Kristen’s Best Fitness Memory

Anybody else remember the elation of nailing that first roundoff back handspring? Credit: Kieth Allison, Flickr

What’s your best fitness memory? That’s the Question of the Week that each FBG is asking herself! Inspiration for this post comes from the super cool Brooks Running Run Happy campaign!

As seems to be the case with my fellow FBGs, I sure have a lot of amazing fitness memories. However, two of my absolute favorites—the Leadman Tri and Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon—are things I’ve written about recently, and, well, I think this is a great opportunity for me to take a little jog down Memory Lane, right?

Kristen’s Best Fitness Memory

The year was 1990 (or close to it, anyway). I was going into sixth grade, which meant that, at that point, I’d been in tumbling classes for six years or so, and I loved it. Never mind that, even though I was often the youngest in my class, I was also the tallest– by a good bit. I mean, hey, when has height ever held a gymnast back?

(Oh, right.)

And, well, I don’t have much natural flexibility, but it was something I worked at daily and I’d gotten to a point where I could do the splits (on one side, anyway) and easily arch my back enough to touch my toes to my nose. (I’ve, uhh, lost that talent in my adult years. By a long shot.)

But what I did have was strength, and my tumbling super power (if I had one) was being able to walk on my hands for, like, ever. I could walk the length of a basketball court, no sweat. Of course, that wasn’t enough. Like every young gymnast, I wanted to be able to do a roundoff back handspring. I wanted it so badly I dreamed about it.

In class each week, I couldn’t wait until we got to the part where we practiced back handsprings. I could do one—just one—standing, but the whole landing from a roundoff and throwing myself backwards onto my hands? It just scared the crap out of me. Which, in turn, pissed me off to no end. So, basically, I was a scared and angry 10-year-old (and probably a total cliche, right?).

One summer day, I was in my back yard, practicing. I kept trying to reduce the amount of time between landing from the roundoff and going into the back handspring. It got shorter and shorter until, suddenly, there was no hesitation. I just went for it, and it was glorious. I screamed for my parents to come out (which surely didn’t terrify them at all), and did it again. And again. And over and over until my arms were shaky, and I absolutely had to stop.

From there, I was able to easily transition into doing multiple back handsprings in a row, which is a pretty fun party trick for a middle-schooler. Sadly, in the next couple of years I gave up dance and tumbling in order to focus on team sports, but that feeling of accomplishment never went away. And I got it back, just a bit, about 10 years ago when I decided I wanted to be able to do it again. It was kind of like riding a bike, and came back pretty quickly, but went away even faster when I stopped working at it.

I think I’ve probably done my last back handspring at this point, but hey—never say never, right?

Do we have any former tumblers or gymnasts out there? Do you remember any of your first tricks? Aerials, back handsprings, back tucks? —Kristen

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  1. Catie says:

    WHOOP WHOOP! Former gymnast (10 years…age 2-12) right here! Then I moved on to cheer in 7th grade and decided I was way too awesome (or…uh…way to tall and not coordinated enough…) to be a cheerleader and moved on to track, basketball, softball and cross country.