Coordination and Grace

No. Not the WOD Grace, but the descriptive word. Dictionary.com defines ‘grace’ as “elegance or beauty of form or movement”. It is my belief that my LACK of grace and coordination is at least partially responsible for my lack of forward progress with so many different moves.

Some moves require nothing but brute strength. Bench pressing, squatting, deadlifting, push-presses, etc.  These moves are all about you vs. the weight on the bar and strength will get you there. The stronger you are, the more weight you can put on the bar. The more you work on these moves, the stronger your muscles get. Of course, you must have good form, which is why we all started with the PVC or the 15 pound bar. But once the form is down, brute strength gets you the rest of the way.

Other moves are all about cardio. The rower, the Assault bike, running, even wall balls are generally all about cardio. It doesn’t take a lot of brute strength to toss a 14 pound wall ball into the air. And while I admit there is a bit of coordination in the timing, what it really takes is cardio strength to continue to move that small weight a large number of times. If you want to get better at running, you do more running. But it doesn’t require brute strength to run; anyone can do it. (For those of you arguing about coordination require to run, I would point out that humans are bipeds and designed to run, and that coordination, barring injury or cognitive dysfunction, is basically built in).

Many of Crossfit’s moves require a small amount of coordination combined with some strength and some cardio. Thrusters, box jumps, bear crawls, sled pushes are all good examples here. The stronger you are, the more weight you can move, but when the WOD calls for large numbers of thrusters (we had to do 75 the other day), you need good cardio as well. Like wall balls, these moves also require a certain amount of coordination to get the timing down and to save the athlete that little speck of efficiency in order to move without becoming overly tired.

And THEN we have the Olympic lifts and the gymnastics moves: clean and jerk, snatch, pull-ups, toes to bar, muscle ups and I’m even going to put double unders here because they require more coordination than other moves. Yes, there is certainly some strength involved in the Olympic lifts, pull-ups etc and yes, there is a lot of cardio required to do many consecutive double unders. But these moves are also about coordination and grace and getting your body to do certain things at certain times.

And what I’ve discovered, is that I seem to lack grace and coordination. I’m pretty dang strong. My cardio isn’t great, but it’s slowly improving. And yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that what is preventing me from not just mastering but being able to simply do them at all, isn’t strength. It’s coordination. It’s lack of grace. I watch videos, read, and practice and yet….I still cannot do these moves. My coaches will say, move “this way” do “this” with your body and yet, I don’t seem to be able to tell my body to do these things. And when I do (box jumps anyone?), I feel like I am a clumsy sort, flopping around, flailing about.

Dogs Failing at Being Dogs

Now it’s possible that my feeling about how I look and how I actually look are two different things, though when I see videos, I basically see a manatee attempting to jump rope. I lie…a manatee can probably jump better than I can, but I’m sure you get the point. Looking back over my athletic career in high school and college, I was probably really not any different. I had a lot of strength and gravitated to those positions/sports. I was a keeper in soccer, catcher in softball and threw the shotput on the track team. All things that require more strength and less grace, where launching yourself into the air and landing hard were expected, where brute strength was applauded.

I have no idea how one acquires grace, balance and coordination except through years of careful practice and more work. Something I’m more than willing to give!

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