Learning to cartwheel is a great fitness goal

Learning to Cartwheel outside in the park

Emotions as a source of motivation

A client of mine had always wanted to do a cartwheel.  She’d never been able to do one, as a little girl.  She’d taken junior ballet/gymnastics classes, where she’d been teased by the other girls for being too chubby and uncoordinated to perform the move.  Years later, when she started weightloss training with me, her goal was not about dropping a dress size.  It was about learning to cartwheel.

[Jump to Cartwheel Workout >>> updated Aug 2011]

Power of Intrinsic Value

My client’s mental focus and energy had been freed from an extrinsic goal (weightloss) and redirected to an intrinsic value (cartwheeling).

This approach – finding the intrinsic value in your training – probably flies in the face of most ideas about setting fitness goals.  Yet the technique works, as discussed by eminent psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who describes the power of intrinsic value in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

Finding an emotional connection

Many people who set themselves extrinsic fitness goals – losing x number of pounds; completing the race in x minutes – find sticking with their fitness regime more difficult.

I recommend my clients find an intrinsic value behind training, to motivate them.  Something that will connect with them on an emotional level, like: improving your diet by learning how to cook, rather than giving up pizza; or keeping up with your toddler running around, rather than losing baby weight.

Tapping into your emotions, as a source for motivation, boosts results and provides a powerful feeling of accomplishment.

Cartwheel Workout

I recently stumbled across a great post by Nichole – an American blogger, currently in the last weeks of her pregnancy, who was cartwheeling outdoors last year.  She writes:

“We ended up at the park down the street, playing frisbee, napping in the sun, and eventually doing handstands & cartwheels.  There is just something about the Fall air & a big stretch of grass that makes it easy to play like a kid. … After 30 min or so of handstands, my abs were aching!  Funny how things you took for granted when you were 8 years old really kick some major butt nowadays.  Now, 3 days later, my super stiff arms, shoulders, abs, and legs are finally starting to mobilize again.  Who knew regular ol’ playing could be such an amazing workout!?! It was so much fun to goof off & I was so sore the next day that I know there will be more handstands & cartwheels to come. Maybe it will become the new Saturday workout? 3 reps of 15… go!”

I’d be interested to know if any blog reader has been cartwheeling for fun and fitness, like Nichole, or tried incorporating cartwheeling into an informal outdoor workout. Share your tips and tricks in the comments section below.

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