Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Grand Canyon, Coach Sommer and misc clips...

The Grand Canyon. I'll go right down to it, I wasnt impressed. I tried, I realy did, but it just didnt make it for me. The Grand Canyon is nice and all, but it just wasnt my type of nature.
Have a look at some photos:






After Flagstaff, Avi and I took a drive to my last destination for this trip, Anthem-Arizona, to visit one of the best gymnastics coaches in the world, coach Christopher Sommer.


I got into email contact with Coach Sommer more than 5 years ago, after a release of one of his first articles on gymnastics strength and conditioning. Coach Sommer is a genius in his field of expertise and he was just the man I was searching for, as his methodological approach to gymnastics training is the equivalent of my own work in Capoeira. Coach Sommer is in the business of creating champions, and he has done so successfully in the last 30 years. He has a huge knowledge base and a clear understanding of what it takes to achieve those amazing feats demonstrated in modern gymnastics.
What I didn't know about him (Since I've never met him in person) was the person that he is.
Coach Sommer received me in his beautiful home. He introduced me to his lovely wife and two daughters. I was given a comfortable room to rest in, and we went to eat something at a local Asian restaurant. I could never spend a dime when I was with the coach. He wouldn't hear of it. When we got back home, and after hearing it was my birthday, he insisted on buying me a present. Since I was so impressed with his new digital camera, he decided to buy me one. He went online and ordered me a new camera. The memory card that comes with the camera wasn't good enough in his eyes, so he went on and bought me the best 4 Gb memory card available. My objection was firmly denied and he just wouldn't hear of it. I was getting this present.
We went on to talk shop before going to his gym. Coach was unbelievably generous with his knowledge, going through many details of gymnastics training and preparations, quoting known figures in the gymnastics coaching world and giving credit to each one of them from whom he borrowed something. His understanding of the gymnastics strength, conditioning, flexibility and technical aspects is amazing and unparalleled. Coach Sommer brings his knowledge from speaking with Chinese, Russian, Romanian and other countries coaches and gymnasts. He never refused to answer a question or share a detail.
I was given a copy of Coach Sommer's book. Let me tell you, this thing is amazing. This book will change the BW training world. It is so detailed and full of knowledge, everyone is up for a treat. And I don't mean everyone - common people. Head gymnastics coaches of countries like Russia, Romania, USA, Belarus and others should buy this book. It incorporates knowledge from many sources and with a special detail you cannot find elsewhere.
We went on to visit coach's facility. When we entered, his athletes, from far away noticed us entering the gym. They ran quickly towards us, standing in a line, receiving us with honor. I could see right away, this was a man who knows his job. His athletes have nothing but the highest respect towards him.
The boys were amazingly buffed and strong. Even though not even one of them was above the age of 15, they looked strong and muscular, able to support the heavy duty training of high end gymnastics. Injuries are very rare here. Coach's physical preparation creates bullet proof athletes, and he places high importance on this aspect in the training process.
I was then taken through the complete warm up the coach uses with his athletes. It is amazing, and full of thinking and detail. The warm up alone is priceless, and will be detailed in one of coach's future books.
They went through a couple of stages: shoulders, wrists, ankles, legs and hips, elbows, knees and back. Everything is covered and active flexibility is emphasized where possible, and it is possible in every joint.
We went on to some floor work. His athletes are impressive, working through the progression. I also saw some high bar and pommel work.
We went into the rings. His athletes are amazingly gifted in this area, as expected. I saw some impressive feats of strength, and not by one or two exceptional athletes, but by all of them.
I then got a taste of the 'power levers', Coach Sommer's invention that allows you to work any rings straight arm work gradually and safely. Let me tell you, this thing is amazing. You do not feel any stress on the elbow; there is no skin tears like when working with the straps and you are able to concentrate on the prime movers and do quality work. I can't wait to get a hold of my own pair of the 'power levers'. They are an amazing invention.
After finishing the workout, we went to eat, and again, the best food on the menu was ordered for me, and paying was not an option. I ate a good Salmon on the grill with some broccoli and we went on to 'Trader Joes', since Adela insisted I should take some snacks for my trip. They spoiled me with a full jar of good organic coffee, beef jerky and organic almonds. Back home we got into another training related conversation. The knowledge shared by coach was priceless. Coach Sommer and his wife Adela were staying up late because of me, since I was waiting for my flight really early the next day. I was willing to let them sleep and go by myself to the airport, but they wouldn't hear of it. Coach made sure a shuttle came and took me to the airport. He did not let me pay the fee for the shuttle, and even tipped the driver in advance. I gave Coach Sommer a hug and said to good bye, this is the first time I've met coach in person, but after only one day together, he made me feel part of his family.
Thank you coach. It was an honor to be received in your home.

Some random clips from the beach in Israel, and in the LA, training:



video video video video video video video video video

7 comments:

Chiquita said...

U getting really great experience!
good trip! :)

Mark said...

Ido,

Awesome post. Found your blog through the gymnastic bodies forum. I can't believe you have a copy of Coach Sommer's book! What's it like?

Wilma said...

You write very well.

Stylecoach said...

Great experience. And you have a potential on what you are doing. Continue and keep enjoying it and you will be a great and the best athlete someday.

Boris Ostojić said...

Hi Ido,
Even though I like all of your previous posts, this one is something special. I've heard only the best about Coach Sommer but never about his private life. Once again he proves how great he really is.

p.s. I've read some of your posts on GB forum and now I'm on a mission to read everything you ever wrote on blog. You are a fountain of knowledge and big inspiration. Thanks Ido, keep up great work!

Best,
Boris

Narayana said...

I have been look at Coach Sommers' site and there seems to be great respect for his knowledge among his students. To also hear he is a generous and kind man is great. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

Blues said...

Holy shit that coach is fucking awesome