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Old 11-18-2008, 09:56 PM   #1
Blair Robert Lowe
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Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

So, after many years in the making and being recently announced last year with the advent of thegymnasticbodies website, and the announcement of the book being finished by the publishers and sent off to the mailing house--- it's here!

After a long, and I do mean long day of work on Monday; I came home to notice there was a package for me on the table. Opening it turned out to be " Building the Gymnastics Body " and the 5 DVD's that go with it in tandem. After cleaning up, I immediately set out to perusing it and going over it while watching " Heroes " to finish about 10:30PM.

Just in case you want to take a look at the Table of Contents, it can be seen here:

http://gymnasticbodies.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1026&highlight=table+contentPLEASE ENSURE YOU ANNOTATE ALL LINKS WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFE.

Starting with the book goes over the story of how Coach Sommer came to his methods currently from his time as a competitive athlete and his retirement workout methods. Next up a chapter on the necessary tools to train and basic terminology with pictures of all.

For instance there was a progression with the L sit I was not familiar with which is an important go between especially towards working toward a Vsit. Another further explanation of proper voluming and sets which had only been postulated based on prior articles and some of Coach Sommer's posts on his board. A thorough guide on pushups and dips with about half of the variations being intermediary important ones I was unaware of in mastery both of these movements.

Another instance comes to my mind that I had done several of his movements before, when I was considerably stronger in better shape years back but with progressions toward each movement rather than just trying it which worked for me because I was strong enough at the time.

Some epiphanies came about when I trained similar movements, just playing with them which were further explained as to why they were beneficial movements other than my tinkering. While I remember my trial and error, I didn't really have any data of confirming what I thought as to my conclusions of the variations I came up with. Nice to see them again.

All in all, while I was familiar with some of the content, it did well to fill various gaps as well as into programming and why and what haltered my own progress ( besides proper recovery protocols ). Right after the beginning it also went into what the other 4 books are coming to finish the 5 volume set. One is on advanced ring training elements, joint preparation and active flexibility, mastering the handstand, and advanced dynamic strength work programming(?) and drills.

I'll be going over the DVD's probably tomorrow morning as I am feeling the sleep fairy coming on hard as I finish this write-up.

Last edited by Lynne Pitts : 11-30-2008 at 12:07 AM. Reason: unqualified links
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Old 11-18-2008, 10:39 PM   #2
Stephen Flamm
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

Definitely interested in your (and anyone else's) thoughts on the DVDs, as I am deciding which package to order.
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:10 AM   #3
Michael Terry
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

Is there any information on when his Power Levers will come out? I thought they'd come out when the book did.
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Old 11-19-2008, 02:55 PM   #4
Tate Rivera
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

So would you recommend this for the average CrossFitter? Someone who just want to get good at the basics and maybe has a little interest in learning a few new positions and holds? Would it be worth it, or is it mostly geared to the higher level things that most beginners wont get proficient at? Thanks for the help.
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Old 11-19-2008, 04:18 PM   #5
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

I haven't heard anything about the power levers.

While Advanced ring strength is probably beyond the scope of most fitness enthusiasts and crossfitters, " Building the gymnastics body " goes over a lot of basic gymnastic positions that would carry over to fitness enthusiasts and bodyweight exercise(manipulation). Handstand chronicles and joint preparation and active flexibility might also be some books that would still be of interest to the average crossfitter who of course reads and watches materials besides what their trainers tell them ( many crossfitters at affiliates could be lumped into this category ).

It's nice to have it in one guide like SS instead of piece-mealing it from all over youtube and drillsandskills.com and Coach Sommer's site and any others. I have a 30 year old book on gymnastics that is quite thorough but it is literally 270 pages of pictures with maybe 500 words throughout the whole book.

For me it fills a lot of gaps in the basics I thought I had a handle on. Especially with programming which I never have.

For me the book is enough when it comes to explaining things through pictures because I've done many of the exercises or variants of them or seen them on Coach Sommer's site.

However, if I wanted to show this to a group of athletes, be they gymnasts or in a crossfit gym, the videos would do this much easier. Especially since I could not do many myself or even manipulate with a spot some into them. If you aren't familiar with many of the movements, the videos would let you see the movement instead of just guess.

