At the Chicago RKC-II earlier this year, one of the participants caught my eye when she did a move called “skin-the-cat”. She was showing us a bit of what she learned at the PCC.
She was doing some really athletic moves, and I love to climb and do pull-ups, so I decided I have to attend the PCC to learn how to incorporate more calisthenics into my training and into my classes.
I registered for the Milwaukee PCC Workshop this past November and gave myself a couple months to prepare. I was doing a lot of mobility work so I’d be able to do as much as possible at the certification event.
I practiced the Century Test weekly. And then I did what any woman would do. Reach out to another woman, or two, for advice.
I contacted Senior PCC Instructor Adrienne Harvey to look at my Century Test technique. I sent her some video of me practicing and she coached me on my knee pushup technique (I don’t usually do knee pushups) and she helped me refine my Australian pull-ups, which were also new to me.
PCC Instructor Grace Menendez gave me some mobility drills to do for bridging and elbow levers. Her tip to practice bridging on the stability ball daily really helped improve my spinal mobility.
As I began to experiment with other moves, I realized, and Adrienne confirmed this, that many calisthenics moves can take a long time to achieve!
I admit that I was a little nervous. I could only do handstands and headstands against the wall. I discovered that I had limited internal shoulder rotation when I began trying elbow levers on my own—that usually resulted in face plants! I wasn’t able to do a full bridge even though I was working on it with spinal mobility.
I referred to PCC Lead instructor Al Kavadlo’s books to prepare: Pushing the Limits, Stretching Your Boundaries, and Raising the Bar. I set aside two days a week to train calisthenics. It wasn’t easy to put my kettlebells down.
Interestingly, on my kettlebell training days, I was moving with more ease than I remembered. Could it be the calisthenics? (Two weeks after the PCC, I had a PR on the two-arm swing—56kg for five reps—I credit the addition of calisthenics training.)
As a gym owner, and kettlebell coach, my job is to identify weaknesses in my students and help them get stronger. We are only as strong as our weakest link.
I had to do the same with my own body. Things weren’t happening as fast as I wanted them to. It was humbling, but I continued to move, stretch and practice.
Once I arrived in Milwaukee, it all came together.
Achieving personal bests was something we all experienced, daily, for three days. It was pretty unbelievable. It will sound corny, but the PCC environment was, well, magical. With patient practice, and varied cues from five coaches, amazing things were happening for all of us–yes, even those new to calisthenics.
If we couldn’t achieve a move right then, there was always a regression to set us on a clear path.
Some of us were just beginning our calisthenics journey, while others were doing very advanced moves under the careful guidance of the PCC instructors. Even the instructors were achieving PRs as they demonstrated for us!
It didn’t matter where we were on our calisthenics journey; the PCC environment was both safe and exhilarating. We reveled in the advancements of others almost more than our own. The instructors and PCC candidates were inspiring and patient and I am proud to call them my friends and mentors.
I learned a new way of thinking about fitness … and it has a lot to do with more freedom in my training–thanks to Al and Danny, John Du Cane, the PCC instructor team and my peers at the PCC.
I am having a blast incorporating calisthenics into my small classes with what seems like a million variations of squats, pushups, pull-ups and inversions… along with consistent mobility work.
I continue to practice calisthenics on my own. Since I’ve been home, I can now skin-the-cat! I am doing handstands and headstands away from the wall. I am doing pushups with the Neuro-Grips, frog stands, one-handed chin-ups, full bridges and more.
So if the PCC looks a little advanced for you right now, some preparation doesn’t hurt, but don’t hesitate to sign up. It is a mind-blowing experience that will push your limits, stretch your boundaries and raise the bar.