Bernard and I were talking the other day about the jump rope. With my struggles jumping rope as a child. My curiosity was around how he knew I could pick up the jump rope? What was telling him with some persistence the movement would work out? He responded by telling me that he didn’t know. This sent off bells of confusion inside my mind. It didn’t seem logical for him to give me something to try without any idea. Being asked to jump rope could have caused too much frustration inside. Leading me to reflect on childhood angst and feel like improvement wasn’t happening. Inside my thought process, he would have gained some idea that jumping rope could be done. Many of his movement patterns seem to work on a progression, moving from one exercise, onto a more complex movement. I was curious about the progression leading up to bringing out the jump rope. Concepts that can be shared with other people. If your anything like me, you marvel at the physical ability of others. Thinking they were most likely able to roll out of bed and pull off the feat you’re watching. Through my training with Bernard, I begin to understand that isn’t true. Maybe they began at a higher physical level. But, in order to reach that awe-inspiring movement. They most likely worked through hours of physical progressions.
Giving the conversation a beat to collect itself. Bernard took me back in time to find the answer. In essence, where did our process toward the jump rope begin. Bernard was working me through movements to help cerebral palsy improvement. Without a clear understanding of where those progressions might lead. When I get one movement to the point where its challenge has been lost. Bernard becomes challenged to find another exercise. Attempting to continue working whatever concepts the previous motion was using to create challenge. I enjoy gaining an understand for the simplest place a complex movement began. Believing no matter, the degree of cerebral palsy, there is always somewhere to start. Taking on those infant steps can lead to things never thought to be possibilities. When he started talking about the first movement leading to the jump rope. I was thinking back the tedious emotions being felt. He had broken things down so far, it felt wasteful of our time together. The discussion helped me understand how much I was wrong about that perception. The blocks were being placed one at a time to help my disability. To begin answering my question he posed a question. Bernard asked if I remember working over the line in the floor? As I nodded affirmation, he started explaining the roots of jumping rope.
Bernard began the process by placing a piece of tape on the floor. This action occurring more than a year before the jump rope appeared. My first challenge was to step over the tape, moving sideways to my left. Then, moving back across the tape to my right. Getting both feet on one side before moving back across. He had me go through the same progression moving forward and back over the tape. Moving both feet across forward before beginning the journey backward. Having my feet end side by side at the origination point. Of all these first movements, moving backward was the most challenging. As memory reminds me, the scariest falls of childhood happened traveling backward. Even today, it feels like back is my most susceptible loss of balance. But, it felt with the first movements, things were pretty smooth. It wasn’t long before those steps over the line of tape became jumps. This was when the relatively simple movements got more interesting. The jumping from one side to the other was a part of my toolbox. Having skied for most of my life. The motion of moving side to side was familiar. Though I struggled to learn how to jump any distance. The most challenging part was jumping over the line forward and back. I had never done anything requiring me to jump backward. Because moving backward has always been a balance struggle. Learning the backward movement took the most work to understand. Over the weeks of practice, I was able to stumble my way to achieving all four movements on balance. The near misses often having to do with the challenge of engaging my core. Soon, it was on to the next piece of the puzzle.
Bernard was jogging my memory with the line jumping. Moving on to talk about how arm movement factored into the equation. After the success of jumping over the tapped line on the floor. With the occasional stumbles jumping backward. Bernard sought to add a new element to the jumping. He wanted me to work on coordinating arm movements with the jump. Attempting for them to happen at the same time. As I made a jump across the tape. Bernard wanted me to work on swinging my arms forward and up, with them bent at the elbows. Providing each jump some added momentum. I had been holding my arms bent up along my sides. It was the comfortable way cerebral palsy had dictated. However, in order to use my hands while jumping, they needed to be steady away from the body. It never occurred to me at the time, Bernard was preparing me for more steps. Once he found I could jump over the tape maintaining balance. He added the arm movement, finding it could be coordinated with the jump. Our next steps would be to continue improving the coordinated movement. Jumping over the line with the timing of moving the arms. Soon, the exercise was improved enough to pull out the jump rope.
The conversations with Bernard working us backward are fascinating. Learning where I have come from to achieve the movements today. I believe a workout can begin at the level of anyone. No matter whether typically developed or challenged by a disability. Any kind of exercise can improve many aspects of life. Reflecting back on what might be a simple movement for some. Jumping over a tapped line on the floor. Turns out not to be so easy for others. But, accepting challenges that might feel silly in the moment, often lead to exceptional places. This was where jumping rope had to begin. While others might be able to simply pick up the rope and get started. My journey began by working a line on the floor. Moving to only being able to accomplish one jump at a time with the rope. Then, being able to string five jumps together and ten. Overcoming something making me feel isolated as a kid. Due to an inability to jump rope on the playground. The path shows how being diligent can open possibilities seemingly lost. Achieving the balance to jump rope, when it wasn’t there prior. Leaves me feeling hopeful of other physical task within reach. As we continue the journey of finding cerebral palsy improvements.