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Tumbl TALK

 

April 01, 2014

Communities nationwide have begun to take a more proactive approach to fighting the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic. Healthy Kids Festivals, Family Fun Runs, and Kids' Fitness programs are popular events for families to learn about what resources are available to support a kid’s healthy lifestyle.

For many communities, the catalyst for inspiration begins with the heart of passionate people, like Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci in Oklahoma. Over 10,000 kids came to the Bart and Nadia Sport Experience this past February to try their hand at kayaking, tennis, slacklining, hockey, basketball and of course, gymnastics. FREE.

Another great nationwide push for kids activity is the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Over 1,500 Y’s across the country are taking part in Healthy Kids Day, holding free community events that are open to all kids and families and filled with fun, active play and educational opportunities. Build A Happier, Healthier Kid based on the incredible potential inside your child. Find a YMCA Kids Day event near you at: http://www.ymca.net/healthy-kids-day/

A local example of communities coming together to promote kid’s fitness is the Beaverton Activity Center just down the road from Tumbl Trak Headquarters. The Activity Center began in July of 2011, when more than forty people gathered to discuss the possibility of re-purposing the old school, built in 1936. Declining K-12 student enrollment forced a consolidation of school buildings rendering this building underutilized and available for alternative community functions. The school is currently owned by the Beaverton Rural School District. It is located on a major highway in the heart of Beaverton, within easy walking distance of existing schools and the downtown business area. The volunteers toured the old school and began to discuss and envision the many possibilities the building held. The unanimous consensus was to pursue the goal of turning the building into an Activity Center for all ages.

The following fall, the BAC opened with seven classes with 58 registrants. Now, in 2014, programming has increased to fourteen classes with over 130 registrants. There is a pre-school, the Beaverton branch of the Gladwin County Library and Beaverton historical museum, a coffee shop, a Mid-Michigan physical therapy and rehab facility, and a fitness center. Tumbl Trak employee, Tammy Berry, has been teaching Beginning Tumbling two nights a week since January of 2013, and currently has a waiting list to attend her classes.

Ask yourselves how you can help with an existing healthy kids program, or, perhaps you can be the champion in your community that inspires children to get moving and love it!

 

March 03, 2014

Success in a Back Handspring and in Life

Coaches by one definition are those who assist athletes to compete. Whether this is the case, coaches are also teachers who help students achieve success in small steps, as I mentioned last month, after our visit from Jeff Lulla. His personal best approach to teaching and learning is universal.

Repetition, consistency and prioritization are three more tools that teachers and coaches need to help their students or athletes achieve success. Repetition is necessary so that activities whether mental or physical become habits. Consistency,to repeat these activities is needed as well, and prioritizing which activities to encourage, is equally important.

An example that I recently observed was a student learning a back handspring. She had been performing prerequisite skills of good handstand work with walls and mats, flybacks onto a soft mat, and jump backs over a barrel with and without a pit, for some time. Yesterday was a good time to see if the repetitions and consistency had paid off. A few warm up reps jumping back over the barrel into the pit, reminded her of the priorities of jumping hard, aiming her body backwards, and stretching that body out, over the barrel. When she seemed ready, I offered a new possible step of taking out the barrel and jumping back from the bottom of our soft Pit Pillow mat into the loose foam. After a little thought as to whether she felt safe and confident to move to this next small step, she threw that first back handspring, with no physical help from me, and with great excitement, which we both enjoyed.

These early attempts were not perfect, but, since safety and confidence were my priorities, they were huge successes to me. While it is always tempting for a teacher or coach to want to add a “now just straighten your legs, keep them together, keep your head in, reach more”, and a few other helpful suggestions, I was able to remember those priorities and to offer no other advice than to enjoy that success. Who can remember the joy of those first successes? The big ones come rarely, but the small ones can come often, if you allow them to.

Later, when the confidence is there, as was the case, we moved right on to those soft Pit Pillows on our inclined end of the Tumbl TRAK. There was no doubt or balking, since my advice was to just stand and feel whether her body (really her mind) was ready for that step. Guess what, it was. Again the first Back handsprings were not perfect, but were very safe, nice and long, and extremely successful. Since she had seen others performing back handsprings on the floor her next question was, can I do that now? My response was to enjoy your new success, and not to rush the process.

Keep in mind that success may be fluid. What is successful the first weeks or months of learning, may not be the same as what we would ask for and expect after a time. While success was definitely overcoming fear, and developing confidence in the beginning, it may shift to what control can be made of those legs, arms or head, at the appropriate time.

Actually, I would advise no back handsprings on any flat or firm surface until the content of that skill is perfected to show the open shoulders, head in, legs together and straight, and the long, flat, minimally arched back that we want to help her develop. So, after the priority is to be safe and over come any reasonable fear of the skill, then the priority shifts to perfecting the shapes. This fits in well with Neil Resnick’s suggestion of learning two back handsprings in series on soft, bouncy and inclined surfaces with quality, before attempting a round off to back handspring anywhere. [Read More]

 

February 13, 2014

Lets face it...all gyms feel like they could use a gym that is about twice as big. On top of that it seems like all kids prefer to use competitive equipment. However, most gyms do not have 8 sets of bars to accommodate all rec classes, compulsory kids, optional kids, alternative programs, etc. I have been to many gyms where the competitive kids have to find other things to do or different places to be so that the rec classes can function. "My kids have a competition coming up" is a very common retort. So how can we assure that the team kids or rec kids are getting a great workout and preparing for the future while not even touching the competitive set of bars?

I'll give you a couple of my favorite drills for kids to do with boys equipment which might be the only thing available at any given time. (We were able to provide video of three of the drills. The video link is attached below)

1) Pulling to an inverted hang on Rings. This is a great strength exercise and targets a muscle which is difficult to hit (the Latissimus Dorsi). This will help those students struggling on bars (a very common issue). Can you think of a kid working on that dreaded kip? One of the components, especially on the final phase, is using those Lat muscles to pull the bar down to your hips. Many kids haven't used that muscle group very often until this point. If you can start working on that strength earlier it won't take as long to get the skill! They can begin in a tuck shape and as they become stronger, they can start straightening their legs to make it more difficult.

2) Leg swings on the Pommel Horse. I worked at a gym that didn't have a competitive boys program but still had the pommel horse which rarely got used. This piece of equipment can be so useful. Boys take for granted what they are learning when they do leg swings which girls don't often get introduced to until later. Leg swings teach kids how to shift their weight and lean from side to side. It builds strength on the arms as they have to support more of their weight on one arm when at the highest point. Lastly, learning to shift their weight helps with pirouettes later on in the competitive career.

3) Tap swings on rings hanging from a bar. It is so hard to be able to feel where your body wants to naturally tap. When you put the athlete on rings they have to exaggerate the body shapes and will better understand the tapping mechanics. Plus, it is super fun! Most kids will be a little hesitant the first time and then it is hard to get them off that drill.

4) Fly aways on rings hanging from a bar. Once they get the tap swings down and are ready for the flyaway start them with an easy drill that won't scare them. Many kids are scared that they will kick their feet on the bar when they do this skill. After all they probably saw someone do that in the gym or on a blooper reel. Having them use rings brings their feet away from the bar and takes the fear from the skill. This way they can focus on the shaping instead of being afraid. Once again, they will start with hesitancy and then you won't be able to stop them.

5) Swinging on Parallel Bars. One of the scariest skills to learn correctly on bars is casting. In order to learn a good cast the kids have to lean their shoulders forward past their hands and past the bar. No wonder they are scared of doing that skill. I know when I was younger, I was not very strong in that shape. Also, it is not a very natural thing to do. One way we can combat the scariness and the lack of strength is to let the kids play with swinging on the Parallel Bars. It teaches the kids to lean forward and backwards at their own rate. When they build strength in their shoulders and feel more comfortable with it they will swing bigger and bigger.

All of these are valuable lessons that most kids don't get introduced to until later. If you can teach the lessons earlier on it will build a base which is much more broad and will translate into a better physical background!

 

January 06, 2014

We had a very positive & productive visit to the Twisters’ Gym from Jeff Lulla in early December. His “Personal Best for Success” approach to teaching really helped me close the circle on why we should teach and coach in a positive manner, and offer many small steps to learning a skill. These small steps, called progressions, allow gymnasts to experience success at each level. They also allow coaches to give positive feedback-- praise that is genuine-- for each accomplishment.

In his courses, he presented his idea of teaching students by their individual success, and the praise and reinforcement that an instructor can provide by noting each athlete’s personal improvement, not by comparing their efforts to the performance of others. He called this a “Personal Best” approach, and it is certainly not new. However, [based on my observations] it is not always used to teach recreational gymnastics, or other activities.

In a class, students start at different places, have different abilities, learn at different paces, and learn in many different ways. Jeff’s suggestion was to look at where they start and aim for small goals to achieve, goals that offer each student more opportunities for success, giving each individual the confidence to continue to strive for more improvement. It is up to the instructor to identify these small steps, explain them, and praise effort toward achieving them.

This all seems a little obvious and familiar, since we often call it “using progressions.” However, we often forget the process and concentrate on the content of teaching. We want to help the student learn that pullover, forgetting that not all students are strong enough, or otherwise physically or mentally prepared to perform the entire skill. Let’s break down that pullover into small steps:
1. Straight-arm hang from bar
2. Bent-arm hang from bar
3. Kick up and tough toes to bar
4. Pull knees or thighs or knees to bar
5. Jump to a support on bar
6. Bend over bar, return to a support (“woodpecker”)
7. Walk up a “pullover wall” pulling feet over to a support
8. Pullover using a low bar (low for the child”e.g. chest-high)
9. Pullover using a higher bar (head-high, and higher)

There are many steps where success is more likely, and the teacher can give earned praise.
The idea of using this process of teaching is at least as important as the content of those progressions. As I often say-- the equipment we develop and sell is not useful without the knowledge to use it properly. The next time you are thinking, “How can I help this student be a success and learn today,” consider identifying and celebrating the small steps.

Next month, I will address how to apply “Personal Best” and small-step teaching to competitive gymnastic training.

 

December 16, 2013

Using a pit for teaching skill progressions requires some creativity and training for both coaches and athletes. The main reason to use a pit for training is to help athletes overcome fear and build confidence in the beginning phases of learning a skill. It’s not about perfecting form. It is about learning technique.

At Twisters Gymnastics, athletes are enjoying “playing” in their new pit. Take a look at this video which highlights some suggestions for starting the progression toward a good back handsprings for young athletes less than 60 lbs. As always, spot when necessary, whenever safety is a concern.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ-h75rOxto&feature=youtu.be

Steps to a beginner back handspring “ using a PIT!

SAFETY FALL ~
(A) Stand in the pit on a mat island (soft mat on loose foam) and fall backward.
(B) Stand on deck and fall backward into loose foam, or mat island. ***Hold arms across chest for safety!

FLYBACKS ~
(A)Stand in pit on a mat island and jump backward onto soft mat positioned slightly higher on deck.
(B) Stand on deck and jump backward onto mat island in pit.
(C) Stand on mat island in the pit and jump backward, landing in loose foam.

DISTANCE and SHAPING should be emphasized
Use confidence inspiring language, “Look how far you are jumping all on your own!” “That jump will turn into a great backhandspring!”

Using a BARREL in the pit ~
(A) Fall backward over the barrel, hands reaching to loose foam.
(B) Jump backward over the barrel, hands land in loose foam or mat island.

READY to try a BACKHANDSPRING?? ~ Both coach AND athlete should agree to remove the barrel and go for it! Stand on the edge of a mat island and backhandspring into loose foam.

Back Handspring 2 ~ Stand on edge of mat island and back handspring to hands on a thin soft mat over loose foam.

Back Handspring 3 ~ Stand on front edge of a mat island and back handspring to hands landing on same mat. (Inclined is ok!)

Coaches Notes: Before you start, keep in mind that most kids arch too much, resulting in a short back handspring. Try having different sized barrels for different sized kids. Set up 2 stations “ one for taller kids, one for shorter kids. Challenge kids to jump over the barrel without touching it. Your beginners will increase their confidence and develop longer back handsprings. Have fun

 

November 01, 2013

ARE YOU COACHING TO THE TEST?
By Michelle Kocan, Tumbl Trak Ambassador


I am intrigued by my teacher friends and parents around me talking about standardizing tests and how they have to teach to the test or that their kids are missing out because they just learn for the test. That got me thinking….Do I coach to the test? Are my kids only learning enough to get good scores at the meets? Is this really the best way to coach, help create great gymnasts…

So here are some of my thoughts.

First we need to have good basics, we do them every day. Our kids know that these have to be done correctly to move on to the more challenging skills. When your athletes understand this concept they are more willing to make the basics the best they can every practice.

Second we use a progressive nature to teach skills. We spend a lot of time doing drills for skills. We may introduce drills for a skill they may not use for years. We do the drills so that when it is time to perform the skill the confidence is there. We have lead ups for almost any skill you can think of and if we don’t have one we will create one. I love it when the kids say,”Coach Michelle, you have that look, what drill are you thinking of today”. [Read More]

 

October 08, 2013

GYMCONUSA 2014

GymConUSA, an all-new gymnastics conference designed for Coaches, Club Owners and Industry Professionals, will conduct its second annual program June 16-18, 2014 in Las Vegas at the Mirage Resort.

To register or find out more information visit www.gymconusa.com!

 

September 10, 2013

National Congress 2013

Tumbl Trak had a lot of fun celebrating its 25th anniversary at the 2013 National Congress in Hartford, CT. Our celebration took place at our booth on Friday and included former Olympic and World Champion, Chellsie Memmel, free giveaways, trivia contests, party hats, balloons and chocolate!
[Read More]

 

August 01, 2013

Enhancing how gymnasts train for over 25 years


SOMETIME IN THE MID ’80s, Tumbl Trak™ Founder, Doug Davis, saw a presentation by Tony Gehman at the Philadelphia Congress. His video showed gymnasts performing high level tumbling skills off a double mini-tramp into a loose foam pit. Another influence for Doug was the teaching experiences he had with master coach, Leonard Isaacs. Leonard’s philosophies emphasized well thoughtout progressions for learning skills resulting in a reduced need for traditional spotting. Small-step progressions work well only with the right equipment and knowledge. Doug decided to go to work on developing the right equipment. [Read More]

 

July 03, 2013

What kind of coach are you?

As Tumbl Trak celebrates our 25th anniversary this year, we have spent quite a bit of time recently, reflecting on the past - how we’ve grown and what we have learned that has formed our company’s philosophy. Our summer schedule of celebration us underway with 4 of the 8 Choose Your Habits Coaches Clinics complete. The clinic introduction begins with Doug Davis, Founder and President of Tumbl Trak, sharing his coaching philosophy - a compilation of his experiences, teaching methods, and beliefs. [Read More]

 

June 01, 2013

Tumbl Trak “Choose Your Habits” Coaches Clinics are underway!

On May 23rd, Tumbl Trak Headquarters in Mount Pleasant, Michigan paved the way for this summer’s “Choose Your Habits” coaches clinics, sponsored by Tumbl Trak. Tumbl Trak staff hosted the event in the new studio warehouse, featuring coach clinician Neil Resnick and Tumbl Trak ambassador, Michelle Kocan. [Read More]

 

May 01, 2013

Fitness is Fun, Right?

