/2 twisting front somersaults (a 'rudi') to see if I could twist more than once, I didn't land any but it turns out that I'm not so bad at twisting as I had expected.
The rest of the week progressed along those lines with me working a fair amount on the trampolines, we did a bit of acro-balance (one of the things Morwen and I were looking forward to about the course), more tumbling and a little bit of handstands, the warm ups became seemingly less intense as the week went on.
Over the course everyone changed so much physically due to the warm ups and conditioning that we had to do as well as just the general physical nature of training for 5 hours a day 4 days a week. We had a great group of people on the course and we all got along really well and trusted each other easily which is really important when you're relying on someone to catch you as you fall or to throw in a mat to stop you from stacking it badly on a trampoline. From the 3rd week on we had to do an intense conditioning regime right after lunch which seemed like a brutal task at first but once I got into it and started going through it with Joe it didn't seem so bad, it turned out that Joe and I had a rather masochistic side that pushed us really hard and the best conditioning sessions were the ones when we pushed ourselves to our limits and reached a stage where despite the fact that our bodies were questioning why we were torturing them we couldn't stop grinning like maniacs. (I should point out that since the course has ended I haven't done a proper conditioning session but the next one starts in just over 2 months so I've got a bit of time to get back in shape again).
I was working towards learning fulls on the floor during the course and I nearly had them (I could do them on the airtrack for a while but I stopped working on the airtrack halfway through the course) except for one thing that I just couldn't get right when I went on to the floor. I think it was on the 5th week of the course that Marcelo got me trying to do double back somersaults on the trampoline, I started by doing straight back somersaults (when you don't tuck into a ball but stay straight during the somersaults) and landing on my back instead of my feet and then doing doubles in a harness to begin with. I got the hang of them fairly quickly and the next week I tried some out of the harness and thankfully never landed on my head, I over rotated fairly frequently and more often than not landed on my back from a double so then it was just a case of working out when to open out and land on my feet. Around the same time I also started learning double twisting back somersaults (double full) and again I had trouble with over rotating and would often land on my back, good fun though and I'm still training both of these skills now that I'm going to trampolining sessions every week.
Morwen discovered that she has a very flexible back during the course and learned to pull her foot up behind her and put her foot on her head (sometimes even her face) which bodes well for becoming a contortionist if she wants to and keeps training. Another thing that started working for her was walkovers and hopefully those will keep getting better. We learned some pretty cool acro-balance techniques to apply to our training and performance as well as some nice dance/filler type moves. We started learning standing in hands with me standing up as well but had a spill once which rattled Morwen a little and even though we got it again we've not been trying it since that day, our next thing to work on is hand to hand (Morwen doing a handstand on my hands) which I can base fairly well.
At the end of the course we had a little party to say goodbye to everyone and we all went out for dinner and a few drinks afterwards in Liverpool which was a great way to end 8 weeks of intense training and to say our last goodbyes to people (Most of them anyway, a few of the girls have stayed in Liverpool as well, we've also moved house to live with one the guys from the course and I caught up with Joe and Emily at a juggling convention a couple of weeks ago).
Since then I've been working more at The Black-E (where the youth circus is run from) and been working with the ADHD children as well which has given me a bit more of an idea about what I was like as a child and I sincerely apologise to everyone who had to deal with me when I was like that. It's been a good experience though and I'm looking forward to the rest of the time I'm going to spend coaching and working there.
After the last trampolining session I had at Drill I was talking with the head coach and the owner and they asked if I would be interested in coaching for them and after a bit of discussion the said that they would cover the costs of the courses I would have to do to become a qualified gymnastics coach in the UK and if I was with them for long enough they would continue to cover those costs right up to the highest level of coaching which I'm very interested in doing, they've extended the offer to Morwen as well and we have a meeting with them tonight to see when we can start.
I think that pretty much covers what's been happening since I last updated and I hope you've enjoyed reading my blog ;)
Until next time, stay charged and have fun!