One of my personal trainers, Scott, asked me about my goals. He may have been expecting me to say that I wanted to be lighter, stronger and faster, but instead I told him that I wanted to be able to climb trees, swing from bars and jump over walls. I wanted to be able to play with my boys and I wanted to be more flexible and supple. This pleased him greatly and over the past few months, I’ve been hanging from bars, practising on rings and crawling on the ground
So, when my friends at Strathmore Water invited me along to their Do More event with Commonwealth Games Gymnastics superstar and Do More Ambassador Dan Keatings, I pictured Dan being overwhelmed by my grace, strength and ability on the apparatus.
What can I say? I have a vivid imagination and an overwhelming amount of self belief.
Plus, look at me on these rings!
If ever there was a blogger prepared for an event, it was me. What I wasn’t prepared for was the scene I witnessed on my arrival. For one moment, I thought I had arrived at a One Direction event, not one for Dan Keatings. For it was full of screaming and hyper children.
I have often questioned the value of using athletes to promote physical activity to the masses, but seeing how the children responded to Dan, my views have changed (a little). These children were in awe of Dan and in turn, I was in awe of them.
In the waiting area they were jumping up in down, doing cartwheels, splits and various others moves that made me wince. I shared a look of fear and bewilderment with some of the other adults present.
To get us warmed up, we played a version of Tig. Two youngsters and I were charged with catching every other attendee, making them stop and wait till someone crawled under their legs, before they could resume running
I felt like Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, as I ordered the ten year old on my left and the twelve year old on my right to take the flanks while I assaulted the main body. I also pictured a lion hunting gazelles. I did say I had a vivid imagination.
Ten minutes later, my pride was shattered and I was lying on my back, gasping for breath. I had forgotten how fast and light on their feet, children could be.
I had also forgotten that I had often wondered how gymnasts looked like they did. With cover model physiques and muscles upon muscles. The first training session provided an answer. I was only just recovering from chasing the kids, when we split into three groups, with my group enduring a strength sapping circuit class. The presence of Dan Keating did momentarily give me a boost.
As I did planks, press ups, burpees and crunches, my eyes were drawn to the other two groups. One session had the kids focusing on their floor work and the other had them working on their pummel skills. Both groups showed more talent than I could ever hope to achieve and my own efforts on the apparatus were met with laughter and even some applause, as I seemed to invent new ways of landing. Most of which involved my backside.
Throughout the morning I was amazed and impressed by the skills and attitudes of the kids present. Hidden amongst them might be future champions, but in my eyes they also represented hope. We often read about how inactive the youth of Scotland are, but here were a large group of kids who had honed some impressive skills and who genuinely loved what they were doing and who hung on every word of advice Dan gave them.
However, despite all their hard work, there can only be one, and it was left to Dan Keatings to make the final judgement and decide upon his star pupil:
I spoke to Dan later about his success, his future goals and his training. Like Libby and Robbie before him, he is determined, dedicated and disciplined while also humble and passionate about his sport. With Glasgow hosting the Gymnastic World Championships in 2015, he has another challenging year ahead.
He too spoke about the children, about how impressive they were and how important it is to get them involved and to keep them engaged. His own training started at five years old, as he prepared to follow his family into Thai Boxing and it shows the value of being a Try Athlete at a young age. We can’t predict what sports and activities our children will enjoy, but we can try and let them Do More of them and allow them to discover new talents and their own interests.