Kid Fit 2-Go has been running youth fitness programs in Oregon and Washington for over three years.

Like many other communities around the U.S., our local schools are being challenged to bring directed fitness activities to the students they serve. Kid Fit 2-Go began by setting up fitness circuits indoors and outdoors at special events, and for after school programs. Although that was a great start, we really wanted to reach a larger audience. This spring, we found our larger audience!

Kid Fit 2-Go, held our largest PE event ever at May Street Elementary, in Hood River, Oregon. We conducted two camps in two days for 500 students grades K-5. [Read More]

 

April 01, 2013

The last week of March was full of excitement at the Tumbl Trak Headquarters as we hosted several top notch coaches from around the country to debut a new concept in training balance beam.

Leonard Isaac, Master Coach and clinician led a discussion with renowned National Team Coach, Tammy Biggs; Twistar’s Beam Coach Kathryn Geddert, Olympic medalist and World Champion, Chellsie Memmel and Tumbl Trak Staff. Thanks to several Twistar’s athletes, the demonstration was documented with an array of skills showing the benefits of working balance beam using lines and numbers to guide corrections and help athletes stay on the beam. Look for the new product announcement for this beam in 4-6 weeks.

 

March 04, 2013

As mentioned in the February newsletter, Doug's Blog is transitioning into a company-wide blog called, Tumbl TALK. Tumbl TALK will focus on best coaching practices and coaching theory with contributions made from the entire Tumbl Trak staff and Tumbl Trak Ambassadors.

Progressions - by Tammy

As I begin another session for the Recreational Program in my hometown of Beaverton, I am reminded of the mantra 'Progressions, Progressions, Progressions". Although students would love to come to the first class and before leaving know how to do a perfect handstand. The reality is that I need to teach the basics correctly and progress with the proper techniques for them to achieve the perfect handstand by the end of the six week session. By learning each child's strengths and weaknesses, I can then plan for their individual progress. Just because Sally can do a good forward roll and Sadie cannot, doesn't mean Sally will be able to do a perfect handstand and Sadie will not. I personally love to see the realization on the students' face that the reason we did lunges and boring donkey kicks for the first three weeks was so they can do the next skill with little effort. To me that realization is priceless. So, I am going to stick to it and continue to drill into my students week after week...AGAIN, AGAIN, AGAIN:)

My Cheer Adventure- by James

I have recently started volunteering some of my time at a local high school cheerleading team to help them with their tumbling. There are a couple things that I have pulled from this experience. The first was that during my short drive to the school for our first practice, I was more worried about their work ethic rather than their basic skills. Skills can be taught to anyone who has the determination and work ethic to make it happen. In fact, Chellsie's article talks a lot about this (make sure you read it!) However, someone who is naturally talented, but has no work ethic, will not go nearly as far. I believe this is something that coaches see all the time.

The second thing I learned is that it is so important to educate the athlete and the team on your overall plan. If you are just barking orders to them and they are doing what you ask, then they might not truly understand the reason behind it. Once the athletes and the team can conceptualize why you do things, they are more apt to make that plan happen. It is a whole lot easier to work with someone who you know has your best interest at heart than for someone who just tells you what to do.

The first day, I challenged the girls to do some things that they haven't tried before. I could sense their hesitance, but with some encouragement and explanations of the drills, they performed well. It was a great first day and near the end I gave them the option to call it a day or do some more conditioning...and they chose to stay! I knew from that moment that this was a group of hard working girls and they were starting to trust me. That is a great feeling.

 

February 04, 2013

Thank you, John Geddert, for the compliment-for saying "Tumbl Trak gets it!" After reading my January blog, Head Coach of the 2012 Women's Gold Medal Olympic Team, John Geddert, wrote in his Facebook page:

"Tumbl Trak-they simply get it. From the ownership on down through the entire staff, they understand the sport of gymnastics."

John, who is also coach of World Champion and Olympic Gold Medallist, Jordyn Wieber, sure "gets it" too. His series, "Success Videos",is the best training for coaches' education anywhere. If you want to read more from John Geddert, check out his webpage at www.thegymnasticscoach.com.

Someone else who "gets it" is John from the Gymnastics Zone. His article in our February newsletter, Top 12 Ways to Become a Better Coach, includes many suggestions to help coaches achieve their goals-helping their athletes at all levels to perform better. I was especially impressed with John's comments encouraging coaches to continually seek more information, to examine new ways to teach and coach. I get frustrated when I see the same old ways of teaching gymnastics passed along generation after generation, with the justification of "that's the way I was taught." Way to go Gymnastics Zone!

Beginning next month there will be a minor change with our monthly newsletter and blog. Doug's blog will transition to a new blog format called, TUMBL TALK. The new Tumbl Talk blog will give more of my group the opportunity to share their ideas and comments. I will still be contributing some of those, and as always, I welcome your ideas, comments and suggestions. Doug

 

January 17, 2013

Now that we are into a new year, let's consider how coaches help develop the abilities and skills of their athletes. As coaches, it is so tempting to rush the job of getting certain skills taught to our athletes -particularly those in the compulsory routines. We know it is a process of progressing in small increments, toward a technically correct (and thus deserving of a high score) skill. We understand that teaching the correct basics and doing sufficient preparation of skill-parts is necessary to help our gymnasts learn safely and correctly.

Still, it is hard to wait and to be patient. We want that back handspring, done on the floor, ready for competition! A big problem with being impatient, however, is that the poorly learned skill is really NOT ready for competition. Judges take off for bent arms, shoulder angle, back handsprings that don't cover distance, handspring vaults that come on too high, or handstands on beam that don't reach the "cone."

Insufficient prep....being in too big a hurry....and not doing sufficient numbers....result in routines that score poorly, or in foundation skills that do not show good technique.

Sometimes, it is the young gymnast who bugs us to rush-"just once, can I do my handspring on the real Vault Table???" Or, "Can't I just try a few back handsprings on the real floor?" And sometimes it is we, the coaches, who rush things. The meet season is upon us, and we find we hadn't planned far enough ahead. Whatever the need for rushing, it is up to the coach to decide whether the skills in a routine are ready for competition.

Building a good foundation, whether for a house or for an athlete, is critical to good performance later. It takes patience to lay a good foundation-don't jump the gun on those basic skills. And have a fun and exciting 2013 year and season! Doug

 

November 01, 2012

I've been spending months getting feedback and advice from coaches all over the country and Canada, about the value of correct shaping of handstands and the idea that much of gymnastics involves moving through a handstand. I appreciate the feedback from Tom Forster, John Geddert, Neil Resnick, John Smith, Rick McCharles, Tony Gehman, Leonard Isaacs, and others.

Sometime last year, Tom gave me the idea for a wall handstand trainer (for gyms)-Fun Sticks were developed first, to help with wall handstand work. Later when I heard John Geddert talk about "homework", I had the thought to merge these two ideas. The result is the Handstand Homework Mat, which will be introduced on our website at the release of this newsletter. The Handstand Homework Mat can be attached to any door. It allows gymnasts to practice control of handstands at home, to repeat, and hold, many critical shapes. Click here to visit the webpage.

Why is the handstand so important? Tom Forster says "75% of all the skills we do on every event either shows a handstand or moves through a handstand."

Because Tumbl Trak has had a tradition of sending instructional guides along with its products, the concept of a Handstand Homework book took shape. I don't think anyone dreamed that it would be 60 pages long, with over 190 pictures! Collecting pictures of both correct shapes, and misshapes was quite a project. Pictures and video came from a number of gyms. Thank you gymnasts and coaches from North Stars Gymnastics Academy, Twistars Gymnastics, Midland Gymnastics Training Center, Colorado Aerials Gymnastics, and NASA Gymnastics.

The workbook covers handstand mechanics that are valuable for gymnasts at all levels, from beginners to advanced. It addresses young gymnasts and defines common terms used by coaches, who will also find it to be a good reference. A parent commented, "I never thought of a handstand as being that integral to many other important skills in gymnastics. But after looking at the handbook and seeing the pictures, which are very helpful, it all makes sense." We hope the workbook will be fun for athletes, with easy-to-follow graphics, and loads of information. Click here to see some sample pages from the workbook.

As the competitive season is approaching for many athletes, I hope our work on handstands will be helpful for all levels. Happy Thanksgiving! Doug

 

October 01, 2012

Yippee-the doctor told me I could go back to full activity! It's been 10 weeks since my bicycle fall. Although I don't remember it, I'm sure the fraction of a second it took for me to react was not enough to save me from that fall. More about this in my Saving Handstands article in the newsletter-I'd love to get some responses to this!

Our newest product, the Handstand Homework Mat, addresses the issue of young athletes learning to control their shoulders. Near the end of September, we finished a photo shoot at John Geddert's gym, Twistars, in Lansing, MI, to capture advanced handstand images for a book that will accompany the Handstand Homework Mat, and be sold separately. (Both will be for sale during the holiday season.) John's young hotshots demonstrated the advanced handstand positions we wanted with excellent form. Thanks, John, and the young Twistars group!

There were two highlights for me in September. Once was watching a terrific video of my mentor, Leonard Isaacs, coaching a gymnast on how to save a handstand, using shoulder movement. The video caught him giving a mini-lesson to a gymnast at North Stars Gymnastics, in NJ where he currently works. Be sure to take a look at the video along with the article in this month's newsletter.

The second highlight was watching the Kellogg's Olympic Gymnastics Tour at the Key Area in Seattle. In addition to a great show¸ I was especially pleased to see Chellsie Memmel's floor routine and tumbling passes, which included a high Arabian double front, and a double layout! Chellsie performed these on a special floor with air floors (that Tumbl Trak provided) built into the diagonals, under the carpet. The floor allowed many of the athletes to perform skills they have competed without as much stress on their bodies as on a regular spring floor. This was the 10th of 39 cities where the Tour athletes will be performing. See the USAG website http://kelloggstour.com for the list of cities and dates, and try to catch a performance! You'll be glad you did.

 

September 06, 2012

My travel in August has been minimal except for working with kids at the local gyms. At NASA Gymnastics, I recently heard Coach John give two pieces of advice that caught my attention to his gymnasts-in-training. The first was to "listen well." I thought this was good advice for all children, especially as they prepare not only for gymnastics, but for the return of the next school year.

The second piece of advice was more specific. He told them "elevate your shoulders" whenever appropriate. This advice relates specifically to another set of challenges that Tumbl Trak is developing, called a "wall handstand series," aimed at developing specific strength and body control.

Last month, I included my thoughts about a "bar strength" challenge. This month, I'd like to focus on shoulder elevation strength (often called "shoulder shrugs"), which is a big part of handstand conditioning, and is so very important for vaulting. McKayla Maroney obviously has developed this strength in order to block, or create repulsion, for her world class Amanar vault. Repulsion occurs twice for any Yurchenko vault-first from hands on the floor before the vault board, and second from hands off the vault table to launch the body up into the air for twisting. Both are equally important.

Whether you are a beginner gymnast, or Jordan Wieber or McKayla Maroney, good handstands are something that should be practiced daily. Whether that practice is at home or in a gym, a good handstand can make a big difference in where you go in your sport. As the new season begins, keep focused on doing your best at each workout. How can a good handstand against a wall evolve into a high-flying Amanar vault?

As I watched the coverage of Olympic gymnastics last month, and observed our local Twisters gymnasts at their summer training, I began to think about where you start and where you can go. How much preparation did the Fierce Five do at their earliest stages of learning gymnastics skills? How did that early preparation evolve into what we all saw in London? Think about how one can evolve into another. On that final note, be sure not to miss "Why Winners Win" in this month's edition of the Tumbl Trak newsletter.

Doug

 

August 02, 2012

TEAM GOLD! Congratulations to the Fab Five on winning the team gold medal for USA in the Women's Gymnastics competiton. We cannot tell you how proud we are of your accomplishment. It is such an exciting time in our sport and all five women showed great strength, endurance, talent and grace during the team event finals. Good luck to all as you continue to compete for individual medals during the remainder of this week.


As for me, the Seattle-To-Portland ride was July 14-15. My experience preparing for the STP reminded me of all the hard work that the veteran gymnasts put forth in their quest for the 2012 Olympic Team. Falling from my bike while in the first 10 miles of the 203-mile ride did not allow me to finish the ride. I suffered a mild concussion, cuts, and bruises. Sometimes it is hard to tell ourselves that training, in and of itself, and striving to reach a goal has inherent value. There were some national team members who trained for years, knowing the difficulty, and yet did not make the team. I hope they know it is as much the journey as the destination. Let's celebrate those veteran gymnasts!

In this month's newsletter, please read my comments on Leonard's 5th Bias: Open mindedness, including the use of science and its methodology. Check it out. Try it as an experiment. Decide on some strength criteria and set those as goals to reach before your gymnasts can try a kip. For example, have your students try a V-hold on a bar for 5 seconds, a forward roll slowly into an inverted candlestick, and lower to a V-hang. The experiment can be individual, as each gymnast progresses. Collect data and put it on a wall chart so gymnasts can see their progress. Strength is essential for bar work. When a local coach was asked by one of her athletes, "How can I get better on bars?" she gave her student one of John Geddert's videos-Strength for Bars. Speaking of John Geddert...congratulations for being named as Head Coach for the U.S. Olympic Team. How proud you must be of TEAM GOLD!

 

May 01, 2012

The first week of April, Carrie Lennox, Tumbl Trak's new Educational/Marketing Coordinator, flew to Michigan for a week. She got to know the rest of the Tumbl Trak staff as she helped demonstrate some ways to set up Fitness Wheels and the 5-in-1 Bar System for Kid Fitness activities during one of our on-site staff training days.

On Wednesday of that week, the Photo Shoot for new products took place and included both still photos and video recording. About eight gymnasts from Mid Michigan Gymnastics, George Young's gym in Freeland, MI, were a great help in showing drills with the new pieces, as well as some fun activities for Kid Fitness applications. Congratulations to George and his gymnast, Kirsten Gendron, for qualifying for Level 10 JO Nationals! It is well deserved!

On Friday, James, Carrie and I drove south to visit Glenn Hayden at Cutting Edge Gymnastics. Glenn's "Field Trip on Wheels" program has reached out to over 20,000 kids in the Clinton Township area of Michigan where they have enjoyed his activities since school started last fall.

That weekend, Ambassador Rick McCharles traveled to Al Fong's Coaches' Clinic in Blue Springs, MO. He then went on to visit Chow's Gymnastics and Dance in DesMoines, IA. Be sure to read more about Rick's visit in the Inside Traks section of the monthly newsletter.

Also in April, James and Chris, our videographer, visited Memmel's gym in New Berlin, WI to interview Andy, Jeannel, Chellsie, and Mara about their positive coaching approach from both the coach and gymnast perspective. This same video project, the Power of Positive Coaching, took the duo to Oakville Gymnastic Center in Oakville, Canada, near Toronto. Rick McCharles met them there and for two days they enjoyed meeting and video recording gymnasts at the Canadian National Training Center. [See the Inside Traks article for more information about this visit.]

