“The first step is you have to say that you can.” Will Smith
Have you ever seen guys (or girls) doing freestanding handstands or handstands against a wall and wondered how do they do that? Or wondered about another skill someone has, and you thought “Will I be able to do that?”.
I did exactly that early last year, 2017 after a shoulder injury that dragged on for over three months and didn’t allow me to use any arm/shoulder/upper-body weights-exercises at all. That’s a real challenge for someone who is used to exercise five to six times a week. I wondered “will I be able to do that?” … “How do I start a handstand practice routine and do progress over time?”. So off I went, using our beloved Google-Search engine, ending up in various odd corners of the internet from Vimeo, to youtube, other video websites and digging out different manuals from the “experts” around the globe.
There were different logical approaches; some were just ridiculous “you just do handstands” others made more sense, some guys split it into small steps and progression, e.g. building up strength, mobility and balance in the wrists first, then practising what is often called a Yoga Frog stand. Others demoed and explained various practise drills and options. E.g. a wall facing version and a version having your back to the wall, some suggested to start doing pike-push-ups (easier version with your feet on your couch or on the floor) etc. etc..
There were too numerous variations to list them all. So off I went and started my self-created little routine and programme, as every personal fitness trainer and coach would do. After two weeks (two to three practise sessions) I was able to kick reasonably comfortably up against a wall and get into a (what I would now call a “pseudo-handstand” or what others call a “Banana-handstand.”. The “Banana-handstand” is a position where your whole back is excessively arched during the handstand – a no-no (that’s what my Pilates & Core Strength Brain told me).
I decided then that I would demo my “Banana-handstand” in one of my exercises and fitness classes and offered participants to coach them in the various sub-skills. They just looked at me in disbelieve, I couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t even consider trying it. Some of the guys were, without doubt, strong and mobile enough, to give it a go. I tried to do a bit more convincing and showed different simple starter drills …. they just didn’t believe or wouldn’t contemplate that they could do it.
It meant they were not giving themselves permission to even try the easy starter hand-stand drills …. then it dawned on me … I have to enable them to change their mindset first, and that is were Will Smith with his quote comes in “The first step is you have to say that you can.”.
You might replace the word “say” with “believe” to “The first step is you have to believe that you can.”. If you believe you can, you are at least more likely to try something new or different, but without a convincing “Yes, I can” or “Yes, I will be able” or “Yes, I am going to” the individual reduced the chances of success dramatically.
That is one of the main reason’s why I meet new personal coaching and training clients initially for a relaxed chat and see what do they believe about themselves and where do they see themselves, where would it help them to alter or even change their thinking and beliefs.
“What if” questions are really good to challenge your beliefs and belief systems. “What if you could easily and in a fun way drop a few pound or stone?” “What if exercising would be fun and exciting?” – “What if eating healthy and nutritious would be easy and gave you lots and lots of energy so you could spend quality time with your partner, friend, spouse, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or other people that are close to you?”
So – which “What if ….. questions” could or should you ask yourself:
Here few that you might ponder about:
1. What if I would get up a bit earlier every morning to have a few minutes of me-time (even 5-10mins) before the rest of household gets up? (You might write in your diary, have a relaxed cup of tea, jot down three successes or positive things that happened the day before etc.).
2. What if I would plan my day the night before? (most people find this extremely useful, as it allows them to switch mentally off before going to bed and in a lot of cases enables them to get a better night sleep).
3. What if I would schedule two or three regular 20-30min activity or exercise session into my weekly diary? (Having fixed, regular activity sessions on the same day and time makes it easier for your mind to get into a healthy routine – consider these sessions as important as an appointment with a doctor, your boss or manager, someone you value lots.
4. What if you would do at least one activity or one action (even just for 5-10 minutes) every day that excites you? (Doing positively exciting things generally boosts your energy and makes you feel good).
5. What other “What if …. questions can you come up with?” and ask you and others from time to time … let’s go “What if-ing ….!”
After a detour to Will Smith’s quote, beliefs and “What if – Questions” back to my Handstand story. In the meantime I’m able to hold a “straight” wall-handstand or tree-handstand 🙂 for a good while, can do a few mini-handstand push-ups and occasionally can hold a full freestanding handstand for a few seconds, fair enough for someone in his late 40s, isn’t it?
Action Items for you:
 Let’s get a blank piece of paper out and answer at least three of above “What if – Questions”.
 Plus think about Will Smith’s quote again “The first step is you have to say that you can.” (or my variation “The first step is you have to believe that you can.”) and ask yourself “What belief about myself might it be worthwhile reconsidering or changing?”
Yours in Health, Fitness & Well Being
_ Martin (Personal Fitness & Health Trainer, Nutrition Coach)