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Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body


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So, after many years in the making and being recently announced last year with the advent of the http://www.gymnasticbodies.com website, and the announcement of the book being finished by the publishers and sent off to the mailing house--- it's here!

After a long, and I do mean long day of work on Monday; I came home to notice there was a package for me on the table. Opening it turned out to be " Building the Gymnastics Body " and the 5 DVD's that go with it in tandem. After cleaning up, I immediately set out to perusing it and going over it while watching " Heroes " to finish about 10:30PM.

Just in case you want to take a look at the Table of Contents, it can be seen here:

http://gymnasticbodies.com/forum/viewto ... e+contents

Starting with the book goes over the story of how Coach Sommer came to his methods currently from his time as a competitive athlete and his retirement workout methods. Next up a chapter on the necessary tools to train and basic terminology with pictures of all.

For instance there was a progression with the L sit I was not familiar with which is an important go between especially towards working toward a Vsit. Another further explanation of proper voluming and sets which had only been postulated based on prior articles and some of Coach Sommer's posts on his board. A thorough guide on pushups and dips with about half of the variations being intermediary important ones I was unaware of in mastery both of these movements.

Another instance comes to my mind that I had done several of his movements before, when I was considerably stronger in better shape years back but with progressions toward each movement rather than just trying it which worked for me because I was strong enough at the time.

Some epiphanies came about when I trained similar movements, just playing with them which were further explained as to why they were beneficial movements other than my tinkering. While I remember my trial and error, I didn't really have any data of confirming what I thought as to my conclusions of the variations I came up with. Nice to see them again.

All in all, while I was familiar with some of the content, it did well to fill various gaps as well as into programming and why and what haltered my own progress ( besides proper recovery protocols ). Right after the beginning it also went into what the other 4 books are coming to finish the 5 volume set. One is on advanced ring training elements, joint preparation and active flexibility, mastering the handstand, and advanced dynamic strength work programming(?) and drills.

I'll be going over the DVD's probably tomorrow morning as I am feeling the sleep fairy coming on hard as I finish this write-up.

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Can you give an idea on how much of it requires equipment and how much can be done with literally nothing. I have two stools I use for dips and a tree branch as my pull-up bar. Would it be worthwhile for me to get? How are the pictures? Full color? Step-by-step images?

Look forward to hearing about the quality of the DVD both in terms of technical aspects (menus, features, color quality, music, etc..) and the actual features on it (tutorials, demonstrations, etc...)

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Ryan, good suggestions. I wasn't really thinking of it in it's technical aspects as to it's layout and all.

Images are step by step sequences. They are B&W besides the front and back. THis is probably a cost saving measure.

2 stools for dips and supporting and a bar will get you pretty far. I'd reccomend making a set of pvc parallettes to eventually work full ROM HSPU and some other stuff as well. Actually, I have a set of parallettes ( a combo parallette-pullup bar ) but I use my hex dumbbells more often. Fractional weights and tubing also come into play but I don't have either at this moment.

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Sorry for going off topic, but I'd love to be contributing with a review of my own or at least commenting, but I HAVEN'T BOUGHT THE BOOK!!!

The reason being the exchange rate - of all things! :roll:

I would be paying > R550 for something that shouldn't cost much over R300. And the Rand is always low for a student anyway...

Really frustrated!!! Can't wait.

btw, I really like the idea of b&w pics, something about them immediately associates them with instruction or directions if you know what i mean.

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I hear you on the exchange rates.

I was lucky, I paid for the book & dvd's when the exchange rate was about $1 AUD = $0.97 USD.

Lucky for me, because now it is $1 AUD = $0.61 USD


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I started watching the static DVD today. Looks good, easy menu, nice on the eyes. I have to figure out a way for them to just play through methinks since I did not see a button to be played to play all. So, I have to play each one individually for right now.

Right now, I'm stuck at tucked L-sit because I can't find the dvd player control. I might have to watch these through the playstation 2 because I'm sure my roomates are not interested in myself playing them in the living room.

Looks good so far!

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Sounds awesome, I can't wait! I will gladly be frugal to save for all of Coach's stuff!

Coach, I am not sure if anyone has asked or if you have said anything about it but do you hold seminars? If so when/how much? I know you are really busy though.

Thanks in advance and good luck with all your products! I know MANY people are going to grab them asap.

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The First Gymnastic Bodies Seminar

The first Gymnastic Bodies seminar is scheduled to be held January 17-18, 2009 in Tehachapi, California (about 90 north of L.A.) I will post additional details once the fulfillment house completes the shipping on the Pre-Arrival Sale orders.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Well, I finished the DVD's last night. Pretty neat.

I really wished there was a function to play them all together in a row per each DVD. Manually selecting each is a bit more time consuming. It looks real pretty and I think it was authored on a Mac. I have half a mind to try to create some for myself with the functionality to loop them together, but I probably won't. They would be really good again for teaching the movements to a group. I wouldn't want to bother with the book for groups. It's fine for person to person. They also bridge the book to real life motion if you are unfamiliar with a lot of the content. This is why the book mainly fills the gaps in my knowledge base like it will with some of the other gymnastics coaches I know of or in the CF community ( or StevenLow and a few other of the ex gymnasts [ let it be known at my peak I was just a basic gymnast and it was through training, lectures, and materials I learned a lot more ]).

At one point, I thought, where are rope climbs? That is part of basic Gymnastic Strength Training™. Hopefully it's in the book on Dynamic Strength. While many home enthusiasts probably do not have a rope set up at home, it's commonplace at any gymnastics gym and getting there at many CF affiliates.

While it's still aimed at basic gymnastics strength, don't kid yourself. There are some leadups to insane strength like elevators on rings and this one that is just bizarre. You will grin at what Coach Sommer calls "curls." These curls aren't just for the girls.

There are a lot of progressions for things like Chest roll to HS and floor glute ham, I never thought of. However, I'm not the most creative person when it comes to conditioning. When I got into gymnastics, I literally learned from the compulsory book and that's what I did. That was it besides a 30 year old book of pictures about gymnastics. There was another for body flags which I ended up finding myself doing.

There were a lot of dip variations that were neat. Some are kind of insane. Beyond just a ring dip.

Crossfitters will probably be dismayed at Sommer's idea of a kipping MU. This is especially show on video. While my ring kip is pretty lame ( False grip, arch to hollow, pull and push to get up ) it's nothing like a typical CrossFit kipping MU.

There is an interesting tip toward the orientation of the shoulders in pullup and hanging leg lifts. I find it interesting for the latter because it was something I played around with Roger Harrell once. We just shrugged and figured do them regular and the other new way.

Umm, that caps it. I wish there was a way to just play them and loop them because it would be fun to just keep on a dvd player and tv in the gym.

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