On April 18, Diana and I flew back to WA, met Leonard Issacs at SeaTac airport, then drove on to Port Townsend. Leonard was a guest coach for a couple of days at NASA in Gig Harbor. While John was in the U.K. with a couple of his gymnasts, Leonard and John's wife, Linda, kept the team kids busy.

Diana and I flew to Hawaii for a bicycle-video tour the last week of April. Hawaii is the 50th state I have visited-and this time it wasn't for business!

Doug

 

April 02, 2012

We had several visitors to Port Townsend in March. Steve Roney, another Tumbl Trak Ambassador, and his wife TD, came up from Hood River for a weekend visit. They met Carrie Lennox at the Rec Center, who as usual, was having fun with her Rec Kid Fit program. She and Steve shared ideas for using various Tumbl Trak inflatable products, and bar stations with recreation kids.

Our other visitors were Mike & Cheryl Ranger, Tumbl Trak dealers from New Zealand, who came to attend the Pacific Rim Meet in Everett, WA. Cheryl has a cousin who lives in Port Townsend, so we met them and gave them the Rec. Center and Twisters' gym tours. We took two ferries to get them back to Everett, and enjoyed supper at the Ivar's at Mukilteo Landing. We heard that the Pacific Rim gymnasts put on a great show-congratulations to all who participated!

As I continue my winter training for cycling, I've been doing lots of riding on my porch. Diana and I also needed to get MET (metabolic) testing done to determine how effective our riding has been. John and Linda Smith graciously allowed us to use their gym (NASA Gymnastics in Gig Harbor, WA) for the MET tests-thank you, John and Linda!

Our last trip before we returned to Michigan, was to visit Steve and TD again. This time, it was to exchange some Tumbl Trak equipment that Steve used for several school and community events. Steve has been setting up some great activities for kids, similar to what Carrie has been doing in Jefferson County, WA. He has both the experience and the enthusiasm needed to give kids a really good time as they explore the challenges of physical activity-and improve fitness in the process of having fun!

Big News!! I want to welcome Carrie Lennox to the TT team. She begins working for Tumbl Trak on April 1st. She brings a great background in physical education to the job, and 3 years of priceless of experience in developing the Rec Kid Fit program in Jefferson County, WA. With her help, we hope to share ideas about fostering kid fitness with the rest of the country! Be sure to see her article in March's Technique magazine.

April plans include trips for Rick McCharles to Al Fong's free coaches' clinic at Great American Gymnastics Express (GAGE) in Blue Springs, MO, and to Chow's Gymnastics in West Des Moines, IA. James and Chris will also be traveling to visit Todd Gardiner's Illinois Gymnastics Institute and to M&M Gymnastics in New Berlin, WI. They are gathering more recording for Tumbl Trak's video on "Positive Coaching." Then Rick will meet the guys at Oakville Gymnastics Center near Toronto for more video recording. There will be lots to report in the May newsletter!

Good luck to all gymnasts and coaches who are finishing up their competitive seasons!

 

March 01, 2012

When my associate, James, returned from Hawaii, we picked him up at the airport and headed south to Vancouver, WA for a play-date at Naydenov Gymnastics Center with owner Kevin Jenkins. Steve Roney, one of Tumbl Trak's Ambassadors, met us there, and we set up several fun stations for the kids.

The week of January 30 was a very productive one, with Chris, our videographer, and Rick McCharles, another Tumbl Trak Ambassador, helping James and me with a number of events. For two days, we recorded interviews with John Smith, NASA Gymnastics in Gig Harbor, and shot many drills with his gymnasts on the 8-foot and 5-foot Fun Wheels. We got some good video that will be a good contribution to our upcoming Positive Coaching Video that is in the works.

On Wednesday of that week, we joined the Jefferson County Rec. Center crew at Brinnon Elementary School, where a three-day tumbling camp had been canceled earlier in January due to snow. Carrie Lennox and Chris Macklin of the Rec. Center, together with Rick, James, Diana and I set up a wonderful collection of stations for the Brinnon students, grades 1 through 8. We used an outdoor play structure to put a four-sided slackline around. (see pic) Inside the gym, there were 6 or 7 stations, which kept kids of various sizes and heights busy exploring their physical capabilities in ways they had not done before. [Read More]

 

February 01, 2012

During my time back at Tumbl Trak headquarters in Michigan in early January, I traveled with James and Chris to Wisconsin. We stopped briefly at the M&M Gymnastics meet in New Berlin and met with Jeanelle, Chellsie and Mara Memmel. They gave us some useful feedback on the latest version of our "Direction plus Correction" beam we plan to introduce to the market this summer.

We also were able to video record the first Master Coach Series at Gymfinity Children's Activity Center in Fitchburg, WI. Leonard Isaacs, my mentor for teaching gymnastics, presented foundational ideas and principles that he has gathered over his 50 years as a high-level coach of both boys and girls (men &women). In addition to presenting on vault, bars, beam, and tumbling, he introduced his five "biases" which will be summarized briefly in this and subsequent TT newsletters. [seeLeonard's Bias #1, this issue] The entire Master Coach Series will be available for sale on the Tumbl Trak website beginning this June.
James Parent came with us back to Washington and was welcomed back by Carrie Lennox and her staff at Jefferson County Parks and Rec (JCPR). We had planned to do three days of "tumbling camp" at the Brinnon school gym, for the students in grades 1 through 8 there. James had helped with a similar event last spring. Alas, the unusual snow, which fell in and around the Seattle area, made it necessary to cancel this event. We have had, however, more good visits with John and Linda Smith at NASA in Gig Harbor, WA, including one visit where we were able to use the new Fun Wheels. John had his girls try lots of new drills with them.

We also began testing the new Fun Wheels at a birthday party sponsored by the JCPR at a local school gym.

As you can imagine, this time of the year is my favorite. We are busy testing new products, tweaking designs and getting ready for their debut at the National Congress which this year. Looking forward to that day when we can introduce these cool new products! Doug

 

December 01, 2011

My wife, Diana, and I took the ferry and visited Patty Steele-Smith's Edmonds Park and Rec gymnastics program. I was impressed by the number of classes offered by this small facility. One preschool class was mostly free play and kids had fun using our small prototype Fun Wheel. We did some back handspring drills with Patty's pre-team kids and they are getting good use out of their Porta Trak.

On October 29, I rode up Hurricane Ridge Road; with an elevation gain of 3307 feet in 12 miles! It was a slow, painful ride for 2 hours and 16 minutes. I averaged 145 Heart Rate, 136 watts, average 5.5 mph! The top is just short of a mile high. No snow at the top then, but there sure is now!

My friend Dave and I made a quick stop to visit Cathryn at the Dance Gallery in Port Orchard, WA. We checked out her prototype Bungee Mat we nicknamed, Clifford the Big Red Mat. We discovered what a fantastic climbing wall can be set up there. We also made another quick visit that day to NASA in Gig Harbor where we watched John Smith create more inventive ways to use the Fun Wheel-cast squat-through on the edges!

John Smith of NASA has impressed me as one of the most positive coaches I know, and is quite creative as well. I recruited him recently to become our first official "Ambassador" for Tumbl Trak. The goal of Tumbl Trak's new Ambassador Program is to support respected gymnastics coaches in their efforts to advance the idea of "smart" training for athletes. They will visit gyms, demonstrating and getting feedback about Tumbl Trak products, and will also present information at gymnastics events, as well as camps and clinics John has over 30 years of experience with gymnastics and has been a great resource new product applications. Rick McCharles, well-known Canadian, stopped for a few days in Port Townsend when he returned from the World Championships in Japan. He is another Tumbl Trak Ambassador.

For 3 days in early November, we helped Carrie Lennox and her crew from Jefferson County Parks and Rec with a tumbling camp in Quilcene. We took a loaded truck and minivan. The equipment from both vehicles easily filled half the basketball court at the Quilcene School gym! Last March, James was with us for a similar camp, and the 1st through 6th grade kids at Quilcene were glad to see us back again.

I also did a short bar casting clinic for Becca Cenovia and her pre-team and team kids at the local gym, Twisters Gymnastics. We set up progression stations starting with beginners learning cast-squat-on, to cast-handstands. Casting on-to or over a bar must address fear and I wanted to offer drills that will give gymnasts confidence and success. The kids were very receptive. We are planning to put together materials, video and print, for various drills/progressions, a project we have been working on for some time.

One event I enjoyed most this month was when Diana and I spent a weekend in downtown Seattle and I did not visit a single gym! We attended Sally Edwards' HeartZones "To the Max" conference. It was especially inspiring to watch a 93-year-old man generating watts on an indoor cycle-he was racing a 30-year-old woman and beat her by a few watts for the 30-minute period.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season!

Doug

 

November 01, 2011

In mid-October, Diana and I arrived early one day for a visit with Tammy Bonsen at Selah Gym Kids in Selah, WA. She had a couple of preschool classes, and the kids had fun with the 5-foot Fun Wheel that features a tramp bed. When I put it on its side, Tammy was intrigued, as the kids did handle hangs, skin-the-cats, and partial cartwheels inside the wheel.

I have really enjoyed working with Becca, Ida and Johanna with the early release program that Twisters runs at Grant Street Elementary in Port Townsend. I have to admit that it is more motivating for me to bring my "Fun Van" of products there than to the upstairs gym they used to occupy. I can back up to the side door and set up in a short time. I must be getting old. The Twisters' staff offers great help and this is a good field test to see how quickly and easily the right collection of products can work for a mobile program. The new Bar System was set up with both bars and the Cast Trainer Bar. Then a Power Launch was attached to one side, as a climbing wall and slide, and the 5-foot Fun Wheel was secured on the other side. When the kids arrived, I asked for "Professional Fun Players" and had plenty of volunteers. We observed and supervised the kids, who explored the many possible activities offered by the Bar System and its stations. It was a big success, and I am learning that the idea of a multi-faceted system can provide layers of fun. In addition I noted that diverse physical learning can occur within a small area-approximately 8-feet x 8-feet.

During one of our drives north this month, we admired mile after mile of orchards laden with fruit, and often saw sections of very young trees. I thought of the years it will take before those trees will bear fruit. It reminded me of the investment coaches must make in our young athletes. The best coaches know how to plan for the long term. We, in the gymnastics community, tend to think for one-season at a time. My friend Leonard would tell you that getting a technically correct round-off, back handspring, or kip takes a gymnast her or his entire career-certainly more than a month, a season, or a year. We need to help our young athletes think about the long term, whether they are gymnasts or cheerleaders. Learning, then mastering, basic skills is a process that takes time.

Enjoy. Doug

 

October 03, 2011

Rick McCharles from Calgary, Canada, came to visit Tumbl Trak West during the month of September. I picked him up at SeaTac on his way to the Gymnastics World Championships in Japan. We spent about 3 days together visiting gyms. We visited Twisters' gym in Port Townsend and later met with Becca Cenovia, Manager and Head Coach.

We also stopped by the Jefferson County Parks and Rec Center so I could introduce Rick to Carrie Lennox, who started, and is now expanding the Rec Kid Fit program. I had visited Carrie earlier to show her my Fun Wheel (aka Double Donut), to talk about applications and ideas for its use.

Rick and I drove to Port Angeles to visit Klahane Gymnastics, since I didn't have time to bicycle there. On our last day together we visited 3 different programs, including the Early Release program that Twisters runs at Grant Street Elementary in Port Townsend. We went on to NASA Gymnastics in Gig Harbor, then south to Black Hills Gymnastics in Lacey. It might be a new record for Rick; doing this many gym visits in 3 days.

We found that we have a lot in common, including a common interest in fun recreational activities with and without gymnastics skills included. Of course, we also share an interest in competitive gymnastics. I am looking forward to having Rick work with us to be an Ambassador for Tumbl Trak all over Canada, the U.S., and many other parts of the world. Rick left for Worlds in Japan on Wednesday, September 22.

On the way back from SeaTac where I picked up Diana after her trip to Yosemite with her sister, we stopped at NASA and talked briefly with John and Linda Smith. They are both quite creative in the ways they look at new products.

Diana’s family from Illinois and Indiana were here in Port Townsend for my niece's wedding. I set up a "mini-gym" in our backyard for our great nieces Bri, 6 and Ashlynn, 4. We had a Jr Bar Pro, the Fun Wheel, and a short, low slackline with a rope above it. That certainly kept them entertained for hours!

I hope October is a good month for gyms. I’m sure lots of preparation for fall meets is in progress. Have fun,

Doug

 

September 01, 2011

The month of August ended with the pinnacle event of the year, USAG National Congress and Tradeshow in St. Paul, MN. On the way to St. Paul, we stopped at Jay Orkowski's Gymfinity in Fitchburg, WI (near Madison), and got feedback on some of our new prototypes, including several versions of a "Double Donut" and a second generation of our Air Tower. Thank you Jay and your staff!

Congress and the National Championships were both very exciting. Since I missed Congress last year in CT, it was especially good to see so many old friends and meet some new ones. I got some wonderful new bar product ideas from Tom Forster and John Carney, who are both quite creative in their coaching.

Carrie Lennox, our friend from Port Townsend, WA, flew in to Minneapolis-St Paul to experience her first USAG National Congress. It was perfect timing because she had the opportunity to mete Kim Pladson, of TNT Kit Fitness based in Fargo, ND. Kim has a very interesting program that includes high-level competitive gymnastics, recreational gymnastics, and a program for improving fitness for kids with special needs. Another focus of Kim's is training staff for working with special needs.

For the National Championships, it was exciting to see Jordyn Wieber (from our own state of Michigan) competing so well-her performances put her so far ahead of the field. Congratulations, Jordyn and her coach John! It was also nice to see Chellsie Memmel competing again. Chellsie held a firm third position after prelims. Her tumbling looked really strong, with a sky-high Arabian double pike followed up by a very nice double layout. She was doing well in finals until her last event, bars. Chellsie visited the Tumble Trak booth with her parents, Jeanelle and Andy. She told me she was using the Air Floor every other day for tumbling, and I was impressed when she said "no tape." We wish her all the best with her future endeavors. [Read More]

 

August 01, 2011

July was another busy month at Tumbl Trak. Our staff was busy putting the final touches on all of our new products. The new products are as follows: 1) The long awaited Air Floor PRO- no need for a padded surface when using this tumbling strip 2) The Power Launch- a small 4'x6' version of the longer 8" Air Floors 3) The Forster Bar- check out this new product developed by well known, Tom Forster, 4) The Air Pit was introduced last fall on our website, but is new to the catalog. 5) Sliders- another addition to our inexpensive, but valuable training tools for home or in the gym.

Now that the new products have all been finalized, be on the look out for the new catalog to come in the mail soon. Also be sure to check out all the new video on the website.

Last but not least, I want to send out my congratulations to Chellsie Memmel who placed 2nd in All-Around at the 2011 Cover Girl Classic. As a personal friend to the family and a big fan of Chellsie's, I am so excited to see her compete again. Go Chellsie!!!