At one of the gyms I coached at, we would put on dvd's for the kids at breaktime to watch and I'm sure they would get a kick out of it.

I would reccomend it for the crossfitter who leans toward doing a lot of bodyweight stuff in his own training or sparetime. As well for a crossfit trainer looking for more challenging bodyweight exercises ( besides HPSU, MU, levers, and pistols which are pretty much the CF gymnastics base besides some other stuff ) and definitely for any gymnastics coach's of either women's and especially men's.
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:49 AM   #6
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

Well, I finished the DVD's last night. Pretty neat.

I really wished there was a function to play them all together in a row per each DVD. Manually selecting each is a bit more time consuming. It looks real pretty and I think it was authored on a Mac. I have half a mind to try to create some for myself with the functionality to loop them together, but I probably won't. They would be really good again for teaching the movements to a group. I wouldn't want to bother with the book for groups. It's fine for person to person. They also bridge the book to real life motion if you are unfamiliar with a lot of the content. This is why the book mainly fills the gaps in my knowledge base like it will with some of the other gymnastics coaches I know of or in the CF community ( or StevenLow and a few other of the ex gymnasts [ let it be known at my peak I was just a basic gymnast and it was through training, lectures, and materials I learned a lot more ]).

At one point, I thought, where are rope climbs? That is part of basic gymnastics strength training. Hopefully it's in the book on Dynamic Strength. While many home enthusiasts probably do not have a rope set up at home, it's commonplace at any gymnastics gym and getting there at many CF affiliates.

While it's still aimed at basic gymnastics strength, don't kid yourself. There are some leadups to insane strength like elevators on rings and this one that is just bizarre. You will grin at what Coach Sommer calls "curls." These curls aren't just for the girls.

There are a lot of progressions for things like Chest roll to HS and floor glute ham, I never thought of. However, I'm not the most creative person when it comes to conditioning. When I got into gymnastics, I literally learned from the compulsory book and that's what I did. That was it besides a 30 year old book of pictures about gymnastics. There was another for body flags which I ended up finding myself doing.

There were a lot of dip variations that were neat. Some are kind of insane. Beyond just a ring dip.

Crossfitters will probably be dismayed at Sommer's idea of a kipping MU. This is especially show on video. While my ring kip is pretty lame ( False grip, arch to hollow, pull and push to get up ) it's nothing like a typical CrossFit kipping MU.

There is an interesting tip toward the orientation of the shoulders in pullup and hanging leg lifts. I find it interesting for the latter because it was something I played around with Roger Harrell once. We just shrugged and figured do them regular and the other new way.

Umm, that caps it. I wish there was a way to just play them and loop them because it would be fun to just keep on a dvd player and tv in the gym.
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Old 11-26-2008, 08:45 PM   #7
Robert Laken
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

Is there any equipment, beyond rings, required to do the routines in the book?
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:33 PM   #8
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

A single rail or bar. For some stuff, a low single rail might be good, but those were pretty advanced for even gymnasts.

Nylon strapping and fractional weight plates for doing weighted leg lifts progressively.

Rings are not necessarily needed, but it's a good idea. A set of parallettes would be handy.

A set of dip bars could be useful like a power tower with pullup and dip bars. However, two chairs can work for dips if they are sturdy enough.

A chair could be very useful for horizontal body rows or putting your feet on while doing dips if you aren't strong enough for a good dip ( or bands ).
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:54 PM   #9
Brian Lawyer
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

Blair, Are you like coach Sommer's PR guy or what. I've seen like two or three post of you talking about the book on Crossfit and Catalyst athletics. Those are the only two forums I frequent regularly, who knows how many others your on.
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Old 11-29-2008, 12:51 PM   #10
James Davidson
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Re: Review of Coach Sommer's " Building the Gymnastics Body "

as a beginner crossfitter, and fitness enthusiast i would highly recommend the book and dvds if you dont train for a sport, and would like to train skills with WODs this book is very thorough with progressions to higher skills, one thing i do not like about this book is how it advertises the next books in the series over and over again, i was already anxious about waiting for this book to come out and then it advertises more books i would love from coach.

all in all very detailed descriptions with pictures to go along

I would rate it a 4/5
(not giving it a full 5 because of the constant advertising of the following books in the series)
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