1. Practice Forming Healthy Habits
There are two ways to adopt new behaviors: increase motivation or decrease the barrier for entry. In fitness, attempting to increase motivation is the predominant form of behavioral modification, and most often through “negative incentivizing.” Have you ever been pressured or guilt tripped for not training hard enough? I certainly have.
Increasing motivation, especially though guilt, results in the gym-goer feeling bad about the very thing they are trying to do more of. One solution is to replace negative reinforcement with positive and the best trainers and coaches do this.
However, there is an even simpler solution - make new fitness behaviors much smaller and easier to accomplish. As one example, a gym-goer who adopts the goal a single, daily push-up is much more likely to continue to expand her fitness repertoire than the fitness-enthusiast who sets the goal of running a marathon next year. Running a marathon is too big a leap at the beginning.
Learning handstands is a goal similar to practicing a daily push-up. It is difficult enough to be challenging and specific enough - if you know the steps - that learners continue on the path of skill acquisition.
(If you are interested in the learning more about increasing motivation versus decreasing barrier for entry, check out the “Fogg Behavioral Model” at http://www.behaviormodel.org/)
There are extensive scientific studies that show that push-ups are a “gateway drug” to increased physical activity. Push-ups provide an easy exercise, that can be done anywhere with little oversight. Push-up progress is easy to track (“How many push-ups did you do today?”) and lead to wanting more challenging physical activities.
Handstands are the new fitness “gateway drug.” Handstands are more challenging than a single push-up, but need not be impossibly so. Because handstands can be broken down into dozens of tiny, incremental steps, they can be equally easy to learn, and inevitably lead students to wanting even more physical activity. Handstands provide a relatively complete exercise – bringing into play the arms and upper body, chest and core, legs and balance. Like push-ups, handstands can be done anywhere, and with little oversight.
People don’t learn handstands because of a lack of knowledge of the necessary steps.
Progressing through small, incremental steps to the ultimate goal is the fastest way to learn a new skill. Unfortunately, handstands are almost never taught in this way. Every student and most trainers want the outcome - the end result of balancing upside down - right away. The result is that a student is taught to repeatedly throw themselves into handstands, usually against a wall, and struggle to find a balance in this completely unknown position. It is human nature to see a goal and attempt to accomplish that outcome now. In the case of handstands, this impedes our progress.
Instead examine the steps that make up a handstand, just like an infant learns to scoot, crawl, and cruise before walking freely on her own. If you do, you’ll learn handstands much more quickly
For video tutorials of all of the steps necessary to learn handstands visit Robin’s “How To Learn To Do A Handstand” YouTube playlist: http://bit.ly/1wl1PGD
4. Learn To Learn
Breaking down the steps required to balance a handstand will teach you to learn how to learn. By focusing on a specific task, understanding the components, and the habitual patterns that keep you from progressing, you will strengthen your ability to learn. The skillset and confidence that you gain by learning handstands will transfer to other skills that you would like to master. To learn more about learning and mastery, join the Accelerated Learning mailing list, where I send out monthly tips on how to speed up your learning process. Visit www.robinpzander.com/blog/ to sign up.
5. Learn To Dance
My friend Ben Weston teaches men to dance so that women approach them in bars and clubs. I find this a hysterical career (although I almost never go out to bars), but know all to well what it is like to feel uncomfortable dancing in public. Learning handstands was one of the pivotal moves that allowed me to gain confidence in my ability to dance and move effectively. Learning handstands can be a pathway into greater physical comfort – on and off of the dance floor.
6. Overcome Fear
Standing out in a crowd is an important ability to cultivate, whether for getting a job, finding a partner or making an impact on the world. Some people have more natural charisma than others, but the ability to be noticed is a learnable skill. Training handstands develops the skill of standing out. Embarrassment and nervousness are antithesis of balancing a handstand. When you learn to overcome your fears in handstands, you will also overcome fears elsewhere in your life.
Most people training in a new skill aren’t even aware of how much fear plays into limiting their performance. Once in a while I’ll hear an expert gymnasts declare of their masterful double backflip with a full twist that they were scared, but more often, even though our fears play into every physical activity we do, none of us have been taught the simple tools to combat this condition. Practicing handstands is literally practicing the skill of overcoming fear.
Finally, handstands are fun! Handstands can be an empowering physical activity that anyone can learn. They need not be complicated. The daily practice and small victories that I teach in “How to Learn a Handstand” will reward you for incremental progress, and create a fulfilling experience. Practicing handstands, in the gym and outside of the gym, will give you connection to the reasons you want to get more fit to begin with – to look better, to feel better, to enjoy your body. Handstands will help you to have more fun.
The Book – “How To Do A Handstand”
I have together everything I know about learning handstands together with more than 50 images and videos into an e-book entitled: “How To Do A Handstand: Learn To Balance A Fearless Handstand in 20 Day or Less.” The book is available for free on Amazon for the next 5 days.