Episode 213 – Guest: Coach Christopher Sommer

Performance Menu: Journal of Health & Athletic Excellence

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Featuring guest Coach Christopher Sommer of Gymnastic Bodies.

Gymnastic Bodies forums: https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/forum/

Gymnastic Bodies on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GymnasticBodies

Gymnastic Bodies on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GymnasticBodies




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  1. Martin says

    Great interview, great insights into flexibility and strength.

    I read the article by coach Sommer some 10 years ago, I discovered it through climbing (my main sport) and ever since it has been the staple of my strength training.

    Another great book and program is Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low.

    By the way, since I never had anything to do with cross fit, when I heard about kipping pull-ups and saw some videos on youtube, I immediately thought it’s a very dangerous joke. In climbing, your goal is a static one-arm pull :-)

  2. Darcie says

    This was really interesting to listen to, but it sounded like it was geared exclusively towards men. The web site intro video is also 100% men. How does this stuff apply to women?

    • K says

      There are quite a few women using the GB program as well, as you can see if you join the forum – and I do believe there is a woman being used as an example of some impressive developments made employing Coach Sommers training on the website. So it absolutely applies, welcome to the forum!

  3. Daniel says

    Darcie – The program is well suited for women as well. There are many on the forum and who come to the seminars who are progressing very well. If you look at the facebook page you can find pictures of Carmen Amara who is very close to completing manna and is further in the program than a lot of men.

    The intro video covers his athletes which he worked with personally. All of these guys are his gymnasts.

  4. Tanya Diane says

    Not sure if you can compare S. Low vs Coach Sommer. Just the credentials and experience alone is vastly different. S. Low was active in the GB forum asking questions before we went on his own to write his e-book then disappeared. Seems like there are a few people out there copying coach’s material. I guess that is why coach’s information has real pictures of his athlete and S. Low has drawings. My 2cents!

    • Joe says

      You don’t need to be an Olympic level coach to teach beginners, just like you don’t need to be a PHD to teach first year students in University. As long as someone is better than you, in some aspect, and they are a good teacher, you can learn from them.

    • jc says

      Coach, thanks for dropping some serious knowledge.

      I was about to buy the GB Starter Pack, but before spending the money (unfortunately, I am a poor grad student at the moment), I wanted to know what type of equipment is needed to go through the courses. I live in a tiny apartment so I can’t build a garage gym. I do have access to my campus gym though.

      Anyway, is there a link you can point me to with the required equipment? Thanks; I appreciate your time!

      • says

        Check out the GymnasticBodies.com/forum for equipment specifications; however I think that you will find that they are minimal. Especially initially.

        Yours in Fitness,
        Coach Sommer

  5. Will says

    The most eye-opening piece of this has to be coming to the realization of how so many in our “community” are broken or are destroying their bodies. The focus on more volume, more intensity leaves so many perpetually sore or worse.

    I for one am looking for the answer to what is my long term goal, now that I’m over 30. I just want to find a stasis where strength meets mobility and I still have the energy to play with my kids without nursing a tender shoulder, etc.

    What’s the point of pushing to a big squat if you feel like crap when your son wants to play tag with you?

  6. says

    Just the program I have been looking for. Been in “fitness” for years now and was even a crossfitter till i got hurt and I am so glad to come across this podcast and now coach’s foundation program. I’ve always known that pound for pound gymnast or the strongest athletes and have been wanting to train like one for years.At 6’7″ and roughly 250lbs i thought this was just not an option but I absolutely feel that it is NOW.

    Coach, thanks for your honest and no BS attitude and frankness on the podcast. Consider me a lifelong pupil and customer. I’ll be purchasing foundation one very soon, if not today!!

    • says

      This is exactly the attitude I love to coach.

      At 6’7″ you are now our tallest student, eclipsing Erik at 6’6″. But you will have your work cut out you to match his accomplishments of front lever, V sit and press handstands! :)

  7. Mark says

    I’d really like to see more sports/fitness shows like this (also, for example Dave Werner).

    I enjoyed Sommer’s gymnastics perspective and will view gymnastics/rings (within the CrossFit context) with additional respect. The general negativity from Sommer’s was also interesting – given his level and accomplishments, the right to an annoyed presentation has certainly been earned, though it is a contrast to fitness folks with a more optimistic disposition.

    • says

      I make no bones about it; much of the b.s. that is pawned off as gymnastics strength training in the fitness industry ticks me off. For decades now I have had the opportunity to work with and coach the finest athletes in the world. I see no reason to begin compromising my standards now.

      • Michael says

        Couch, I’ve recently started gb foundations training and handstands one. The quality of your program is unparalleled by anything else I’ve seen. Seeing the slop some of the people in the fitness community (and might I add street workout) puts out for GST makes me completely understand your negativity towards them. Some of these guys are getting upwards of 10 millions views per video and producing workout routines that will ultimately get people injured. If your optimistic about the fitness industry your not looking closely enough

        • Joe says

          Just like to add that (calisthenic) street workouts are to gymnastics are what like hip-hop is to ballet. A ballet dancer will not consider it dancing. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a legitimate form of movement and expression. Neither should be attempted at a high level without sufficient preparation.

  8. Bargey says

    I just bought the starter pack and I am delighted with it.
    When one looks at the foundation exercises, they appear very easy on paper but they are indeed very challenging; I’m particularly enjoying the “deck squats”.

    How would you structure the training if I was doing regular barbell strength work, do it on the same day or alternate?

    Nice one coach!

    • says

      I always believe in doing first things first. As such in your situation I would focus on building a GST foundation first and relegate my barbell work to a secondary role to be fitted in after my primary GST training was completed.

  9. Craig Tankersley, DC says

    Hey Coach
    Great podcast, can these foundation classes be tackled by the older crowd? I’m 52 and I’ve been doing Crossfit at my own pace so I don’t blow out anymore joints and think this is what’s needed more then anything, stability (strength) and mobility. Was more interested in the mobility aspect but didn’t see any on line courses. Any RX would be great. I’m in mediocre shape for the most part with poor lower body strength (legs of twigs) with recent ACL repair from wake boarding. Can pull off 10-15 dead hang pull ups, 30 or so push ups, working on L-sit, can hold tuck but forget leg extension. No where close to doing a pistol. Any help would be great.

    • says

      – At 52 you are not even close to my oldest student. That would go to Frits who is currently 72 I believe and is currently training iron crosses! :)

      – You are however spot on regarding your other comment; for older students mobility is indeed the main priority. All else arises from there. The Foundation and Handstand courses will have all of the mobility and the accompanying programming you need to get you started.

  10. 'Mash says

    Robb, really one of your best podcasts. Coach Sommer, really very inspiring thank you. You two gave me a lot to think about.

  11. Jesse says

    Thank you Robb and Coach Sommer for this fantastic podcast. I’m about a year late on this, but I took a lot from the way Coach Sommer explained GST. I’ve been looking at GB for a while now, and debating the price. I still haven’t pulled the trigger, but this podcast is pushing me in that direction.

    I have been into CrossFit since 09 and the “gymnastics” portion has always been my favorite. I’m finally realizing that what they’re doing can’t really be considered gymnastics, but I do have to thank CrossFit for at least making the introduction for me. I’m looking forward to pouring myself into gymnastics training, even if it’s going to be an incredibly long and somewhat frustrating road ahead.

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