Those of you who have been following 12MA for a while now might remember that even just a little over six years ago, I could barely do a single push up.
And sure, these days I can bust out enough push ups, pull ups, and single leg squats to make my former self proud, yet I never take that strength for granted.
I remember what it felt like to barely be able to hoist my suitcase over my head on an airplane, and the feeling of embarrassment and reddening of my cheeks as I held the entire airplane up. I remember how I would struggle during a hike or get incredibly anxious before trying a new sport or activity because I was so worried I’d be the weakest, the least skilled, the most out of shape person out there.
Which is why deciding I really, really wanted to learn to do a a handstand was such a big, scary, yet incredibly meaningful step for me.
Going After the Impossible
Although it’s now one of my favorite things in the world, I never did gymnastics growing up and am by no means a natural gymnast. I was a mediocre high school basketball player, and quit playing soccer before my freshman year of high school because I heard the coach was scary (he was, but I still should have stuck it out). In fact, I never considered myself an athlete until just a few years ago, when I discovered I did, in fact, enjoy challenging myself and pushing my body to its physical limits.
So when I first decided I wanted to be able to do a handstand, I honestly didn’t really believe I’d actually ever be able to do one.
Handstands were not a natural goal for me. I have long, stringy arms (my nickname growing up was “spaghetti arms”) and lack the natural balance and coordination that most gymnasts and dancers possess (or, more likely, develop as a young child). But to me, going after the handstand meant going after the impossible. It meant pushing myself to the edge of my capabilities, and discovering just how tough and disciplined I really was.
It’s been a journey of self discovery, full of ups and downs, frustration and joy, and I wouldn’t take back a moment of it.
My Handstand Journey
I’ve written about my handstand journey before so I won’t go over all the details of it, but basically I spent the first year or so totally flailing before I started to make any progress at all.
Whereas now I get people coming up to me all the time when I’m doing handstands in the park asking how I ever mastered them (something that still surprises me and makes me proud), a few years ago I could barely hold one against a wall.
The truth is that it took a lot of time and dedication to figure out the right approach to training handstands before I started to make any progress at all. But once I did—it was magical.
Because now, I know that if it’s something I truly want and am willing to work hard for, I can do anything I put my mind to—even if it might take a while.
You Can Learn to Handstand Too
Next week, we’ll be releasing our first ever handstand course here on 12 Minute Athlete.
In it, we’ll walk you step by step through every progression, strength exercise, and flexibility exercise I’ve found to be helpful over my handstand journey and during the 6-Week Handstand Challenge we did last year.
I’m very proud of this course, because as you can tell handstands have meant a lot to me over the past few years, and I know if you give them a shot, they’ll be amazing for you, too.
I can’t wait to see all your handstand photos and hear about your progress! Keep an eye out for the official announcement next week.