• Up Close and Personal with Coach Wilson: Why CrossFit Gymnastics is Important

    Up Close and Personal with Coach Wilson: Why CrossFit Gymnastics is Important


    “Be Patient, Limit Frustration” Gymnast David Durante

    At the CrossFit Kwetu box, Coach Wilson is known as the gymnastics guru, surprisingly to his own surprise. While he did not isolate his interest in gymnastics from other aspects of CrossFit movements, he seemed to have a predisposition to perform and effectively assist others in acquiring the techniques.

    In an interview with Coach Wilson, we discover more about why it is important to incorporate gymnastics in your workout regime. It is no coincidence that it is key in CrossFit.

    Crossfitter254 (C): How did you get into Crossfit?

    Wilson (W): I have been in fitness for over a decade. I worked in the most elite gyms in Kenya. It started to get monotonous; I felt I was doing the same thing all the time. One day, at one of my work places, a group of military men came to use the gym. I thought I was fit, until I saw the workouts they did. I also noticed their movements kept changing, they were here and there. My curiosity got the best of me and I asked them what it is they were doing. Of course, it was CrossFit. I started by joining them when they came for WODs- some of them were elderly but could perform better than I. At that time, I had also been thinking of doing a Bootcamp course because of the monotony, which I was getting bored of. I instead went on to do CrossFit Level 1 in New Delhi, India; I wanted to do it somewhere unique.


    Kiran, who is Kwetu’s co-founder and our Fearless Chef, encouraged Wilson to start coaching CrossFit. There was no box in Kenya at that time and Kiran already knew that the interest and curiosity for CrossFit was present.


    C: How did you become associated with gymnastics in particular?

    W: Actually, it is the Kwetu community that began associating me with gymnastics. People would come to me to assist them in improving their techniques; word spread around. I could say, it is them who made me the gymnastics guy.

    C: In which case, do you have a preference for gymnastics?

    W: I value all CrossFit movements as they are all necessary, but maybe we can say I have a predisposition toward gymnastics; it comes to me more naturally- something I was not even aware of myself. CrossFit helps you discover your strengths.

    C: We tend to perceive gymnastics as this thing only for experts.

    W: With gymnastics, as in any other movement, there is progression. You start at your level and with practice get better at scaling up your movements. Gymnastics requires a lot of patience. Gymnast David Durante always advises those doing gymnastics to be very patient and not to get upset when they are constantly being corrected.

    C: So why should we do gymnastics, anyway?

    W: First, even before looking into fitness, it really builds character. You need to be patient, you need to persevere and have the humility to try even 100 attempts.

    In fitness, gymnastics is among the body movements that requires a very high level of mastery. You become very aware of your body – body control – specifically your posture, which is very important in movements as weightlifting.

    Gymnastics really strengthens your trunk/core and shoulders. With a stronger trunk, you are less likely to compromise your lower back in other movements.

    There is emphasised focus on the neurological changes of the following components of fitness: coordination, agility, balance and accuracy; compared to a higher focus on changes in muscle tissue as in weightlifting.

    C: Wow! Can anyone then become very good at gymnastics or is it something that requires a predisposition?

    W: There’s definitely an advantage to having the predisposition, the flexibility. Also, the bulkier you are, the harder it may be to perform certain movements in gymnastics. But everything can be learnt with patience and practice. If we look at CrossFit, which more or less incorporates the lower levels of gymnastics, it can even take up to an year to be able to do a Muscle Up.

    C: Wilson, you are telling us, as tough as we find it to even perform the scaled versions, we are working at basic levels.


    W: Once again, we gauge it in terms of attempts and working progress, rather than ‘able to versus not able to’. You are somewhere in that continuum. The small gains you underestimate matter.

    C: Which of the CrossFit gymnastics movements are your favorite?

    W: Let me mention that CrossFit gymnastics movements are also functional. More often for the military. For instance, one of my favourite, the muscle up. You can imagine if you need to go over a wall or fence- time being of essence. My other favourite is the Planche. I am currently working on perfecting the Full Planche. Rope Climb is also part of gymnastics, and crossfitters are very keen on achieving and doing them right.


    I think this really broadens our views on gymnastics.

    We wish Coach Wilson the best in going on to achieve CrossFit Speciality: Gymnastics certification for all our sake.

    What is your 2017 gymnastics challenge? Share with us by commenting. We would love to hear your views.



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