Wednesday, April 6, 2011


My sister and I signed up for a back handspring clinic. I explained -- so far as it is actually explainable -- the questionable logic behind our decision in a previous post, which basically boils down to this: We get to jump on a trampoline? I'm there!

By the way, I'm thinking of buying a trampoline for our backyard. Our lot is very small, just the size of say, a PT Cruiser, but not nearly as ugly. This means the trampoline would take up nearly the whole yard. Stella would really enjoy it, though, and I like the idea of having neighborhood kids over to play on it. (Our insurance company may like the idea less.)

I have to acknowledge that buying a trampoline is one of those fun activities that is supposedly "for the kids," but we all know it's the adult who's the motivating factor. Other activities that fit into this category are buying chocolate milk to drink, watching old Muppet videos on Youtube, and showing Stella how to put ketchup packets behind car tires.

I'm having some second thoughts about getting a trampoline due to safety concerns, though. I was doing some research on line, and I noticed that the American Association of Pediatrics does not like trampolines one bit. You would think that a professional group composed of pediatricians, whose income depends in part on  treating childhood injuries, would take to trampolines like a duck to water. If anything, I would think the American Association of Pediatrics would be sponsoring their OWN LINE of trampolines, and not the kind with the pesky safety nets, either. But apparently the AAP's approach to safety is similar to David's, who believes that when the kids take a bath, they should wear both a life vest and a helmet.
At any rate, a problem arose when my sister and I showed up at the handspring class, which was held at a little kids' gym. I had previously confirmed with someone at the gym that the "all ages, all abilities" back handspring class did not exclude thirty-somethings who never really got the hang of doing cartwheels even when they were eight. But when we actually turned up for the class, we got another story, and there was some debate about whether anyone over age 21 would be allowed to participate. I would like to brag that I still get carded occasionally, but then again I would also like to brag that I made it all the way through One Hundred Years of Solitude, and neither is true. There was no way I could pretend to be 21.

There was also some debate about whether the equipment they use to assist gymnasts in doing back handsprings would be big enough for my sister and I. I reassured the teacher of the clinic that that just because we were attending a back handspring clinic did not mean there was any chance that we would actually be DOING back handsprings, assisted or no. "So, you're maybe more at the level of doing round-offs?" asked the teacher, which made my sister and I laugh so hard we needed to sit down. We managed to bargain her down to handstand level, which still seemed a bit ambitious for us.

The end result was that we were allowed to take the class. And it was so much fun! The only other student was a sullen 16 year old gymnast whose gloom provided a stark contrast to my sister and my glee, and whose actual gymnastic skills also provided a stark contrast with our ineptitude. We did a variety of strength exercises on the floor, on the trampoline (!) and on the bars. One fun aspect of not being very good at an activity is that you have the potential to improve very quickly. (Note to self: bring this concept up at next performance meeting at work.)

The only injury happened when I banged my elbow on my head while doing a backward somersault. I have a nasty, painful bruise on my arm and no damage at all to my head. If you are hoping to make a joke about that, no worries, David's taken care of it.

We had so much fun that my sister and I are looking into joining an actual adult gymnastic class. We've got our eye on one that starts in the fall. Maybe we'll move on to doing gymnastics on the parallel bars, uneven bars, and the vault. David has already said he can watch the kids while I go to the gymnastics class, on one condition: he wants me to wear a helmet and a life vest.

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