Max Whitlock wants to get us all doing gymnastics. Together with his wife Leah, Whitlock has created Max Whitlock Gymnastics, a programme for children aged between four and 11 that the husband and wife team hope will inspire kids to take up the sport.
The plan is to have it up and running in 32 different leisure centres by the end of the year. But today, Whitlock has a different student. Sure, he can get children to find the fun in gymnastics, but can he get an inflexible man to do the same? We sent our Digital Writer, Daniel Davies, to train with Whitlock at the Everyone Active Moberly Sports Centre to find out.
But looking past our writer, is it ever easy for any adult to take up a sport that requires supreme flexibility, which is usually knocked out of us from sitting at desks all day and benching beyond our limits?
“Obviously, some of the exercises that I’ve shown you today are advanced ones that are really difficult, but there are more basic ones that you can do anywhere,” says Whitlock. “The great thing about gymnastics is that it constantly teaches your body to be more mobile and agile, it doesn’t matter what age you are. It can be so helpful for youngsters to form that foundation, but also helpful for any age, whether you’re 30 or 40-years-old. To get involved in gymnastics is unbelievable, and you can reap so many benefits.”
Although, Whitlock is Great Britain’s most successful ever gymnast, winning two individual golds at the 2016 Olympics, 2018 hasn’t exactly been going to plan. Twice this year, Whitlock has faltered at major tournaments, first at the Commonwealth Games and then again at the European Championships. But his confidence certainly hasn’t faltered, and winning a silver medal at the World Gymnastics Championships in Doha has left Whitlock on track to achieve more Olympic success at Tokyo 2020.
But don’t for a minute think that Whitlock is travelling from competition to competition with the same routines, he’s constantly learning, developing and evolving. To do that he works on the same things he showed MH, but he also picks up new skills from everyone and everywhere, even YouTube.
“Airflare is a skill that I do on floor at the moment. It’s a breakdancing move that I was really proud of learning. It took me four months to learn by watching YouTube videos from breakdancers and how they do it and tips that they were saying,” says Whitlock.
“My dream is to get that skill, the Airflare, on the pummel horse, for it to be named the Whitlock and to have my name in the Code of Points, which is the gymnastics skills book. Once it’s in there it’s in there forever. It would be an absolute dream and a mission of mine to one day look back and have young kids trying the Whitlock. That’d be quite a proud feeling.”
If Whitlock isn’t afraid of learning new skills, then you shouldn’t be either. Why not start with Whitlock’s own warm-up workout?
The Whitlock workout
Spend thirty seconds on each exercise – the warm-up lasts a total of three minutes. Check out the video for examples of how to do the six exercises.
30 second reps, no rest
- Tension bridge
- Arch to dish
- Shoulder presses
- Jump half-turn to stick
- Roll back, stand up