Rick McCharles – consultant for Cirque du Soleil

Cirque has 12 shows worldwide and is more popular than ever. Over 7 million people will see a performance this year.

Cirque du Soleil has 2,400 employees and is hiring every day. I am contracted with Cirque as a travelling consultant helping them find the most talented gymnasts, divers and “extreme sport” athletes in the USA. Coaches tell me there is a big demand as Cirque continues to expand.

I am proud to be even a small part of an organization like the Cirque du Soleil.

conditioning – CrossFit exercises

CrossFit is an advanced strength and conditioning program used by police and military. It is popular with the martial arts community.

Firefighters, too, like CrossFit because it does not use weight machines, preferring free weights. They use many gymnastics exercises in which body weight provides the resistance.

Many video clips and photo sequences are linked from their exercises page:

CrossFit excercises list

log sit-up
team sit-up using a log for resistance

La Nouba, Cirque du Soleil – Orlando

La Nouba is an independent production built right into downtown Walt Disney World, Orlando.

It has been a big hit. In fact, Disney is considering building more specially-made Cirque venues at their other giant amusement parks around the world.

I loved the show. Their trampoline act is the best I have ever seen.

The current poster girl for La Nouba is one of the most popular Cirque performers, Natasha Hallet, member of the 1992 Canadian Olympic Team.


Yoga is better than nothing

I have friends whose dream vacation is spiritual, doing yoga for hours every day on the beach.

yoga on the beach

Historically we in the gymnastics community have been suspicious of Yoga. If you asked me to locate a fraud, I would look first in ashrams.

I am embarrassed by my lack of knowledge mastery of the musculoskeletal system. (I have no memory syndrome.) Still, my understanding is better than 90% of Yoga teachers. Their explanations are not as science-based as I would like. Where are the chakras? Exactly?

But my Tulum beach yoga teacher Sarah swayed me. I really enjoyed her sessions.

Joe Laughlin convinced me too. Joe is a professional dancer and a former National tumbling champion. A serious athlete.

Joe retired at age 37. Then made a comeback a couple of years later. He said that by doing only Pilates (something of a Germanic evolution from Yoga) he was restored to the best shape of his life. Many serious athletes I know have embraced pilates. It works.

I now, finally concede that yoga can improve fitness and is not simply trendy posturing. Not just an excuse for sipping latte with your yoga-mat-toting friends.

gymnastics – conditioning for bars

22bars150.jpgJohn Geddert, Twistars Gymnastics Club, is one of the best coaches in the USA.

He posted some good conditioning drills for bars in an article in Technique magazine:

Beginning Uneven Bars

A shortcoming of most inexperienced coaches is that they become impatient in the development of the necessary strength. The end product is usually poor technique, lack of success and, in turn, frustration on the part of the athlete and the coach.

dispute management

listenerAs a poor-listener this is something I need learn.

When I disagree with someone in future, I plan to:

1. Listen carefully – “I hear you.”

2. Acknowledge – “I appreciate / recognize how you feel.”

3. Offer proof – “I know how you feel. I felt the same way when…”

4. Share your discovery – “What I found that worked for me was…”

Disagree — without undermining.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Thanks to Garth Rowan for explaining this to me. He calls it the Feel, Felt, Found formula.

gymnastics – innovative equipment

Marvin Sharp is the Head Coach of Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy in Indianapolis.

The club has posted photos of their gym.


Bar height can be adjusted, in seconds, from 3 ft. to 8 ft. and anywhere in between. This is the same bar used at the USAG National Team Training Center (The Ranch).
That is where we got the idea.


Giant custom made spotting blocks! Here we are using the blocks to make a canyon bar for pirouettes, uprises, etc.

See more of the Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy facility.