I always thought my husband knew everything. "Ask your father," is my standard response to all questions, like, "Mom, how far away is the sun?" "How deep is the ocean?" "What are bullets made of?" "Where does money come from?" I can only answer the last one off the top of my head ("Why, selling your soul to the devil, honey.") Otherwise, Hal's the answer man, always has been.
Imagine my surprise, when listening to the Dixie Chicks singing Goodbye Earl for the first time, when he asked me, "What's the FFA?" I couldn't believe my ears… but, then, what would a Scranton-born Tufts man know about Future Farmers of America? (Yep, this is the best I can do when it comes to what I know vs. what he knows. Pathetic, I know.) A Kentucky girl knows all about the FFA. At some point in a country girl's life, it's the foreseeable future.
FFA stands for something different for us nowadays. Now, it stands for Future FreeRunners of the Americas. What is free running? When I asked the boys, they directed me here (turn down the volume):
This is how they see themselves getting across town in their foreseeable future: leaping and back-flipping across rooftops. Nerve-wracking for mom? Tell me about it. On the other hand, they are in the best shape of their short lives, they are almost 18, and, since they can hold me at arm's length while I swing and swear, they pretty much get to do what they want. Hopefully, I'll never have to watch them hurl their fragile bodies from a parking garage to a neighboring balcony.
At first, I calmed my terror with the knowledge that conquering their first cityscape was a loooong way into the future. A future when they would understand the madness of free running, then call the whole thing off. That was six weeks ago when they started gymnastics' classes. But they are more determined than that. Last Friday, they were already doing front flips. In six months, they'll be flipping all over the dang place.
Now I pin my hopes on the fact that the first thing a teenager learns is how to land. Surprisingly, self-preservation is high priority among teens. Who knew? Maybe they all drink and drive, but they are not interested in breaking their necks: tuck and roll is the first move they conquer.
The boys take class two places. Sunday mornings, there is one class a month at the big gymnasium in Sabana Park ($16/month each). When we first went to inquire if there was even a class for teens, I thought, if there were, a) it'd be mostly girls and b) mostly tweens. HA! At the first class, there were over 30 teenagers, 90% boys!!! And one 40 year old guy. Probably 10% were really good gymnasts, the rest in descending abilities. I was completely surprised by the turnout. These are not gymnasts in the style of Nadia Comaneci. These teens are looking to free run a la Walters and Livewire.
During the week, they take class at Club Carbonell in La Uruca. The teen class is Mon-Fri 8am-10am; the boys go 3x per week, $6 each per class. They are almost always the only kids there so get a really good workout and lots of personal instruction. Teachers both places are excellent. Costa Rica has a national team and they travel the world competing, winning awards… so, who knew that???
Ryan is the driving force behind free running. Mo enjoys the classes, but not like Ryan. Ryan is obsessed: he
does pull-ups, push-ups and crunches ad nauseum. He's lost about 15
pounds, lookin' for the six pack. That dedication is pretty impressive! After Ryan's first class at La Sabana, when they kicked his ass with exercises and running, before he even got to jump on anything, before Mo decided to go along, after that class, when he got in the car, he looked at me and said, "That was the funnest thing I ever did in my whole life." It doesn't get any better than that.
Naturally, I've been videotaping the progress:
The Big Bonus
From the second he got free running fever, Ryan started practicing handstands. He'd do 100 a day easy. Then the push ups started, pull ups and crunches. But handstands first, constantly. At the end of the first week, he got like a chest cold. He's the asthma boy, so anytime he gets a cold, I get worried. But this was different: a productive cough, which is unusual for an asthmatic. You want a productive cough, but you don't usually get it… just the dry I-can't-get-enough-air cough. And no fever, no other symptoms. Just that nice cough and kinda tired. After about five days, he was completely over that. Then I read in my yoga book (the best yoga book ever, I've had my copy since 1975), that upside down positions are excellent for the lungs, loosens up the crap. Coincidence? I don't think so. Whatever, his asthma is way under control these days. There are lots of things that have contributed and I'll write about that soon, but I think upside-downing played a big role at our house!