 

July 01, 2011

Gymnastics isn't the only thing on our minds here at Tumbl Trak. So much of our equipment can be used for all different types of programs. This month we visit a local school for their end of the year field day and we also visited a local recreational program and set up our slacklines.

On June 3rd, we took a collection of Tumbl Trak products out to a field day for the kids at St Joseph's school in Beal City, MI. Kids from grades K through 6 got to go through an obstacle course that included a 20' Air Trak and Air Pit. The hit of the obstacle course was the climbing wall that we created with Bungee Incline supported by a Jr. Bar Pro. The kids also got to play on the Rubber Rope that we managed to suspend about 3 feet above the ground, between a tree and a light post!

On June 6th we visited the West Midland Community Center, which is a couple of miles east of the Tumbl Trak office. We wanted to check out how well their volleyball standards held up as the supports for our slacklines. The Tumbl Trak team of Bill, Michelle, and Chris set up a 15M Classic slackline and an overhead rope. This combination is sure to be a hit with programs that already have the floor-plates for in-ground volleyball standards. It's like having an indoor pair of trees to secure a slackline and low overhead rope.

 

May 25, 2011

Last week, my wife and I traveled to Quincy, IL home of one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, to visit with Randy Parrish. Randy is a well-known as a presenter at several Mini Congresses and at the National Congress. We took a van load of inflatable and non-inflatable equipment to set up in a local school, as well as at Gem City Gymnastics. We wanted to get feedback from Randy about several pieces of Tumbl Trak equipment that can be used for obstacle courses.

As some of you know, Tumbl Trak is interested in getting kids moving-whether in gymnastics classes, or in more general recreation programs. Because Randy is an elementary physical education teacher, he knows a lot about getting kids to have fun while moving! So we set up an obstacle course inside the gym at Baldwin Intermediate, home to about 500 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. In addition, there were three classes of special needs children who tried out our obstacle course. The hit of the session was a climbing wall, set up with our new Jr. Air Floor PRO.

Around 4 p.m., we set up the same equipment at Gem City Gymnastics for classes and team to try. In addition, we set up the Rubber Rope angled across their loose foam pit. Kids tried possum travels as well as hanging and hand-over-hand moving. Then, we added a slackline beneath the rope and lots of kids had lots of fun!

We took Randy to dinner at one of his favorite local spots and talked non-stop for about two hours. He has tried heart-rate monitors with his school kids, and is also definitely interested in getting kids moving, especially to music! He will be heading to Flip Fest camp in TN soon, where James, from Tumbl Trak, will be visiting this summer.

 

May 11, 2011

March 25-April 2, it was great to have James, my associate from the Michigan office, visit us in WA for the week of spring break. I introduced James to John & Linda Smith at NASA Gymnastics in Gig Harbor, who are truly fantastic to their children in the gym. He was able to spend a lot of time at Twisters Gymnastics with Becca and also with Carrie Lennox at Jefferson County Parks and Rec. We helped Carrie run a program for a few days at a school nearby. Also, I took James to visit Klahane Gymnastics in Port Angeles, to see some of their great younger kids. We also visited Gallery School of Music & Dance in Port Orchard, which has a room dedicated to gymnastics. That program is run by Catherine Bangs, who has a lot of great ideas.

James seemed to be most impressed with NASA Gymnastics owner, John Smith and his kids. John’s coaching style is very positive and he uses very little criticism. His opinion is that kids get plenty of that from school and home and they do not need more of it from the gym. Look for an article about this subject in an upcoming newsletter.

[Read More]

 

April 01, 2011

Tumbl Trak is happy to partner with Dr. Larry Nassar and his new initiative, GymnasticsDoctor.com Autism Foundation. Dr. Larry Nassar started this foundation to help raise money for autism research and treatment. He is very interested in the role that gymnastics can play in the motor development of children with autism and other special needs. The foundation is just getting started and he would like to get the message out, for more information go to www.gymnasticdoctor.com. In January, Dr. Larry held an “Austism Awareness Meet” at the Twistars Invitational in Lansing, Michigan. He invited autistic gymnasts from other MI clubs and had them show their skills to increase awareness of what can be accomplished. Tumbl Trak supported this endeavor by donating items to the silent auction. We helped out again in February at the Michigan State University meet. Tumbl Trak’s coach Michelle participated as a representative of Tumbl Trak as well as a coach of an autistic Level 4 gymnast.
The experience was amazing and we look forward to our continued partnership with Dr. Larry Nassar and his new foundation.

On March 8, Jen & Nate from Acro Aerial Artistry used two of our new 8” Air Floor Pros at the Everett Civic Auditorium in Everett, WA. Although I was not able to attend the event as I had earlier hoped, Jen’s performance was a success. Nate is a former competitive gymnast from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has performed around the world with organizations such as Disney. Jen has always had a passion for tumbling and gymnastics, despite being born without legs. Jen & Nate’s mission is to demonstrate athletic ability, teamwork, creativity, and perseverance in order to help others maximize their potential. Together they create a visual for the audience that is both breathtaking and inspiring. To learn more about Jen & Nate, visit their website at http://jenandnatesite.com/.

One of Tumbl Trak’s new initiatives is to work more closely with those involved in the physical fitness of children. With that in mind, I have started a dialogue with Randy Parish who is an elementary physical education teacher in Quincy, IL. Some of you may recognize his name as a presenter at many of the USAG Mini Congress lectures. He and I have discussed the wide variety of children's activities that can foster fitness. Both Randy and I are helping with boys classes which gives us lots of topics to discuss. The boys have lots of energy, and Randy’s advice to "run 'em like dogs..." came in very handy the next week, as we set up Parkour like obstacle courses, with a little tumbling training between. It was a success. Thank you, Randy.


[Read More]

 

March 01, 2011

We started off February with a visit to NASA Gymnastics in Gig Harbor, where we captured audio recording of John Smith sharing some vaulting and handstand drills for gymnasts. Then, we went on to the Dance Gallery in Port Orchard where we shot video of fun uses for ropes and slack lines. Tumbl Trak has been adding lots of video to our YouTube channel during February. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/user/tumbltrak so that you can receive new videos as they are uploaded.

The next day we traveled to Kent, WA to record video for cheer tumbling progressions at Kim Kawachi's Northwest Cheer and Dance Academy. A huge thanks to Tyler Janes, and a great group of great kids who helped us unload a bunch of Tumbl Trak training products in just a few minutes!

From February 4th through the 12th, Chris and I were on the road. We stopped at Black Hills Gymnastics in Lacy, WA. I had a good discussion with them as they prepare to start a MoEv program in a new gym there. Mike, the owner, enjoyed the video I showed him on my Galaxy tab. As we entered northern California, we could not resist a stop to enjoy the Redwoods-I rode my bicycle, and Chris set up a slackline between two giants! Also while in California, I was able to enjoy working with two preschool classes at Allstar Gymnastics in Diamond Springs, CA. We set up some fun bar stations and an Air Barrel. [Read More]

 

February 01, 2011

As the new year enters its second month, we are already a full decade into the 21st century. I am reminded that trying to keep up with the stunning amount of technology surrounding us is a real challenge. Recently, I purchased an iPOD Touch and a Galaxy Tablet (Android OS). I also learned a bit about Microsoft Tags and QR (quick response) codes. After downloading a TagReader app onto my smartphone and Galaxy Tab, I can now scan one of these codes and it will take me directly to a video link. This is a free app available at http://gettag.mobi. Look for such tags in future Tumbl Trak print ads found in Inside Gymnastics and Inside Cheerleading magazines.

As I write this, Michelle is in Australia presenting Tumbl Trak gymnastic drills and apps to our friends down under. She will be giving video and live presentations at the Melbourne Congress and at clinics in Canberra and Sydney. Fortunately, she will be avoiding areas of Australia that have been hit hardest by the flooding. Our thoughts go out to those who have been affected by this natural disaster.

Meanwhile, I am visiting gyms in the area near us in Port Townsend and Seattle, WA. Chris, Tumbl Trak's videographer and recent CMU grad, has been staying with us here. Shortly after Christmas, Chris flew to Boise where Diana and I met him to shoot video for Frank Sahlein's Motion Evolution program.

On January 15, Chris and I visited NASA Gymnastics, in Gig Harbor, WA to work with Monica, the program's MoEv director. They were holding their Mo Ev launch and Open House, which was a big success. It was so nice to see the kids having fun moving and learning about fitness and nutrition! The launch session finished with a Smoothie Party as kids put various fruits and vegetables (each had to bring one) into a blender and sampled their new recipes. [Read More]

 

January 05, 2011

It's hard to believe it's a whole new decade, as well as a new year. Happy New Year and decade to all!

In early December, Dave and I met Brian Muenz and Sandy from Emerald Gymnastics in Redmond, WA. We set up a slack line across one of their Tumbl Traks and dropped off a few pieces of home use gymnastics equipment that Emerald Gymnastics planned to sell as Christmas presents through their pro shop. They are hosting The Bumbershoot Charity Choice Gymnastics Meet February 11-13, where a minimum of $5,000 will be donated to the charity of choice of the team that wins. They have 1,500 competitors coming.
We loaned an Air Pit and a new, suede Teddy Bear Mat to John Smith at NASA in Gig Harbor, WA. He was celebrating his Level 4 Team's state gymnastics championships. He and his kids played with the "Big Red Boat" (the kid's nickname for the Air Pit) for a week. Then we returned to video some neat drills including a front handspring series using the Air Pit with an old set of uneven bars--3 doing bouncy butt drills on one side & L-supports on the other.

Preparations continued for Michelle's trip to Australia. She will be visiting Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney the 3rd week of January. In Melbourne, she will be giving a presentation at the Melbourne Congress and will be hosting clinics at the Canberra and Sydney locations. Preparation for this trip gave me a good reason to review our large collection of video applications we've collected from numerous gymnastic clubs over the last two years. It was amazing to see the diversity of applications and drills. It was a bit of a challenge to organize them for Michelle's presentations! It was a team effort among Michelle, Chris, Stacy and myself.

A few days before Christmas, Diana and I returned to Gig Harbor to chat with John Smith and brainstorm MoEv ideas. John is a licensee and is planning a grand opening for his MoEv program, with his assistant, Monica, for mid- January. Good luck with your MoEv program, John! (And enjoy your trip to Hawaii with your team, too.)

On our way home, we stopped at Dance Gallery in Port Orchard, WA, where Cathy Bangs is overseeing remodeling of the small gymnastics gym there. Cathy, who worked for Klahane Gymnastis in Port Angeles, moved to Port Orchard late in 2010. Good Luck with your program, Cathy!

December 27 found us on the road toward Boise, where we met up with Chris, our videographer. Our 3 days in Boise, Idaho were very productive with video work for Frank Sahlein's Motion Evolution program. Chris flew in and met us there. He shot promotional and educational video for two days. It was fun to observe kids at free play using our products and being so active. These are kids who might never take a gymnastics class, or even get out of their house. The MoEv program will be one of the ways to get more kids active and moving. Chris will be returning to Port Townsend with us, where we plan to work during the month of January. He and I might do a trip to northern California, then on to Utah, as well as visits to a number of local gymnastic clubs.

We also had a nice visit with Jim Tighe of Gem State Gymnastics. Make sure to read the article (to the right of my blog) about how Jim and his wife, Nancy, have implemented a healthy snack bar in their gym. Jim is the first of our dealers (and one of our first customers) to buy an Air Pit. We had fun with some of his level 5 kids using it as a bar wall for flyaway and level 5 bar dismounts. Jim's gymnastics meet in January, the Gem State Classic, has over 700 athletes coming. Way to go Jim. Keep selling those healthy snacks.

On a different subject, I want to make special note about Dr. Larry Nassar's new initiative. He is starting a foundation to help raise money for autism research and treatment. He is very interested in the role that gymnastics can play in the motor development of children with autism and other special needs. His foundation, GymnasticsDoctor.com Autism Foundation, is just getting started and he would like to get the message out, for more information go to www.gymnasticdoctor.com. He plans on assisting clubs with their ability to add special needs programs. He feels these programs benefit all involved.

Recently, I heard somewhere that "TRADITION IS THE ENEMY OF PROGRESS."....Whether or not you believe this, tradition is often a mixed blessing. Take some time this New Year to think about how tradition can help or hinder progress. Consider the thought that not questioning tradition may be a mistake... Doug

 

December 08, 2010

Diana and I enjoyed the majestic sites at Yosemite National Park for two days, then met Shelly Hansen of D&G Sports at Miyagi Gym in Auburn, CA. We set up an Air Pit with old unevens and had kids doing bouncy butt drills, and some bounce-handstands. When I put the Air Pit, one of our newest pieces of gymnastic equipment, sideways next to a bar, I had 2 or 3 kids who were doing the bouncy butt drill and jump to handstands, at the same time. We then went to Auburn Gymnastics. It is a small facility with a very creative staff who always have lots going on.
Nov 4: We arrived in Boise and dropped off some fun gymnastics equipment (Jr. Pit Pillow, Hopscotch Mat, Suede Sweet-Spot, & 466 Practice Gym Mat) at Frank Sahlein's Wings Center for the upcoming launch of the newest Motion Evolution program right there in Frank's backyard. Then, we took an Air Pit to Jim Tighe's gym, Gem State Gymnastics, where Jim came up with several great apps for it and I gave him an Easy button. Jim showed us more of his gym program & day care. He has remodeled the lobby, where Nancy (Jim's wife) has persuaded staff to put in healthy snacks (apples, yogurt, etc.) for parents to buy kids as they leave, sometimes as a reward for good work! Jim told us that Mark Kindlespire of Palouse Gymnastics is also offering the healthy snacks at his gym. We plan to find out more about this and other, similar programs and will do a feature article in an upcoming newsletter.
Nov 5: Diana dropped me off at Wings Center, then left to pick up my associate, Michelle at the airport. I inflated the Air Tower and the large and small Double Donuts. Later, Michelle and I met with Frank and Shauna Sahlein, Jess Curtis, Chelsey Campbell, Brenda Iverson, and Jaime so we could explore the products, and get some feedback. The group then drove to the Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State University campus and enjoyed the Cirque de Soleil performance, Allegria
Nov 6: We packed up equipment into the Wings Center bus and headed out to the Community Center for the MoEv launch. Inside the center, rooms were set up for the Physical Literacy, Mind-Body, and Nutrition activities of MoEv. From 11:00 - 2:00, kids and parents played on equipment outside, and did activities inside. This launch of MoEv was quite successful and lots of FUN! We packed up, and Diana and I hit the road at about 2:30 pm, arriving back in Port Townsend on Sunday.
After some recovery time, we went to the Jefferson County Parks and Rec. Center in Port Townsend to check in with Carrie Lennox. She has been developing many activities for a slack line inside the gym. We saw the kids playing on the long slack line with a rope above it--the kids were really enjoying it.
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, we are into the big holiday sales. Santa's warehouse is packed full and we are shipping out hundreds of gifts for good girls and boys every day. Have an enjoyable holiday season with your families and a very successful end of 2010.

 

September 30, 2010

I began the month helping teach beginning tumbling to some middle school cheerleaders in Beaverton, MI. It’s a program that Tammy, Tumbl Trak’s bookkeeper, with several other parents volunteers for. It was a lot of fun with 58 girls.

At my third checkup following retinal surgery, I learned that the retina in my eye had detached again. So after another surgery on September 2, we got the ok to travel on the 9th but we waited to depart until Saturday the 11th so we could stop at Region 5 Mini Congress in Itasca, IL. As we were parking in the "hybrids free parking" space, we met Patti Komara loading one of our Hopscotch mats. I also saw Bob Bradley of Northshore Gymnastics Sales.

Michelle and James were already at the TT booth, which displayed lots of our new products, including the new Gibbon Slack Lines (check them out on our website). I got a lot of good feedback from Randy Parrish, Flipfest Gymnastics, after showing him video and stills of some new projects on my iPad Saturday evening. We agreed to send him our Air Log and Double Donut to play with, as well as some heart rate monitors and information about their use with kids, as we are both interested in keeping children active and having fun.

[Read More]

 

July 31, 2010

On July 1, David Rath, our friend from Australia, arrived in Seattle. We picked him up and drove across the Tacoma Narrows bridge-which David had wanted to see. On Friday, David and I visited John Smith at NASA in Gig Harbor, WA. David liked several of the drills he saw there, and was especially interested in the furniture mover sliders used for strength and flexibility-he ended up taking 12 of them back with him!

On July 6, I took David with me to visit Greg Mutchler at Olympic Gymnastics in Silverdale, WA where we attached the Flex Bar to one of his Tumbl Traks. I was impressed with how well his kids, who are more familiar with using the Frame Bar, adjusted to it. Not only were they doing back-bounce to handstand, but were doing front belly-bounce to handstands, which should help them with cast handstand, back uprise to handstand, and front giants! Our next gym that day was Emerald Gymnastics in Redmond, WA, where Brian Muenz is now head team coach. Sandy Flores, the owner, showed us her new recreational gym, which may need to expand, as enrollment is growing fast. Brian's kids had a great time using the Flex Bar, too. The next day, David and I stopped again at NASA, then went on to the Lakewood Y, where Kevin Milleren runs a great gymnastics program. As we walked in, he was setting up an interesting tumbling station with our bungee mats, into a pit.

We visited Twisters Gymnastics, in Port Townsend on July 7, and David and I put a frame bar on a little Tumbl TRAK that we used to sell. It was a Mini Trak XL, which is 4 ft x 6 ft and may be a product that we should re invent, as a bar, vault and tumble trainer for limited spaces. The girls did well on it with the bar and some got their back bounce to handstand.

Finally, on July 8, we took David to visit Klahhane Gymnastics in Port Angeles, where I first saw the Flex Bar concept in use last fall, by Jan Urfer's son-in-law, Mark Kindlespire, of Palouse Gymnastics. That afternoon, David and Diana enjoyed a hike up Hurricane Hill, at the top of Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. David tried to hold a handstand on the slippery snow. [Read More]

 

July 01, 2010

Happy Summer,

This month, we took an unusual trip for us-a return to Washington state mid-summer! So I have a month to re-adjust to the weather and terrain before the STP ride (Seattle to Portland). I'm glad I we came back early to train, since it is cooler and hillier out here.

On our travel west, we stopped at Al Fong's gym, Great American Gymnastics Express, in Blue Springs, MO to thank him for a new product idea of his. We had great conversation with Al about this latest innovative idea and hope to share more information about this product soon.

That same afternoon we headed on to Salina, KS where we had planned to stay for the night. In response to our June newsletter, we received an email from Bev Jones, who runs the gymnastics program at the Salina YMCA. She had seen our itinerary and wondered if we could visit. I was very happy that she contacted us, and we enjoyed a short visit to play in the gym. She brought a few of her kids in for a special play date. She has a nice setup there, and we will surely be back.

After visiting friends and meeting my cycling coach in Colorado, we arrived in Clearfield, UT, and met with Angie and Mike Ford. They are in the final stages of building their new facility, and gave us a tour. It will include a music recital room, a preschool, and a nice gymnastics and tumbling gym for recreation.

Now that I am back in the west for a month, I am concentrating on more miles and hours on the hills of the pacific northwest, until the STP on July 17. We will head back to Michigan the next day, so we can be there for the Black Bear ride on July 25, where we will meet our friend Leonard Isaacs.

We have not finalized our itinerary for our trip back East, but, may go back down to Utah to clinic with some of Angie's staff, then head East by I-80. Send me an email or call if you are along the way and are interested in a visit.


Best wishes for a great July!

Doug

 

June 01, 2010

Now that the gymnastics and cheer seasons are mostly over, we are able to concentrate on more travel and visits to a multitude of events and friends of Tumbl Trak. Team TT (the travelling team) includes James, Michelle, Pam, Shirley, Diana and me, and now Gavin Mishler, our newest member. Gavin has actually done some trips for us in the past, and was on the road with me May 14-19. We visited Marvin Sharp, of Sharp's Gymnastics, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Gavin met Marvin, and two Olympians from 2008-- Samantha Pezek and Bridget Sloan. Marvin is all set to build a new facility for his program and plans to start construction on it very soon. Best of luck in all endeavors to the Sharp's Sharks

Our next stop was at the Terre Haute Allstar Cheer University, in Indiana. This club is owned by Tonya Kincaid, who coaches there with Kim Keyes. We had fun with their kids using the Orbiter and developing more apps for it. Tonya has a very nice, clean facility, with two floors. She plans on putting in a Tumbl TRAK soon, and currently has an Air Floor into a raised resi pit. We'll be back to visit, and expect to hear more good things about the Cheer U in Terre Haute.

I got in a good set of intervals on my early Aero ride towards St Louis, MO, and managed to avoid the rain which stayed with us for the next two days! Diana and Gavin picked me up and we then headed to Barron's Gymnastics, owned and run by Linda and Joe Barron. On Saturday, we did a very fun-filled play-date at their Open Gym, where we tested out the newest and best ideas from Tumbl Trak. Barron's Gymnastics was hosting the Motion Evolution workshop, where over 50 members were gathering to share ideas and work on developing the new curriculum for MoEv. We met Frank Sahlein, of 3rd Level Consulting, and some of the best minds and owners of the best children's activity centers in the country. I have no double that this group will take the Motion Evolution idea global in a matter of years. The big kick for MoEv is now! They will surely make a mark on efforts to help today's children get back to moving, like we all used to do. It was an exciting experience to be invited to observe the beginning of this venture. I can't wait to see where it goes in even 1-2 years, much less where it will be in 5-10.

After an information-packed Sunday morning, enjoying many productive conversations with the best of the best of MoEv, we headed back east. I got in a 45+ mile ride back to Palestine, IL, on my bike Sunday afternoon. On Monday, Gavin and I headed across the river and back to Indiana. We visited Tumbling Express, in Washington, IN, where we found Crissy LaFollette to be as creative and successful as ever. She gave us some great apps for using the Orbiter, and even the foam rings that support it. Her young hotshots were getting ready for tumbling regional's, and were looking very strong. It was impressive to see such young girls barreling down the rod floor, performing round off, whip, whip, whip to immediate double pike, with ease. Best of luck at the meet, Crissy and girls. [Read More]

 

May 05, 2010

Spring has sprung and I officially turned 60 years young. We have traveled back to Michigan so I can train on the flats for 2 months. Before we left, we had a fun play date with some of Carrie Lennox's kids at the Jefferson County Recreation Center, and I did a 40+ mile ride on Whidbey Island (the longest island in the USA). We set up a booth at the Washington Recreation and Parks Association conference and trade show in Tacoma. I talked with several Park and Recreation directors and instructors. On Saturday April 17, we packed up our three bicycles, our gear, several new inflatable proto types and hit the road east.

On the day we left, I did a two hour porch ride, with some hard 10 minute intervals and almost 1:40 hours of weights. Then we headed south to Vancouver, WA where we stayed with relatives, Jenny and Marc. OnSunday, we hit the road early so I could ride for three hours along the northern shore of the Columbia River. It was beautiful and hilly as usual. Diana picked me up and we continued on to Boise, ID where we stayed with Frank Sahlein and his wife Shauna. We had another good discussion about their newest project Motion Evolution. I believe Mo-Ev will be a big hit in all kinds of child activity centers everywhere. We all know what a huge need there is for programs that promote youth activity, and Mo Ev will offer a great opportunities. Thanks, Frank and Shauna.

We took a day off and drove our laden Prius (it's working fine, no brake or pedal issues), to Jackson, WY. There we found a flat stretch of road for a short ride near Victor, ID. The temperature was in the low 70's, but there was snow on the fields and, of course, on the Tetons in the background. Monday morning we enjoyed the drive toward Rock Springs, then on to Cheyenne, WY. We stopped at the Cheyenne Recreation Center, where I met with Erich Bochman, who runs the gymnastics program there. They have a very nice gym set-up, and we talked about teaching stations--bridge to handstands with mats to raise the feet, vaulting across vault trainer mats to stretch out vaults and many other concepts that we shared. Erich loved the Air Base Mat that we are evaluating. We used it as a base mat for level 4 vault, a bouncy butt kip station for teaching kips on bars, and as a handstand trainer, where young handstand learners can lean their shoulders against the mat and isolate their cores.
[Read More]

 

April 13, 2010

My spring training has been going pretty well. On my recent recovery week, I used my trainer for some indoor cycling while traveling. Then I did a Spring Ride up Mt Constitution on Orcas Island. I have committed to the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride, July 17, and will come back to Michigan the next weekend to ride the 100-mile Black Bear Ride from Grayling to Oscoda. Hopefully my friend, Leonard Isaacs, can ride part of the tag team version with my wife, Diana, while I see how I do on the whole thing. If it works, I will ride the ODRAM (one day ride across Michigan) in August, the week after Congress. This one is about 150 miles. See my schedule (below) for possible gym visits this summer.

On St. Patrick's Day, we met with staff at Jefferson County Parks and Recreation, to present a first draft of some progressions series we have been working on, to Carrie Lennox and her co-workers. We had video and still pictures showing basic progressions for the following:
o Wall Handstand
o Feet-High Bridges
o Run and Jump
o 4-part Bar unit that included Hanging from Bar, Support and Forward Roll, Pullover, and Knee-Hangs.
The response was very positive and Carrie thinks these ideas will help for future staff training. We have a photo shoot planned early in April with a group of her children to continue and improve the draft.
On March 21, my friend, Dave and I began our trip to Utah. We stopped in Boise, ID and visited with Frank Sahlein and his wife, Shauna. They are the owners of Wings Center and 3rd Level Consulting. It was fun to play with the kids at their gym and very interesting to hear about their newer business, 3rd Level Consulting. I also learned about a very new program they are just developing, called Motion Evolution. It is a program designed to help the average American kids get moving and offers a detailed business plan for businesses that want to help. I know it will be a big success and is very much needed. I got up early to ride on my trainer for 45 minutes in Frank's garage. I was finishing up at 6:15 AM, when Frank headed out for the airport to do some consulting work.

We went down to Springville, Utah, and met my good friend Don Gordon, of Gordon's Action Products, and Krissy Greening, our local dealer in the area, at AirTime Gymnastics in Springville, UT. They have been having a great time trying out some of our new and old products and were very gracious to let us come in and test out more new ideas. I've told them before that I was impressed that their kids all knew proper head/shoulder alignment (shoulder flexion in bridges), but now I know that they also do a great job working with their young pre-team kids to get strong on bars. When we did some of the hanging skills shown in our bar progression series the kids looked like they could do a bent arm, tucked hang forever, until they dropped off like ripe fruit. Nice job Airtime staff, and special thanks to Heidi, the manager. [Read More]

 

March 25, 2010

Where did February go? Time flies by while developing so many new and exciting things. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this process and for sharing great ideas. Keep them coming!

Early in February, I made several visits to Klahane Gymnastics in Port Angeles, WA, and rode to and from the Port Townsend gym using either my Bachetta Aero or Trek Pilot. Always in training and working toward that 200 mile ride.

On February 22, I enjoyed a good discussion with Chere Hoffman in Vancouver, WA. She has been a coach and gym owner for many years. We talked about my video project and many other subjects. It was great to hear that she has been a coach at Lake Owen Camp, for years, and will be there this summer. We continued along the Columbia Gorge to Hood River, where we brought some prototype products into Steve Roney's gym. We stayed the night with him and his wife, T.D. There was snow up near Mt. Hood, and the orchards were cloaked in white!

On our way back to Port Townsend, we visited the Frances Anderson Center, part of the Edmonds Parks and Recreation program. We enjoyed a tour of the facility with Patty Steele-Smith and again had a stimulating discussion about gymnastics instruction and learning environments. [Read More]

 

February 02, 2010

The New Year is progressing, as I hope we all are. I've been to Klahane Gymnastics in Port Angeles, WA 3 or 4 times. On Thursday January 21, I rode my bike three hours south towards NASA Gymnastics in Gig Harbor. We have been collecting video for our new video frame project that should be a great new way to teach kids and new coaches/teachers, some basic skills. The concept of having video of skills, divided into small steps and learning station drills to show students what we want them to do, could be a big aid to learning. The same video can show new coaches or teachers the skill progressions. Jan and her staff at Klahane Gymnastics, and John and Linda Smith at NASA have been great to work with as usual. I owe them a big thank you and best wishes for the season. I'm closing out January with a trip over to Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, to visit Pam Lovett's tumbling program. I hope to get some good video there also.
I am very excited to announce that, starting in January 2010, SA Sport will be the exclusive Tumbl Trak distributor for Canada. We want to assure our Canadian customers that the service they have come to associate with Tumbl Trak will continue, and likely improve, under this new agreement with SA Sport. Now, our customers from up north will receive more localized service with their regional SA Sport representative. They will have access to demonstration equipment available at meets and events. And, they may have the opportunity to save money in freight by combining their SA Sport equipment purchases with their Tumbl Trak equipment purchases. [Read More]

 

January 07, 2010

It is customary at the beginning of a new year to reflect on the previous year. I have been doing just that and thought I would share a few of the many things I learned in 2009.

Eat real food: Processed, fast, sugared, artificial food is killing us all, and it was so easy to switch to lean body weight without it. It takes some time and planning, which leads to the next point, but it's a good investment for life. Throw some steel cut oatmeal and water in a rice cooker and push a button. It's done in about 15-20 minutes and it's automatic. I have a great recipe for carrot-date-nut bars. If you would like a copy, email me at doug@tumbltrak.com. Put carrot-date-nut bars in the subject line of your email.

Fat, fit, body for sport activity: I continue to be amazed in the changes I've been making to my body, to develop a fitter, leaner, body in preparation for my goal of "Turning 60 & Being in Better Shape than Ever". I realize that most people are in the best shape between the ages of 10-20, but I experienced my best shape in my 30's. For me, I am still amazed at how much of my body was excess fat, and muscle. Since I have decided to get in the best shape of my life (to turn 60 in April), I have improved my eating, to eat more good food, and very little bad food, workout more and smarter, and get better rest more often. The extra fat is leaving me, as I am maintaining the muscle to keep strong for the activity that I enjoy most, which is cycling. I have dropped some extra muscle on top since I am not doing gymnastics, hard labor, or activities that need the extra bulk going up a hill on a bike. I'm down to 147.2 pounds and getting leaner, and stronger, and feeling better, daily. Life is GOOD!

