As you might have guessed from my photos and posts, I am totally obsessed with everything there is to learn and know about handstands. During my quest of gathering as many repetitions, information and hours spent on my hands I have come across many wonderful practitioners and incredibly talented performers and teachers. This is the fourth issue of my ALL ABOUT HANDSTANDS Interview series, which I have started to share the many beautiful souls out there who dedicate their time on one or two hands instead of their feet.
I met Gayle twice in one year although we had never crossed paths before: First in Zürich at our FRC teacher training and at a Convention we both taught at. We instantly liked each other for obvious reasons and played around between classes. She's a lovable monkey with a hint of rebel that is much needed in this world. Let's find out more about Gayle and her handstand practice.
1. Tell me something about yourself: Who are you now, what did you do in the past and what are you passionate about?
I’m Gayle, 42 years young and my education background is in medicine. I have only been exploring Handbalance and bodyweight movement for 7 years. Because of the profound effect learning to handstand had on me, I am incredibly passionate about sharing everything that I have learnt so that others can find the joy in their own body, their movement and their life.
2. Your IG name is @inverted_g How much time do you spend in inversions per day?
My IG name fits me very well 😁 Around 1-2 hours each day playing upside down. I handstand every day whether it’s for training or for fun. I love it!
3. What is the craziest Inversion you can do & what's your favorite Handstand of all?
I’d say the craziest inversion has to be when I held a handstand while a motorbike stuntman was doing a super close circle round me - the amount of focus and trust we both had to have was exhilarating! Watch the video here.
My favourite handstands are always in nature because it’s often a challenge and I’m always fully at one with the earth - right here, right now. This one was on the top of Ben Aan at sunset. It was very difficult for me but I’m incredibly happy it happened.
4. At what age did you start training?
I used to play badminton at school. I never thought I was capable of the kind of gymnastic movements I used to watch in awe. I thought you’d have to start young and I never had any experience. Life took a new direction and, at the age of 35 I quit my job and decided to do something I’d always wanted to do. I saw a video online of a Press to Handstand and decided immediately, in that moment that I wanted to learn it. I specifically remember it like a lightning bolt and I had a mindset of ‘I’m all in, I’m going to learn this”. I’d never been able to handstand as a child and I always remember really wanting to.A few years and countless hours later I did, and it’s been the most incredible path that’s led me here ❤️
5. What would be your advice for women on how to get stronger?
Learn the basics and they will lead you to wherever you want to go and whatever you want to learn. Without the correct foundations you’ll get frustrated and probably hurt. It’s the best advice I was given but didn’t listen to until I couldn’t go any further in my training. I had to go right back to the start and this is now why I’m so passionate as a coach about all the tiny details that fit together to make a healthy happy body for life, for play and for skills.
6. Which are the 3 most important exercises - in general - you think everyone should do?
I prefer real world movement rather than specific exercises.
1. Being able to push yourself off the floor.
2. Pull yourself up and over a wall.
3. Sit comfortably in a Bodyweight squat.
7. Why do you train Handstands?
Ah for me it’s all about that moment when my whole body is having fun. Joyous conversations, singing and dancing. It’s my time out, my meditation, my play. It’s peaceful and it’s fun. It makes me feel like a superhero flying at 3000mph. To me it’s the best feeling in the world made sweeter because of all the hard work, attention to detail and passion and love that went into it.
Learning to handstand gave me a greater connection to my body, taught me patience and discipline in a new way and has a tremendous carryover to many other skills - in training and in life. It’s taught me so much about myself. There is no end to it, never boredom. There is always something to improve.
8. What are the most common mistakes in training handstands and how to solve them?
Just jumping right into it and throwing yourself against the wall. With no preparation to wrists or finding out if the shoulders can handle the load it’s just not the best idea. To solve them, think methodically.
Can my wrists extend enough for me to be able to place load on them? Can my arms actually go above my head in a way that would be safe for me to place my entire bodyweight on them?... and so on up the chain.
Find out where you need to direct your attention to and get to work. There are many, many arm balances you can play with before handstand that will help you get to handstand. I think too many people think it’s the starting point but there’s a lot of fun building up to handstand if approached in the right way, with the most efficient exercises. Crow / Bakasana for example. Feel the balance, strengthen the wrists and work on many areas that transfer into your goal.
9. Beginners always wonder on how to get started with training handstands when there is a lack of strength. How would a short training sequence for strength building look like?
I always focus on connection exercises first. When there is little body control or strength in a beginner I find this gives the most progress and has a HUGE transfer to strength. The more connections we have the more we can tune in to our bodies. Focusing on wrists, shoulders, core, hips.
I like to get beginners to work on a pretty plank position. For this I’d have them work through protraction, retraction, elevation and depression in the shoulders. Make sure they can pelvic tilt. I’d then put some focus on core work - a hollow hold.
11. What was the last book you read?
This is going to hurt. Adam Kay
12. What was the last thing (tool, toy, food… anything!) you bought that made your life easier?
Chalky, my adventure van. I love to go on adventures and sleep in the back with my pup.
13. Where can I train with you? Any upcoming events?
Curious about Gayle? Find out more about her: