I’ve been a pretty high-performing athlete in 3 different sports. I was on the US Junior National Team as a gymnast and competed at a high level in college. Facing years of work with an uncertain selection process to compete at the Olympic and world championship level, I decided to switch to motorcycle racing and advanced to one of the top 5 riders in the US. The economics of the sport became prohibitive so I became a coach and took up Enduro mountain bike racing to feed my competitive spirit. While I still feel I’m improving in the sport, I’d likely be ranked in the top 100 riders internationally.
I’ve been very fortunate to have some good coaching, support and mentoring along the way. I learned a lot about how to train, develop skills and take care of myself physically. The Olympic Training Center (particularly the Russian coaches), the California Superbike School and now Grove Higgins have really contributed to my success as an athlete and a coach. Gymnastics is all about skill progressions. Unusually, we also use skill progressions at the school where I coach motorcycle racing (most people just ride to learn). Additionally, the school exposed me to sensory training and particularly the value vision skills bring to your performance. Grove has helped me bring it all together, by understanding neurology in view of what I’d experienced as an athlete and coach.
I went to see Grove on the recommendation of another pro mountain biker, Kelli Emmett because I wanted to feel better today and when I’m older. High-level gymnastics pushes your body to the limit every day. You are pretty much continuously rehabbing injuries and I had my share. At one point I had shooting pains in my back and legs daily. My back was still chronically nagging me and I wanted to see if I could do something about it. As many athletes do, I’d gotten good at compensating for movement restrictions by using muscles that weren’t intended for the purpose. That, in turn, caused muscle tightness and movement restrictions. Grove taught me to use the correct muscles again. He then used strength training to lock it in and improve my coordination – move well first and then add load. Of course, we did some sensory work as well to reduce threat and increase my mobility.
The results are terrific! I feel better than I ever have (partly because you never really feel good doing gymnastics). Old injuries don’t bother me anymore and I’m moving much better. I’m able to get in better body positions for cornering in my racing. And, I’m generating more power on the bike. I’m able to breathe better because of improved chest mobility and that’s helping my performance as well.
I think one of the reasons I’ve been able to transition successfully from one sport to another (and coach) has been my ability to distill the skills needed to be successful and learn them quickly. I find that many others are just hoping to gain those skills by time on the bike, and aren’t progressing as quickly as they could. Grove has broadened my view of skills to include sensory, breathing and movement skills. I like that this is the approach they are taking for each sport at NeuroAthlete. I’m looking forward to NeuroCyclist when it’s available.
Gerry Signorelli – Colorado Springs, CO