Taking time is mostly a choice: I no longer say "I don't have time to do something." I have to say "I didn't take the time." What I eat, or what I do with my time, is usually a choice.
[Read More]

 

December 01, 2009

This month I would like to discuss the idea of routines (other than those performed in competitions).

I am really getting into my old and new routine for my health/fitness goals and for my other business/life goals. Routines, patterns and daily habits help me achieve the goals that I set for myself. For me, deciding to stay in one place (this time in Washington state), has allowed me to settle into a very positive routine in my work, athletic goals and nutritional changes. Being able to have a plan as to what my work and workout plans are every day and week allows me to stay focused on my goals. For me, that includes a sports plan of 10 hours per week of cycling workouts (supplied by coach Michael) that at present, include (3) Tempos rides/week that include 3 x 20 minutes at 178-190 Watts and 154-157 Heart Rate and two endurance rides that can be in a wide range of effort for recovery and to add more hours for the week. I do two weight/stretching workouts that are up to about 1:15 hours per week, and still have time for recovery and work, such as visiting John Smith at NASA Gymnastics in Gig Harbor, WA and Jan Urfer Klahane Gymnastics in Port Angeles. I also got to get feedback on more new ideas, locally at the Twisters gym in Port Townsend, with Coach Bob, and at the Jefferson County Rec Center with Carrie Lennox.

It's been much easier than it would be for most people to adapt to a very healthy eating life style of good carbs (vegetables, fruits, and rice, oatmeal, and no flour or sugar), good protein (mostly plant or dairy based, some chicken, fish and turkey, and very little red meat), and good fat, which we all need, in some fish, olives, walnuts and almonds, some seeds, including ground flax seeds ( I use Diana's coffee grinder). This would be a challenge on the road or at a far away office.

Between the changes in my workouts, rest, eating, and strength/stretching, I am getting stronger, have more energy (when I'm not maxing out my efforts on the porch bike rides), and I'm back down to 151.6 pounds, and working on dropping the next 6-10 pounds of fat in the next two months.

So much for me and my routines; we all need structure in our work, play and recreation. Whether you are an athlete with a goal to compete, or someone just trying to get healthier and possibly lose some unwanted pounds. That's what workout schedules are for, but also should be what routines for life are for. Look at your goals and see if your routines are helping you achieve them. As my associate Salty the Seagull would say, "Life is good". Enjoy the holidays and all of the other days, and have some fun. Doug

 

November 02, 2009

October is going fast, whether it's in preparation for a new competitive season, a new business season, or my prep for a ride up Mt Constitution. There is always preparation, and the potential for success that follows. I added a new daily reminder in my semi smart Blackberry that pops up every day. It says: new opportunities, everyday for getting rested, losing fat, getting fitter, better business and new ideas. What are your daily, weekly and annual goals? It's good to have them, even if they don't all work out. How bored I would be without them.
After about a month of interval training, supervised by my coach Michael, from Carmichael Training Systems, I made it up Mt Constitution on Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands northwest of Seattle, on my Trek Pilot road bike. A memorable day, October 12, it took 56 minutes at 163 Watts, and 156 average heart rate. I went slow and cautious, as my last try in April, ended in a blow-up, and I didn't make it to the top. I found that I could have gone harder, but, at least I didn't stop. Now I plan to come back in the spring (it was 43 degrees), and do it hard, after I train all winter and spring, lose more fat, and get fitter. Then I will start really training hard to ride the STP (Seattle to Portland ride) in July, 200 miles in under 11 riding hours is my goal.
In between setting and achieving the summit of Mt. Constitution, I enjoyed a day or two at the Region 2 Mini-Congress in Auburn, WA, hosted by Auburn Gymnastics. It was good to work with Brian Muenz, and Jim Tighe, two of our dealers in the region, and to visit with coaches in the area. I got the good news that Klahhane Gymnastics, in Port Angeles, WA, had gotten the ok to move into their new home and were ready to set up their 40 ft Tumbl Trak and landing mat. I went to their gym Wednesday, Oct 14, and helped set up the Tumbl Trak, the first piece of equipment in the gym. They have a nice, new gym area, with much more room than in their previous facility, and are busy setting it up as I write this. Best luck, and enjoyment to all concerned. I plan to come back and offer a clinic when I get back from my Idaho-Utah-Oregon trip coming up.
When I am at home I try and spend some time with my friend Carrie who had a Kit Fit program. We always have a lot of fun, she is creative and it is a great testing ground for some of my ideas both the ones that work out and the ones that don't. I leave there renewed, refreshed and with more ideas that when I got there.
I talked with Chere Hoffman, of Vancouver, WA, after doing my morning porch ride, and headed down her way. Chere recently sold her gym, Gold Star Gymnastics, and celebrated by travelling to New Zealand, to visit a friend with a gym there. As extra luggage she took an Air Floor and a Sweet Spot, which they fell in love with, and kept.

 

October 01, 2009

Since it's back to a new season, I wanted to take a little time to discuss a subject dear to my heart. It's called inertia, and Newton mentioned it a long time ago. My inspiration for this reference is my friend, Leonard Isaacs. He would refer to Newton's law about how objects that are still, tend to remain still. In business, work, and fun, I am referring to the temptation to keep teaching and learning in the same way. A wise coach and clinician, Jeremy Waldridge, who owns Topnotch Gymnastics in Hillsboro, OR, was presenting a tumbling coaches' certification course that I took a year or two ago, and he expressed the idea that 'if you are coaching the way you were coached, you are probably liable.' His point was that things change, and we need to change with them. Just because we were taught a certain way, does not mean that it is the best way to teach now.

Think about why we teach they way we do, and ask yourself if there are any changes or improvements that could be made. My job is to look at the equipment we use to teach gymnastics, tumbling and cheer students (whether they are beginner, recreation or elite), and to ask "Is there a better design or idea that might help student-athletes learn safer and faster?" I am always looking for suggestions and ideas to help me achieve that goal-then I love to share them with other coaches and teachers through videos, pictures, or other descriptions.

I challenge every coach to be progressive in their approach to teaching. Of course, feel free to peruse Tumbl Trak's training tips webpage for ideas on new equipment, drills and stations as you start fresh into your new season. Good luck!

Doug

 

September 03, 2009

I had a nice visit with Ed and Nancy Gibson, Gym Plus, in Merrillville, IN. They enjoyed using the Jr. Bungee Block as a bar wall station, as well as the Air Barrel and the Open Shoulder Trainer. Ed and his staff were creative in using the products. We went on to Patti Komara and met with her as well as Sharon Fitzgerald, and got positive feedback on our Jr. Kip Bar, with the Cast Trainer. We are now working on a collapsible Jr. Kip Bar for Sharon's mobile program. I would like to congratulate Patti on 40 years in the gymnastics business. Way to go, Patti!
On our way back home, we visited with Al and Cindy Scharns at Branch Gymnastics in Battle Creek, MI and Kids Sport USA in Kalamazoo, MI. Kids Sport USA is a beautiful new facility with gymnastics, Martial Arts, dance, a daycare with a kitchen; and they're working on a pool, plus plans for continued expansion.

I started out for Dallas on my Aero, cycling nearly 60 miles south toward Lansing, MI. After an overnight in IL, we stopped at Barron's Gymnastics in St. Louis. Joe and Diana had invited us to stop after their week-long camp. They have a refreshing philosophy of lighter-than-average team hours, and their daughter, Julie has started an innovative program, B-Fit, which even includes information on nutrition!

We met with Gymnastics Joe Garrett, a past Tumbl Trak employee, and now a well known and successful gym owner near Fayetteville, AR. He is remodeling two theatre spaces in a mall, one for gymnastics with an in-ground Tumbl Trak and loose foam pit, the other with a dance floor for high school prom dances and other events. We made one more gym visit, with Craig Callaway, to Snow's Gymnastics in Keller, TX. They were reviewing equipment for their big cheer program.

USAG Congress in Dallas-as usual it was exciting to see old friends and to show off our new products, both with snazzy video showing lots of uses, and the products themselves. The Open Shoulder Trainers were the hit of the convention! Because I had such great help from my staff, I was able to arrive after the booths were set up, and to leave Friday evening.

We left Dallas on Friday night, heading west. We stayed in Flagstaff with my brother Ward and his wife. They were hosting a pot-luck, and an energetic 6-year-old local gymnast tried out my Air Barrel, floor bar, and Jr. Bungee Block which was leaning against a sofa in the living room.

The next day we drove south to visit Flip City Gymnastics, Diane Brot-Upham's gym in Cottonwood, AZ. She is expanding her gym space for more recreational classes, and was interested in the Air Barrel, the Jr. Bungee Block and the Cast Trainer.

After a wonderful, but short visit to the Grand Canyon-cycled along the South Rim at 5:30AM-we headed for Santa Clara, CA and Region 1 Mini-Congress. I had not been to Region 1 for a long time. It was as nice a site and visit as I remembered.

We headed out of Santa Clara on Saturday evening and stayed in Rohnert Park, so we could visit Point Reyes National Seashore on Sunday morning. What a rugged coastline with a lovely little Lighthouse!

On to Ashland, OR where we set up ....for Tammy Johnson and her YMCA program in Ashland, OR. After trying out the Jr. Kip Bar with Cast Trainer in the morning with a few of her team kids, she had them call their teammates to come in and try it in the afternoon. She was so impressed that she ordered the pieces the next day.

Finally, on August 26, we made it back to our house in Port Townsend-more than ready for a break from travel! The Tumbl Trak office is gearing up for Region 5 Mini Congress in IL, which Michelle and James will attend, and the Region 2 Mini Congress in WA. For the next several months, I will not be doing much traveling, but Michelle will be doing an extended trip after Region 5.

 

August 05, 2009

I would like to invite everyone who is attending this year's National Congress on August 13-15 in Dallas, TX to visit our booth and check out all our new equipment. We're looking forward to our time in the Lone Star State! I would also like to mention that from now on "Doug's Blog" will become "Tumbl Trak's Blog". The new blog will still let you know what I am doing, but will now include information from other members of my staff who are traveling and visiting gyms.

July was a training and prep summer month for most of us, including me. I was mostly able to stay home (office), or near by, to finish the video and design work that is all looking great. Michelle, our Sales Representative and Marketing Coordinator, did a great trip over the week of the 4th and James, our Equipment Coordinator and Executive Assistant, went to Flipfest Camp in TN for a week. Make sure to check out their portion of the Tumbl Trak Blog below. On July 8-15, I did take a trip down to South Eastern Illinois and Indiana, and had some nice visits with gyms there.
In Spencer, IN we had a good visit at Cathleen's Extreme Team, owned by Cathleen McPhee. She has a great program for her community that includes Artistic Gymnastics and a full day care center. They had great fun with the Open Shoulder Trainer, the Cast Trainer (which they used with an AAI handstand trainer, our proto type air vault run (it's a narrow air floor for sprint technique), a Jr. Bungee Block, and Launch Pad.

I stopped at the Illinois Gymnastics Club of Olney, in Olney, IL, owned by Donna and Kelly Henby, and did a short clinic with some of their tumbling classes. They really liked our new Open Shoulder Trainer, and called later to order five. I used the Air Barrel to demonstrate how easy it is to train beginners to stretch out a bridge. They have a beautiful gym, with an in ground Tumbl TRAK into a pit, in ground Tramps and a nice set up for Tumbling and Tramp.

On Tuesday afternoon, 7/15, after seeing Donna and Kelly in the morning I went to St. Elmo, IL to deliver a 20 ft Air TRAK and a Mini Mountain to Tara Quandt, who is moving her program into a new facility.

I'm excited about another new Tumbl Trak product, the 488 Mat. It is inspired by a 4' x 8' x 8" folding mat that I saw at Shelly's program on Orcas Island, WA. For our mat, we added a large Velcro flap and loop on the top, and non-skid strips to the bottom to make it very useful, safe and versatile. It's nice to see programs serving the small, as well as the large communities, to offer fun tumbling and gymnastics instruction. Keep it up, all of you.

I did get in a little training and did the Black Bear Bike ride, which I shared with my good friend and mentor, Leonard Isaacs. I did the first 55 miles and Leonard did the last 45 miles. It was a nice fast tail wind aided ride, and although I didn't push quite the watts that I had hoped, I averaged 21.2 mph, at 172 watts and a 151 heart rate average, with the help of my recumbent with front and back fairings and a body sock that covered me. I was warm and mostly dry, compared to Leonard and most of the riders. Leonard set a new record of 16.2 mph, which is much harder on a regular road bike. Way to go Leonard! He is up to 111 miles in one day on his Sunday rides. I'm glad he could come over. We did discuss some gymnastics ideas, and he gave me a new idea for a Back Handspring trainer that we will be working on.

 

July 08, 2009

It's been another busy month, but this one was done more from Michigan, near the office, to prepare for the photo shoot of new and improved products for our next catalog. We have nearly finalized some of the best new ideas that we have ever worked on. The video, soon to be posted on our web page, will show how coaches and athletes can Train Smarter. Collecting the video has taken me most of the last year, doing over 50 video shoots, in dozens of gyms, across 10-15 states. Some of the new products, I believe should revolutionize training, while remaining very simple, small and low-cost.

These new products include the Cast Trainer, that attaches to our already popular Jr. Kip Bar, the Open Shoulder Trainer, the Jr. Bungee Block, the Bungee Incline, the Air Barrel, a new size Pit Pillow mat, an improved Floor Bar, and a new and improve Launch Pad.

For bar skills, the Cast Trainer offers the biggest change in learning stations in many years. The general idea of bending over a bar and flipping up to a handstand is not new. But to have an adjustable bar that can allow beginners to experience an aided cast to handstand then gradually raise that bar so that the movement approaches a cast handstand is something new. The Cast Trainer will help almost any gymnast develop some form of a cast handstand, without the fear and risk of using a competition bar. Since the Cast Trainer uses the Jr. Kip Bar for the base, it takes up only a 4 ft x 6 ft area. Safe matting and some experience of being in a handstand on the floor are all that is needed.
As I often say, my equipment is never a substitute for proper supervision, coaching, technique, or conditioning, but with all of these included, life has just gotten a little easier for bar coaches and bar swingers. The kids love it, and we have already seen many other applications beyond casting for the combination of the Jr. Kip Bar and the Cast Trainer. Check out more of the video clips on Tumbl Trak's webpage, in our Training Tips, under Bars/Casting.

The Open Shoulder Trainer is another idea that has been out in the world for some time, but has not been widely shared with the entire Gymnastics and Cheer communities, until now. I have heard that Tammy Biggs has been using one in her clinics for some time, and individuals have created hand-made units for years. The Open Shoulder Trainer is a padded, shaped bar that fits around the neck and under the arms of athletes. It is designed to keep the head in and shoulders open for skills that include and move through a handstand. With the Open Shoulder Trainer in place, the athletes' arms must remain up, with the shoulders open. For some it's just a good reminder of what they hear their coaches repeating all the time, "Keep your head in. Keep your arms up!" The Open Shoulder Trainer is useful for basic skills like a kick handstand, cartwheel, round off, limber over and walk over. It is also a great learning device for back handsprings and front handsprings. The Open Shoulder Trainer also reminds bar workers to keep those shoulders open for flyaways. For such a small, and simple device, the Open Shoulder Trainer should make a big difference in learning better technique for most skills that move through a handstand.

