Winter Warmers: An Outdoor Class...
Thu, 2008-12-04 06:51
Great class tonight. Absolutely freezing, full complement of practitioners suitably attired, and Thomas and myself with the lucky duty of driving everyone on through the London streets... who could ask for more?! And this particular class turned out to be a fine example of why training in adverse weather conditions can be so useful.
The problem, or perhaps one should see it as a bonus, was that ice and frost was covering everything in sight. Benches, walls, railings, the grass... slippery, cold and generally uninviting. After a thorough Thomas Des Bois upper-body warm-up, it was straight onto movement drills and routes to keep everyone warm until croissant-time at the end of the class. Simple movement, nothing fancy, and in good conditions - well lit, dry, rough surfaces - all of it would have been even simpler. However, dim those lights, scatter some frost around, and glaze those surface in patches of ice and you have a whole different story unfolding.
Suddenly every move becomes uncertain; every step a possible slip, every grab a possible miss, and every jump a possible butt-bruising. On a muscular level, you work so much more - everything has to contract that little bit more to keep a grip or land the jump, techniques have to be soft and light and very precise, and focus maintained at all times.
The spirit is alive and well in London, and refusing to be dampened by an English winter in full approach...
To their credit everyone threw themselves into it and got on with the exercises, and it is here in this kind of training that spirit is shaped the most. This is when you find out how much you can push yourself and just what kind of mental control you have over your body, which really does not want to make that jump onto an ice-covered wall. You learn the most about yourself in adversity - character is only truly formed when under pressure and tested properly. It's easy to be brave when there is no challenge to overcome; a breeze to be calm and at peace when sitting in a mountaintop temple retreat. But how will those traits stand up when faced with a great risk, or hurled into the maelstrom of a bustling metropolis? That is when such virtues really count, and only then that we can discover whether we have them or not.
And so we ended with the simplest of tasks. A fingergrip traverse along some sloped walls, maybe 30 metres in length. Usually this ia good warm-up for the arms, and you can bust out 3 or 4 reps there and back. But tonight, with glacial moss covering the walls and ice along the grip, even completing one full traverse without coming off was a physical feat. A better work-out for the abs you could not find, as we discovered! After Thomas and I went there and back we knew it was a tricky one, so big congratulations to Daryl who managed to get there. The task added a good half hour beyond the official end of the class, but I think those who were there clawing away at the ice with us found something useful in just attempting it, whether they made it or not.
The spirit is alive and well in London, and refusing to be dampened by an English winter in full approach... ;)