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I started doing gymnastics in late-2009, after switching to that from a brief flirtation with parkour. The problem is, I moved so much between 2009 and 2013 (from California to Illinois in 2010, then to Pennsylvania in 2012, then to Queens, New York 6 months later, and finally to New Jersey in mid-2013. Every time I moved I had to find a new gym and figure out the schedule and how to get there.

In Illinois, I was pretty sure the closest gym was nearly 3 hours away in Chicago, so I tried to drive up there at least one Saturday per month to practice, but it was pretty impractical. Eventually I found one closer but it was almost time to move again by that point. So for the first 3.5 years it was nearly impossible for me to get consistent practice in. On top of that, the gyms I went to were all "open gyms", with only very minimal guidance from instructors so I was basically just teaching myself.

Well I'm pleased to announce that now that I've settled down, the past year (starting in mid-2013) I've actually been going pretty regularly, almost every week, and I'm finally starting to make some progress. Even more important than the regularity is that the gym I go to now has actual instructors that teach an actual adult class. I've realized now that my form was so bad I had very little chance of doing anything non-trivial until I got the proper training and feedback I needed to improve my body position.

There's a beginner class, an intermediate class, and an advanced class, and I've just recently decided to start attending the intermediate class rather than the beginner, even though I'm still kind of on the border. I'm generally one of the best when I go to the beginner, but one of the worst when I go to the intermediate--I get different things out of each when I go.

Also, now that I own a house with an actual lawn, I can practice in the spring and summer in the backyard on the weekends. It's more difficult because the grass isn't as springy as a gymnastics floor, but I've found that if I can do something on the grass then it means I have *really* got it down.

Recently I took some videos of me doing a few things. The ones that came out the best were my front-to-back cartwheel and front handspring. However, when I was editing the videos I was struck by an interesting thought about the physics of gymnastics. When you run the video in reverse, the cartwheel changes chirality from right-handed to left-handed. But when you run the handspring in reverse, it changes from a front handspring to a back handspring. (By the way, the term "front-to-back" cartwheel just means that you start facing forward and end up facing backwards, but in between while you're rotating the body twists around--as oppose to a regular cartwheel where you just start out facing to the side and don't twist as you rotate. Either one demonstrates the change in chirality, but the front-to-back version is a bit more fun to do and watch.)

Anyway, there are some really neat parallels between this and particle physics which I hadn't fully realized before. So I want to post the videos and then explain how gymnastics can be used to illustrate the concept of "discrete spacetime symmetries" in particle physics. I have it in a couple formats, including animated gif, but the gif version loads so slowly in a web browser that I need to cut down the size or something before posting it--or maybe I'll give up on that and just upload a video to Youtube instead. Still figuring out what the best way is to do it--but soon!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 28th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
Oooh! Ooooh! I'm excited to see this! Advanced physics of any sort is a subject that I have long wanted to understand better (and, lacking the requisite math, analogies will help greatly I think!)
May. 29th, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
Cool... got too busy this week to write it, but hopefully some time next week I will!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 7th, 2014 06:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it can be scary... sorry to hear about your back that sucks :-( A year ago I sprained my ankle on a landing, and was on crutches for a week. Took me a few months before I could return to doing gymnastics and during that time I considered quitting for good but just couldn't do it... I've never found a way of exercising that feels more right to me.

When your back is in up to full strength again, you should come tumble with us at Chelsea Piers!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 8th, 2014 06:57 pm (UTC)
Ah, didn't realize you had moved back to the bay area. I'm envious! We'd like to move back there eventually too, but are pretty tied to New York for the time being.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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