 

June 02, 2009

5/2-Saturday: I stopped at Jill Hill's Southern Oregon Gymnastics Academy in Medford, OR on my trip to California and Utah. They had read in my earlier blog that I'd visited the Ashland-Medford area and emailed me to stop by the next time I was in their vicinity. They had just put in their first in-ground, loose-foam pit, so we played in it and on the floor with my Bungee products.

5/4-Monday: I had a nice visit at Woodward West in Tehachapi, CA; talked with Andy Timm and showed him some of the Tumbl Trak products that will be at the Summer Gymnastics Camp there. I also stopped at Dean & Julie Archer's Perfect 10 Gymnastics, which has two gyms near each other in Tehachapi. I worked with their boys' team. Their oldest son is graduating from high school and he was coaching the boy's team and other classes for the summer. They were very interested in the Bungee products. [Read More]

 

May 06, 2009

On April 7, 8, 9, we helped Carrie Lennox, and her staff at the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation (JCPR) department do their first mobile tumbling day camp in Brinnon, WA. We brought in a Prius full of inflatable equipment (see pic), and Carrie brought a truck load of mats and other items. We set up a basic tumbling program for three age-groups: K-2nd, 3rd -5th, and 6-8th grade girls and boys at Brinnon Elementary school. The camp ran three days, and the kids had fun, and kept learning more every day. Carrie and her assistant, Ronda did a great job, and this will lead to a permanent mobile program for JCPR, using a nice package of our Bungee mats, and other equipment. Great job Carrie and Ronda!

On Wednesday, April 29, to follow up on the camp, we did a day visit with Carrie's Wednesday early-release after-school program, with the kids here in Port Townsend, using much of the same equipment.

On May 20-22 we mixed business with pleasure, and took two ferries out to the San Juan Islands. We stayed on Orcas Island where there is a small mobile program. We visited Shelly Russell, who has been running classes two times per week, setting up a truck-full of equipment in the Odd Fellows Hall. Shelly has extensive experience coaching and teaching (read her article below) and the Orcas Islanders are very lucky to have her there. She is very positive, and her stations and progressions remind me of the ones I used to use, when I taught similar programs. We brought in a Bungee Incline, Ramp and Jr Block, and the kids had a great time and did a wonderful job. Way to go Shelly!

I hope everyone is surviving and succeeding in the season, and can start enjoying some spring and summer weather.

Doug

 

April 02, 2009

On March 6th, I delivered a Tumbl Trak to Lisa at the gymnastics gym at the YMCA in Elkhart, IN. Then we went on to Marvin Sharp at Sharp's Gymnastics in Indianapolis, IN where Olympians Bridgett Sloan and Samantha Peszak were busy training. It's been very enjoyable to visit Marvin's gym, especially when he and his staff appreciate the new and proto type equipment that I have put in, on trial for them to evaluate.

On March 10, the 60-foot Tumbl Trak and other products ordered by USA Gymnastics arrived at the Women's National Team Training Center in Waverly, TX, on March 10. The following week, the gym was used for the developmental training camp by the National Team. It's great news to have such a training gym down at the Center where coaches and athletes can learn from the best of the national staff.

March 13, I set up some inflatable pieces for Steve Roney's boy's class in Hood River, OR. He has a class for boys who are not preparing for competition, where boys were having fun learning "run-up-the-wall" back tucks and back tucks off the side of an Air Trak, along with wild prep for snow boarding and other general fun. We always enjoy visiting Steve. I can always count on him thinking up new ways to use our products.

On March 16, we observed Bainbridge Island Parks and Recreation (WA) department's Parkour/street gymnastics class, which reminded me of the boys class at Hood River. There were 20+ kids and 3 coaches, finding new and exciting ways to use the usual gymnastics equipment-"walking the wall".

Thursday, March 19th, found us at John Smith's NASA Gymnastics in Gig Harbor, WA. We took a collection of bungee mats so the group could prepare for a demonstration at a local high school. We also observed a well-run and creative "Tumbling for Cheer" class there, with several good stations for pre-back handspring, and early back handspring drills. We were impressed with the learner-teacher kids who were helping each other.

Also on March 19, Tumbl Trak set up equipment for a cheerleading photo shoot for some of our newer equipment at George Young's Mid Michigan Gymnastics in Freeland, MI. George's facility is certainly state of the art, and as I've told him, I can't wait to play in the new gym, when the season is over. Kayleen Bishop and Tara Wieland from Gems Allstars train in the same beautiful facility. They helped us with some cheerleaders to appear in the shots. Thank you, George, Kayleen and Tara.
On Saturday, March 21, Top Gun Allstar Cheer did a performance on an Air Floor strip, for the Americheer National Championships in Orlando, FL. We hope we can put up some new video of the Top Gun group, and wish them the best of luck to win their third World Championship, in a row, at the USASF. Thanks, to John Bencomo.

Everyone must be very much into the season, with big meets on the way. Best Luck to everyone, and make sure to have some fun. D

 

March 05, 2009

February 1 found us in Adelaide, Australia (South Australia). We had a good chat with Mark Moncur, who has a club in Tasmania. He'd been presenting at the South Australia Coaches Congress. The next morning, we "hired" bicycles and pedaled about an hour along the left side of ANZAC highway to Glenelg. There was a wonderful empty beach there-we applied more sun screen and enjoyed a walk along the water. It was a hot ride back to our hotel. After we cooled off, David Rath, who coaches gymnastics at the Barossa Valley Youth Club, picked us up and drove us to Tea Tree Gully Youth Club to see the gymnastics program there. They had a nice facility, which included a 6M Air Floor, in a cover, and our vault table top and base blocks. And an air conditioned gym!
On Tuesday morning, David took us to a regional High Performance Center in Marion, just outside of Adelaide. A high performance center is a state funded training center for gymnasts developing for the national team. We watched both girls and boys working out, one doing full-in, full-outs off an Air Floor into a loose foam pit. I shot some video as they were doing some nice drills with the Air Floor. In Adelaide, we began to get used to "looking left" before we crossed a street.
Wednesday, February 4, we flew to Melbourne (Victoria). On Thursday morning, we visited two of Ross Bouskill's Jets Gymnastics gyms in Eltham. One was a high performance training center, where he had an Air Floor, and one was for recreation classes. Both were nicely outfitted. He now has a Bungee Ramp and one of my prototype Air Barrels, too. Ross runs his gyms as private businesses, and coaches a lot of hours, too.

All of the gyms I visited in Australia use carpet bonded foam for their floors, and often for other areas as well. They all had foam blocks, about 3 ft x 4 ft x 2 ft in size, that are used for drills and spotting. Most gyms had mens's high bars, too, if only to do strap bar skills (they call it "loops").
Thursday afternoon, Diana and I got out of Melbourne on a tour to Phillip Island. On the way we stopped at a small ranch with a few kangaroos and wombats, and also at a koala reserve. The highlight of the trip occurred at dusk when the Little Penguins come out of the surf and waddle past the human spectators on their way to burrows in the hills-the Penguin Parade.
Friday, February 6, David, son of Steve and Rosie James, picked us up from our hotel and drove us to Wantirna, where they have Cheer Victoria, a cheer and dance gym, with a Tumbl Trak. I showed video clips of some tumbling drills to their tumbling coach, Deb, her staff and some of other visiting coaches.
David dropped us at Prahran, where we caught a trolley to the Victoria Women's High Performance Center and set up a 4.5 M Air Floor in a cover, a Bungee Ramp, a Sweet Spot in in a cover, which I strapped onto one of their vault tables, a Jr Sweet Spot and an Air Barrel. On Saturday, Tracey Petaluna had set up an Open House for local coaches, so they could see what we had to offer. A few coaches came and it was good to talk about what products and stations were not common in Australia. They were especially interested in Air Floors and Sweet Spots. The heat was rising, and we now know that 44 degrees C is hot (over 110 F!!)
Sunday, February 8, we flew to Sydney (New South Wales), where it was much cooler, and rainy. On Monday, Geoff Carley picked us up from our hotel and drove us to the Epping YMCA, which has the only elite program in New South Wales, that is in a YMCA program. Enrollment is 1300 kids, and this Y does mobile programs at several other centers, using a mobile trailer to carry mats, wedges, carpet-bonded foam, even a set of bars-which can be set up in about 20 minutes. I set up the Air Floor and showed video clips its many uses, as theirs would be arriving soon. Instructional staff from several YMCAs who would be using their Air Floor were a good, interactive audience. One of the coaches, Max Holmes, gave us the phone number for his daughter-in-law, Nicole, who was planning a new space for her cheer gym. We enjoyed the 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay (Sydney) to Manly, north of the city, with a 4.5M Air Floor in a roller bag. Nicole and her husband, Ben, gave us a tour of Northern Beaches Gymnastics, not far from Manly, where the cheer group has been renting space. They should have their own gym up and going now. Best luck to them. Cheer is growing in Australia.
On Tuesday, we packed up the Air Floor and sent it to Blue Lakes Gym Club in South Australia. The Air Barrel and a Bungee Ramp were sent back to Ross at Jets Gymnastics.
Wednesday afternoon, February 11, we caught the train to Croyden, a suburb west of the city, and met Rebekah Stevens, Director of Gymnastics and Diving at Presbyterian Ladies College. This is a private girls' school, with children age 5 through high school. Their gymnastics team had recently been to the Aloha Classic in Hawaii, where John Smith from Gig Harbor, WA had met them and gave us their name. We contacted her, and she invited us to visit. I enjoyed spending a few minutes with some of Rebekah's 6-year-old students and showed some drills to get better use out of their nice blocks-those 3 ft x 4 ft x 2 ft blocks mentioned earlier. We did handstands and bridges off them, and the kids had a great time.
February 12 was a high mileage day-from Sydney, Australia, to Michigan...how many miles is that?? On Friday, February 13, I handed off my international cell phone to Stacy, who took off for China.
[Read More]

 

February 03, 2009

Happy 2009. I've tried to keep productive by visiting gyms in the northwest, where I am for the next few days, before leaving for fun and business in Australia.

On January 12, we traveled down to Vancouver, WA to enjoy a playdate with Cheri, at Gold Star Gymnastics. She gave me some great ideas, and drills that I collected on video to share. We did a lot with my new Air Barrel, a product that we are evaluating, and hope to bring out in the next 6 months. It's nice to have some products like these that will be simple and low cost, but that can offer so many applications.

January 13, we went on south and played at the YMCA, in Ashland, OR, where Tammy Johnson has been doing a great job with her classes and team for several years. Tammy is another creative coach, and I really enjoyed her demonstration of vaulting across her Air TRAK, to get her kids comfortable with stretching into their handspring vaults. Enjoy the video link below.

January 14, in Medford, OR, I loaned some equipment to Chris, at America's Best Kids. They have quite a program in a facility that offers a daycare center, martial arts, gymnastics, swimming and more. It's a beautiful setup. Chris is another futuristic thinker-we enjoyed discussing where the future of gymnastics equipment should go. For example, Chris suggested that using take-off devices for vaulting, that are more friendly than the present vault board, would be a big improvement for the kids. I'm couldn't agree more. Competitive equipment is great for some kids, but may not always the best choice for many.

January 21, the next week I had a fun afternoon with my friend Carrie Lennox, at the Port Townsend Recreation Center, where she has an early release, after-school group. She used the Air Barrel and the high end of the Bungee Incline for back rolls to handstand, and found that even kids who had never done them before, could be amazingly successful! These kids are pictured below in the Handstand Control article. They had fun and did a great job

The next day I visited John Smith's gym, NASA Gymnastics, in Gig Harbor, WA, and we must have used the Air Barrel and Bungee mats for a dozen different applications (see video clip link below). I love to visit gyms with such creative coaches, who are always looking for more ways to teach skills to their student athletes. John and his team had just gotten back from the Aloha Cup in Hawaii, where his kids did very well. They sure didn't look jet lagged to me. I hope I can do as well in a week.

I also did a short visit with Brian Muenz, at the Lakewood YMCA, where they have a big gymnastics program, with pits, an in-ground tumble tramp, and a gym full of kids anytime I go there. Brian and I discussed some ideas for more handstand work using the Air Barrel and small training bars to help with cast handstands. Brian always has more good ideas, too.

January 24, I went with coach Bob, of Twisters Gymnastics to workout at Greg Mutchler's, Olympic Training Center, in Silverdale, WA. Greg is very generous in allowing small programs like the Twisters, to come into his gym and share the great setup he has. While we were there, I also met Troy, who had some of his kids in from Mile High Gymnastics in Port Orchard, WA. There was room for Greg's classes, team, and both of the other visiting groups, and everyone was having a great time. Thanks, Greg.

January 27, we had a good visit with Bryan Garouette, coordinator of the gymnastics program of the Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District. Bryan has run the program since 1988, and it currently has 300 students of all ages and abilities, as well as competitive teams. He has one gym for team and some preschool classes, and a separate gym for recreational classes up to age 6 years. Both gyms have Tumbl Traks. We watched Alison with a small group of home-school preschoolers, and learned about the history and growth of the program. Look for a newsletter article later. Thanks, Bryan and Alison.

 

January 15, 2009

We left Michigan on Monday, December 8, just ahead of a snow storm that dropped about 12 inches on Tumbl Trak's office. On our way to Palestine, IL, we stopped at Kids Are Tops near Dayton, OH, to talk with Doug Sears about a cast handstand training device. John Rothlisberger happened to be there-it was good to see him, and remind him that his dad, Fred, was my first coach, and is part of the reason that Tumbl Trak exists. Wednesday, a few of the Illini Rumblers came in to help me with some video. Thursday we left for Dallas, Texas to join Craig Callaway for a couple of gym visits. We met with Isis, coach at ASI Gymnastics in Mesquite, then visited PC, Perseus Carter, at World of Gymnastics, in Saginaw, TX. He's an old friend, a tumbler from the Detroit area-Motor City Jaguars coached by Noel Perrin. At the Kurt Thomas School of Gymnastics in Frisco, TX, Kurt showed us his intense plyometrics workout, with some Tumbl Trak products-it looked like a real challenge! The purpose of plyometrics is to develop leg power for quick punching. On December 14, we set up a booth at a big cheer meet in Garland-it was pretty special, with cheer competitors and attendees donating several semi-truck loads of toys for charity.

From Texas, we worked our way toward Denver, passing through Amarillo, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs, where there was record cold. On our trip across the Rockies on I-70 snow delayed us a bit, but the roads improved in Utah, and we arrived at Springville, where Don and I went to Air Time Gymnastics, and I recorded some of the gymnasts there using our prototype Air Barrel for twisting drills.

