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Great playgrounds for adults

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And of course, younger people who will turn into adults.

We all need a starting point for our skills. Seeing David Belle or vintage footage of Georges Hébert, or contestants on American Ninja Warrior sure is cool, and we tend to forget that it’s a long way from the day they began training, however early in life.

I have been posting some pictures on Instagram (follow me @philippetil) of various spots where I train myself or my clients, as well as photos or clips of drills anyone can try. The prerequisites are to have fun and keep practicing till getting better, until eventually, the movement, wherever it sits on the difficulty scale, becomes “natural”. A simple vault over a bench can be super easy for the advanced, difficult for the novice. But when the novice “owns it”, it’s one step closer to the next level of difficulty.

The clip below shows a fun range of things one can do, which look simple, but require a minimal level of agility and stick-to-itiveness to not bail out of some moves, but when you do, it’s safe to do so.


And, since it’s difficult, although I suspect American Ninja Warrior type facilities will start popping up soon, with either fixed or modular obstacles, many parks are actually offering what I recently thought was on the endangered parks list: Parkour-like stations, obstacles, the very kind we were complaining about were needed and non-present. 3 such parks in the Santa Monica, CA, area offer fantastic options.

One is Yahoo! Park, off of Broadway and 26th St. There is a set of parallel bars, monkey bars, 2 pull-up bars of different levels, and a free-standing ladder. The park also sports a nice little grassy area and a small makeshift track. Check it out!

Another is Clover Park, off of Ocean Park Blvd, right behind the Santa Monica Airport. This is where I’ve been playfully training recently (I mean playfully because I had fun doing it, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t exert or push myself). There is a mile-long track with “obstacles” or stations along the way: a progressive vault (low to medium high), balance beams (squared off or rounded), pull-up bars, standing ladders, monkey bars, incline posts, rope-climb, posts to climb, dip-station/low vaulting station, push-up bars, step-up or jump-up & balance station, parallel bars to swing, dip or hand walk etc. Explore its photos here.

Finally, the most famous one is the original Muscle Beach (not the one in Venice for bodybuilders, I am referring to the one South of the Santa Monica Pier) with the traveling rings, regular rings, rope climb, parallel bars, parallettes, pull-up bars, balance beams, gymnastics “mushrooms”, twisted poles, boulders, for kids and adults alike! Plus it’s on the beach! Take a look!

Don’t know what to do? Get the Fundamental Exercises, as well as the Functional Exercises and pick a few moves in various categories. Don’t dismiss the easy moves, as they can build your confidence and are great on a low-energy day, and don’t ignore the hard ones, as even attempting them is work in itself. My friend Adam T. Glass once posted online that “your body tracks that”, meaning all reps count, good or bad ones.

“Keep the goal the goal” -Dan John

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I believe Dan John said that, and even if he paraphrased it, it doesn’t matter, I attach it to him.

Dan was recently also #1 on the top 40 list of most relevant trainers. I never met the guy, which is kinda funny considering I’ve attended most workshops offered by Pavel Tsatsouline, who lives near me and with whom I had coffee recently to catch up. Together they authored “Easy Strength” and I am even following a program of Dan’s, a 5 days a week program revolving around 5 chosen exercises (in my case, the barbell Bench Press, the barbell Deadlift, the kettlebell Clean & Jerk, the kettlebell Snatch and the double kettlebell Front Squat).

The expressing titling this blog post extends beyond that of a fitness goal, or how to stay on track with a workout plan with discipline, motivation, commitment and vision. It actually applies to the release of the second installment of The Natural Method trilogy of books based on Georges Hébert’s Practical Guide to Physical Education. My goal is the release of the book in Amazon’s Kindle store, which as of now is 5 days behind schedule. Its release remains the goal nevertheless.

In fitness much like in life, we experience setbacks, roadblocks, challenges as well as favorable currents. An injury, like an ankle sprain or tennis elbow or shoulder pain can set back our training. Then, we can, with the help of a qualified physical therapist or a personal trainer, get back on track. The goal remains the goal, which is to achieve it, to see the task to completion.

The content of the book is done: the upper body exercises with the arm movements and arm positions; the lower body exercises with leg flexion, extension, single leg balance; the trunk stability and mobility (which lack thereof are too common issues people experience and need to be addressed in injury prevention) and of course the break down of proper breathing patterns and breathing exercises. It doesn’t matter where you train, whether you’re a personal trainer in Los Angeles or in Minneapolis (well, I guess it matters when building up resistance to cold, my money is on the trainers in Minnesota vs the trainers in Southern California!)

The cover, the html formatting for the Kindle, the option to download some training lesson plans on the web site and the logistics associated with that are the slight delays, as well as my webmaster’s recent bout with the flu and the business of New Year’s resolutions (yes, many people make resolutions not just in fitness, but also in business and he got swamped). And just like in fitness, where a personal trainer can choose to establish a business around injury prevention and proper movement patterns, with a well designed workout plan, there is still the element for the unknown, the accumulation of circumstances (like the cumulative injury cycle) that lead to a delay.

But if you have a plan, a solid plan, get back to it, adapt or adjust where necessary and your vision is focused on that clear goal, following the plan will get you to that goal.