I love being able to learn from different people.
I’ve been blessed with great teachers throughout my life and one in particular, Burton Richardson, taught me that wisdom comes in all shapes and sizes. He always encouraged me to take classes or lessons from many different people to learn about different ideas.
I’ll never understand people that can stop being a student in one way or another. Many people seem to fall prey to the “guru” mentality. Especially in the fitness and martial arts worlds, so-called masters end up walled away in a universe of their own making. They shut down all possibility of learning from others, never being open to any challenges to their own “special knowledge”.
I know this happens because I’ve seen it. It’s very sad, but very true.
Luckily, I’m not even close to being a master, so I’m free to learn from anyone I like and not be worried about how it will make me look. It’s a nice freedom to have.
My Steve Atlas Review (Short Version)
Steve Atlas is awesome.
That’s pretty much my review….
Oh, I guess I should write more! It’d be a pretty short post, though entirely accurate.
A couple of months ago, I attended Steve’s Body Practice and hand balancing workshop.
I had just received his DVD set a couple of weeks prior so I didn’t have a ton of practice with it. I was a bit worried about making it through the training, especially since I noticed that on the Facebook group, the people attending seemed to be all incredibly talented fitness competitors.
I convinced my brother to go with me and he was just as wary. When he checked out everything online, he said, “Umm, will we even be able to do this?” My response? “Probably not, but oh well. It’s too late now!”
But I couldn’t pass it up, especially since it was just twenty minutes away. So I got my kids squared away with a sitter and signed up.
What is the Body Practice?
Steve has a wonderfully diverse background in various martial arts, weightlifting, bodybuilding, and yoga, and created a system which seems to synthesize this history with unique exercises and some nice twists on familiar patterns.
In the DVD set, he includes a series of interviews describing his history, the goals of the program, and other insights into the system. This was a great addition to the exercise instruction, as it gives you a glimpse into the man’s ideas and purpose for creating this practice.
The series of movements are separated into three levels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced), each differing in intensity and complexity.
I’ve been involved with physical training, martial arts, and body work for a long time, and I was impressed with what Steve has put together. He’s included variety and progression in a systematic manner with a solid exploration of strength, balance, and flexibility.
The DVDs are of the follow-along variety. Although we don’t incorporate this type of training into our programs at GMB (you can read more about our reasons for that here), there are people who prefer that type of instruction, particularly on days when they aren’t particularly revved up to train.
Divided into a half hour of the Body Practice exercises, and a half hour of yoga postures, it’s a well designed whole body exercise routine.
The Body Practice Workshop
So with just a few sessions of the practice under my belt, I headed to the workshop with a bit of trepidation.
I shouldn’t have been worried, though, since Steve was insistent that we all modulate the practice to whatever level we were comfortable with.
I liked that the routine he took us through was a mashup of the levels in his set, along with exercises not shown in the DVDs. And yes, all the participants were in incredible shape, though it was interesting that some movements were easier to perform than others, and this varied from trainee to trainee.
I was probably the oldest person there, with the exception of one other gentleman who was older and had trained with Steve previously. He was awesome to train with and had an infectiously great attitude. It’s a great testament to the system that it provided a great workout to both twenty-somethings and old fogeys like me.
Steve is an excellent instructor, with great cueing for exercise form, especially for novel movements. He spoke just enough to provide instruction and not so much that it impeded the training.
I’m generally not the biggest fan of group exercise classes, but this was a great session, and I could definitely see myself going regularly.
After a short break, Steve started the handstand portion of the day. I was really looking forward to this after seeing his training videos. The man has unbelievable strength and coordination.
I was very surprised to learn that he had not been a gymnast in his youth, and actually just started training in handbalancing three years ago!
To me this was very impressive and spoke to his dedication and tenacity.
I had dabbled in handbalancing before but only for a few months before I fell out of it - apologies for the bad pun! But I was looking forward to training with it again with a more serious intent.
Steve began by emphasizing the importance of preparing your wrists, elbows, and shoulders for handstand work, and shared his warmup sequence. There were a couple of variations of wrist work and shoulder opening that I had not seen before, and I appreciated the thorough preparatory exercises.
He then led us through the fundamentals of proper hand and body positioning for the handstand. It’s very hard to overstate the importance of starting the right way in this type of training as errors tend to compound and turn into bad habits.
Finding someone that can perform and teach handstands well is essential if you want to learn how to achieve a high level with this skill.
Steve taught a variety of wall drills as well as freestanding training, and you could tell he was working hard to give us as much information to take home as we could handle.
Though emphasizing the importance of regular and intensive training for the handstand, he also spoke of the need to progress slowly to avoid injury. This balance (another bad pun!) in training jives well with all of us at GMB, as we prize consistent training over surges of intense work followed by lulls of none at all.
We’re in this for the long haul.
My Highest Recommendation
This five-hour workshop was tiring but also invigorating, and it rejuvenated my interest in handstand work.
Steve has a great system and is a wonderful teacher. He’s got my highest recommendation and I encourage everyone interested in strength and fitness to get his materials and attend a workshop. I’m not able to attend his next immersion in Spokane, WA, but I hope to attend next year.
More than just his physical ability, which is amazing, I admire Steve’s determination and willingness to seek out the people who could help him achieve his goals. I’m also glad to have met a man of accomplishment who isn’t afraid to be a student. It’s one thing to have the desire and another thing to act and persist.
Our Ultimate Guide to Learning Handstands is a great way to learn the basics before moving on to more advanced handbalancing skills, and you should definitely check out what Steve is doing with the Body Practice too.
Images by h.koppdelaney