Our plans to get to Ashland, OR, changed when we got a phone call from my sister warning us not to risk traveling there, as snow was closing roads in southern OR. So we drove north toward Boise where the weather was much better! After a few nasty spots on I-84 across the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, and more wind and ice along the Columbia River, we made it to Steve Roney's gym in Hood River. A few kids braved the weather to get into the gym there, and we played with the Air Barrel and the Bungee Incline. December 20 found us in Vancouver, WA for the night, and after reports of another snow storm heading down toward Seattle, we left Saturday for Port Townsend. Just like in most of the rest of the country, snow greeted us here, too!

 

December 01, 2008

Happy Holidays to everyone. I've had a great start to the holiday season with lots of travel, as usual! My trip back to Michigan from Port Townsend began on Monday, November 3, at 7 AM as the ferry arrived in Seattle. At Selah, near Yakima, I had a good discussion with Tammy Bonsen of Gym Kids, about education--developing possible theme sheets for our products. Her staff goal for the month was to have each staff member meet 4 parents of students and learn 4 things about them. From there I went to Gym Plus in Yakima, where I enjoyed exploring uses of Bungee mats with Michelle, a coach there. We used the Bungee Block for the bar wall station and the wall of death/flyaway station, with a foam block under it to raise it up. On Tuesday, I recorded some video at Progressive Power Tumbling, of kids using the Bungee pieces as a preparatory station for double mini tramp. On Wednesday afternoon, I stopped at Colorado West Gymnastics in Grand Junction, CO, to let some cheerleaders use an Air Floor, to demonstrate their stability, as their coach had some concern about rolling ankles. I also recorded some drills using the Bungee mats, then drove through some nasty snow to Dillon, CO for the night. The next morning I drove on to Colorado Springs to see Tom Forster, Aerials, and to discuss progress on the Forster bar system. This was another chance to record more video for bar drills using the Bungee Block, Ramp and Incline. I made a quick stop at Alpine Allstar Cheer, and set up some learning stations with the Bungee Block and a 3 M Air floor with a cover. By Friday afternoon, I was working with the Tumbleweeds tumblers in Colby, KS. The clinic went well, and the coaches were impressed with the Bungee Block, Incline and Ramp. I stayed in York, NE, that night, then got to Chow's Gymnastics and Dance in West Des Moines, IA, Saturday. I recorded some video of his top kids using the Air Floor, Sweet Spot on the vault table, and other Bungee pieces, then drove to Peru, IL, for the night.

Sunday morning, November 9, found me at the Region 5 Super Camp at Todd Gardner's gym, Illinois Institute of Gymnastics in Chicago, IL. We tried the Bungee Ramp on one of the vault tables and the kids seemed to like the added lift. I finally arrive home about 7:30 pm.

I spent the next two weeks working on video of our mats and shapes, so that parents, kids, and coaches may have more uses for them. Visit the Training Tips section on our web page that feature many of the video clips I've recorded over the last several months..

On Thursday, November 20, I visited Carla Colbeck's new gym, Capital Cheer Allstars, in Lansing, MI, driving on snowy roads. Carla opened her gym in September and already has five cheer teams working out there. Best of luck, and way to go, Carla.

Saturday we watched and recorded some video at the Santa's Day parade in Midland, MI. Midland Gymnastics Training Center (MGTC) had a special cart made to carry a large Bungee Mat for showing off tumbling skills. It was pulled along behind their trailer so that gymnasts could do back handsprings, back tucks, and even back handspring-back tucks on the mat, along with the usual street tumbling. They were a big hit. It was a cool 32 degrees, so cheers to the hearty kids of MGTC! [Read More]

 

November 03, 2008

We started west on September 30, 2008, stopping in Lansing, MI, where I talked with Dr. Larry Nassar, who reminded me that Neil Resnick is known for trying to teach with less spotting. Because Dr. Nassar is concerned with sports injuries (even to coaches!), he appreciates what less spotting can do to reduce a coach's chance of shoulder injuries. This is right in line with our philosophy, so I plan to talk with Neil on my way back to Michigan in November, to learn more. We stayed with Bob and Gretchen Bradley in Mequon, WI-Bob is my "business mentor."

At the M&M Gymastics in New Berlin, WI, I video recorded the clinic that Leonard Isaacs had with a group of top-level team girls on October 1. Leonard's presentation of 2.5 hours was well-received, and a brief summary of the girls' responses appears as a separate article in this month's newsletter.

At Chow's Gymnastics & Dance in Des Moines, Chow and his team of girls greeted us as we parked our car, welcoming us to Iowa. Chow offered several ideas for equipment. One is having a soft obstacle to vault over which would attach to the far end of vault table-an idea that Neil Resnick has been promoting for many years. Chow shared ideas about how he uses our products. He likes to use the 3 M Air Floor sideways for the athlete's feet to hit, when tumbling into the pit.

Hours after a 75-minute bicycle ride on hilly US 34 west of Lincoln, NE, which ended suddenly with a flat tire, we arrived in Atwood, KS. On Saturday morning, October 4, 2008 we did a clinic for the recreational kids of Creative Movements Gymnastics in Atwood, using Bungee mats and an Air Floor (see photo). The kids were good listeners, and had lots of fun on the Bungee products.

After a stop in Denver to visit a relative, and stay with a friend, we stopped to see Tom Forster of Aerials in Colorado Springs on Sunday, October 5. We discussed his bar training system, as well as some of Tom's other ideas. It is encouraging to see the innovation happening all over the country to improve the training of our athletes. That evening we had supper in Canon City, CO, with Wendy, who co-coached the tumblers of the Port Townsend Twisters with Doug last year. She's a college freshman in Pueblo, and a cheerleader there. The next day we made it to Black Canyon of the Gunnison for a short but great fall hike there. [Read More]

 

October 02, 2008

The Cheer, Tumbling and Gymnastics seasons are upon us. Some start earlier than others, but, with so many levels and ages, it seems to go on for, let's say, a long time. Best luck, with the competitions and the recreation programs. The Olympics sound like they are helping at least some areas, make up for the slowed economy. We are all looking for options and ideas to keep up the growth of our sports and businesses.

On September 10-12, Diana, Michelle (our newest employee), and I took a quick tour back over to Illinois and Wisconsin. We met with Patti Komara, owner and founder of Patti's All-American Gymnastics and her sister Sharon Fitzgerald, owner and founder of Tumble Bear Mobile Gymnastics, first. They are both based out of Dyer, Indiana. Patti has an awesome recreational program, as would be expected, and Sharon has the biggest and best mobile program. Patti and Sharon share their creative abilities to keep classes and curriculum fresh and fun, and are always looking for new ways to do so.

Sharon's mobile program is up to seven mini vans and will be visiting over 2200 students per week, in the near future. I still believe that the mobile program is an answer for many businesses to grow and reach the public that is less likely to drive their kids to a gym.

We went on to visit my friend Leonard Isaacs, Owner of American Academy of Gymnastics, in Wheeling, Illinois. We played with our new Bungee mats there, and his kids had a great time and helped up evaluate our efforts to upgrade and improve our concept of sealed air, tumbling and mat products. We keep discovering more applications for the Bungee mat, Bungee Block and the Bungee Ramp, almost daily.

Many of the uses for the Bungee products could not be done with any other product, which is what has kept me motivated to continue to work on them. I am proud to say that we are finally ready to bring out this product line. You can see some of the video clips of their uses on our training tips, which is growing by leaps, bounds and flips. Check it out.

Our third stop was to Andy and Jeanelle Memmels, M&M Gymnastics, in New Berlin, Wisconsin, also the home of Chellsie Memmel. Chellsie was off traveling the country with the Olympic Tour, and her foot is healing up fast. We had a play date with Andy's top level kids, and the skills they did using our Bungee mats was very nice to see. Andy thought of yet one more application for the Bungee mat, to help teach the toe rise on bars, from the low to high bar. We will be including this drill and others on our training tips soon. Michelle-can we put the clip in here??

We took the Lake Express Ferry (the fast one) back from Milwaukee to Michigan, on Friday, September 12. I am spending the rest of September trying to finish up projects since I will be heading west for a month, or so, after attending the region 5 mini congress, in Indianapolis, Indiana, September 26-28.

We will be meeting Leonard at M&M Gymnastics, October 1, to video record a clinic that he will present there, and I will be ready to share that in the near future. We will head west after that, and visit gyms in Iowa (Tumble Time, in Davenport, Chow's Gymnastics in West Des Moines), Kansas (Attwood Gymnastics, where my cousin, Kathy, and her family live), Tom Forster's Aerials Gymnastics, in Colorado Springs, Sunday, October 5, the same day the tour is in town, Don Gordon, in Springville, Utah, on Tuesday, October 7, and go on to Portland, Oregon for the region 2 mini congress that is at the MAC, on October 10-12.

We'll be in Port Townsend, Washington for about a month and then I may head East, again, to help prepare for the holiday sales that will include the Chellsie product line.

Enjoy the fall weather and best luck with the upcoming competition and business season.

Doug

 

September 11, 2008

Wow, what a month August was. For gymnastics the biggest news is, of course, the Olympics. The men's and women's teams did their country proud. The women had some challenges, but their grace in winning the Team Silver medal was evident. Nastia and Shawn were both magnificent, in All Around and Individual events. Chellsie had bad luck with here ankle injury, but still performed on bars, to help the team, and did it on a broken bone!

It may be news to some that the Chinese Women's Team's overall difficulty was more than two points higher than that of the USTeam. Remember, the Chinese women (or girls) did a great job!

NEW WEB PAGE: Tumbl Trak has launched a new web page that should be much more user friendly (although many people have told us the like the old one). For my part, I am proud to say that we are about to start a new, and improved training tips area, that will not only have the video that was on the old page, but, in the next weeks and months, I will be loading up hundreds of drills and skills for TUMBLING, BARS, BEAM, VAULT, as well as a special section for CHEER TUMBLING. Viewers will be able to click on Training tips, and then go to any Activity event), and within the activity, find a sub category of skills to review. For Example if you click on Tumbling, you can then decide to look at video of Round off drills, Back handsprings, whip backs, and many more. It is still a work in progress, but we are finally ready to share the hundreds of clips and many great ideas that coaches all over the country have been sharing with us.

New product line: The Mark of Memmel! From her stellar performance a the 2003 Pan American Games to her dedicated display at the 2008 Olympic Games, Chellsie Memmel has made her mark in the world of gymnastics. Now you can own a piece of history with the new Chellsie line of equipment from Tumbl Trak. Chellsie equipment includes the Jr. Training Bar, Chellsie Mats, and a Chellsie Beam all done in her signature color purple.

[Read More]

 

August 05, 2008

On July 2nd, I stopped by Chow's Gymnastics in West Des Moines, IA, home of Shawn Johnson our 2007 World AA champion and member of the 2008 Olympic team. The gym is dried out from the flooding that was so bad in Iowa in June. The whole community, in Chow's area, pitched in to help get the gym back up and going in a few days. [Read More]

 

June 30, 2008

Gymnastics news
The big June news for gymnastics included the USA Championships in Boston, June 6-8, USAG Congress in Philadelphia, June 19-22, and the Olympic trials, also in Philadelphia, June 19-21.

At Congress, Tumbl Trak gave away 270 of our new "Smart Sheets" (see photo of one in use), to gym owners who stopped by our booth. We ran out quick. These are just one example of some of the new ideas that Tumbl Trak has developed as part of our Smart Mat Technology.

At the Championships, Chellsie Memmel, M & M Gymnastics in New Berlin, WI, came back with a vengeance to seal third place and announce that she is not gone, at all. To her, Championships were a tune up for the Trials, and the Trials are a tune up for the Olympics. As many of you are aware, at Trials she placed third in all around, with 8 rock solid performances. The cardio sets mentioned last month must be serving her well, as she had plenty left to nail a 15.85 on her floor set in finals, at the Trials. Congratulations to Chellsie and her coach/dad, Andy! She has more skills to add, so keep an eye out for her at the Olympics. When she came to our booths, at Congress, there were 100 to 200 autograph seekers lined up for her.

I wish the best to Shawn Johnson, and her coach Liang Chow, of (Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute in West DesMoines, Iowa. They have had a difficult time with the major flooding that left a foot of water in the gym. Now up and running, the disruption didn't surface in the great performances that Shawn delivered at both the Championships and the Trials. I will be visiting their gym in Iowa soon, on my way to the Tumbling and Trampoline Nationals in Kansas City, Missouri, from July 2-6.

I will also be stopping by Al Fong's Great American Gymnastics Express Gym in Kansas City. His gymnast Ivana Hong is also in the hunt for an Olympic berth, and I wish them the best of luck. Al has a long history of preparing gymnasts for the Olympics, including Courtney McCool and Terin Humphery, for the 2004 Olympics.

Best of luck to all of the athletes who have worked so hard in their quest to represent the USA in the 2008 Olympics. We will have great teams for the women and the men.

Cheer news
In cheer, our big news is the very positive report that we received from Top Gun Allstars, of Naples, FL. John Bencomo, has been testing sections of our Air Cheer Floor, and his top elite men report that they are getting just as high on skills like whips to double fulls, on the Air Cheer Floor as on their spring floor. Other groups are testing out the Air Cheer Floor as we speak, to decide how soon it will be used in more Cheer competitions. We will have more reports and video, soon.

For all of you involved in camps for the summer, enjoy and have fun.

Doug

 

May 30, 2008

While I'm mostly adjusted back to Michigan, I was very pleased to hear that the Twisters Tumblers in Port Townsend, WA, won first place finishes for age 15 and over Level 7, and for 11-12 year olds in Level 5, as well as second place in age 15 and over Level 6 power tumbling, at their state meet May 10. At their Regional Meet on May 31, two of the girls placed first in their age groups for Levels 5 and 7 Power Tumbling. They also did well in Double Mini. From my perspective, it has been amazing how well they have done, without having access to the competitive surfaces-rod floor and a double mini during their training. Most of their tumbling training has been done on a 30-foot inflatable mat.

Because USAG Congress is in June this year, May was a very busy preparation month for it. So our only trip outside of the state was on the 15th to Wisconsin for a visit to M & M Gymnastics, home of Chellsie Memmel and family. We watched some of her afternoon workout, and also took some video of her younger sister, Skyler, and her teammates. Andy and Jeanelle filled us in a bit with their latest travels, and Andy explained the cardio sets she's doing daily (see article below). Chellsie is looking strong and deep in the hunt for the Olympic team gold. Best of luck to her and her family. I hope some of you can come and cheer for her at the trials in Philadelphia, as we will be. She will be competing at Nationals next weekend.

We have less than three weeks until the trials and Congress, and that is our main focus, especially since it's our 20th anniversary in the business. Chellsie has been part of Tumbl Trak, nearly from birth, since she started doing round off back handsprings on her own on an early Tumbl Trak, at age three and a half years. It's hard to believe she herself will be 20 years old, shortly after the trials. Chellsie will be at our booth area at the exhibition hall, at Congress to sign autographs, on Saturday, June 21, at 1:30 pm. If you are there, come and celebrate with us. We will be giving out a free gift to gym owners worth $30.

I hope to see you there.

Doug