In this interview, I sit down with Andy Timm– a new member of Iron Athlete’s coaching staff as well as the East Valley CrossFit competition team. Andy has been involved in gymnastics since age 3 and competed at the Junior Olympic level up to Level 10. He was a member of the ASU gymnastics team, which won three National Collegiate Championships during his college career. He is currently the General Manager of USA Youth Fitness Center, and a Head Clinician for Power Monkey Fitness. Please see the Coaches page for Andy’s full bio. Also, you can look forward to Andy’s appearance at Rush Club, the new head-to-head functional fitness competition, on February 7th!
Could you share a little bit about your athletic history and how you got started in gymnastics?
I’m a triplet. My mom got us all started in gymnastics when we were young. The rest of my siblings stopped by junior high, but I kept with it. I also wrestled and played baseball, and played just about every other sport there was. I was always into conditioning and working out, and gymnastics fulfilled that for me.
I believe you also have experience as a strongman competitor and a CrossFit competitor. Can you tell me a bit about what drew you to these events? Did you find that your gymnastics background gave you any particular advantages or disadvantages when you shifted into other sports?
Yes, I won a Strongman competition in Atlanta two years ago. After college gymnastics, I just did the whole bodybuilding thing. My brother, Joe, had been CrossFitting for a couple years and always told me I needed to try it. Finally, about 3 years ago I did, and I fell in love with it. My gymnastics background helped, but I my lack of experience with squats and Olympic lifting hurt me. But now my Olympic lifts are all pretty solid, and my squat gets stronger every day.
Tell me about Power Monkey Fitness. What do you do as a member of Team Power Monkey, and what does it offer aspiring athletes?
Power Monkey Fitness runs gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting clinics, giving participants the opportunity to work with high level coaches and athletes. We also sell gymnastics equipment for CrossFitters. Dave Durante is one of owners and an Olympian; we competed in gymnastics at the same time. He asked me to be on coaching staff and on team. We hold two camps a year in TN where athletes can come to be better gymnasts and weightlifters. Chad Vaughn is the Head Coach for the weightlifting side. I’m one the lead clinicians and specialize on the rings with coaching.
Are there specific techniques/methodologies/approaches from gymnastics training and coaching that you think would benefit the CrossFit community?
I think gymnastics and weightlifting are very similar. They both take as much skill as they do power. Some people and coaches just try to jump into learning gymnastics skills, and they need to realize that it takes practice and proper technique. You must learn the basics first. Even the best gymnasts in the country do basics every day, and that is why they are so good. I really want the student to understand the whole skill and to learn it from the ground up.
With the absolute beginner athletes that I coach, they seem most daunted by Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics. What do you do with a very beginner—someone who doesn’t have a strict push-up or pull-up—what do you have him or her focus on?
Good question. The main thing to focus on is still getting stronger while also working the basics. So there are plenty of progressions with every gymnastics skill. The key is to keep them interested in doing the basics, which may not be as exciting as the actual skill, but in some cases the drills you do leading up to it are harder. For example, recline rows for pull ups. Recline rows are probably harder than pull ups if done correctly.
Let’s talk about the controversial muscle-up—the CrossFit skill that isn’t even a skill in gymnastics ring work. How do you build up a CrossFit athlete to achieve his or her first muscle-up?
Again, start from the ground up. There are steps to getting the muscle up that one must go through to develop the strength and also the muscle memory. And, technically the muscle up in CrossFit is a front uprise, well at least sort of. Lol.
With such a diverse athletic background, what’s next for you? What goals do you have for your own future as an athlete or a coach?
I’m going to continue doing CrossFit. I’m leaning towards being fully committed to the EVCF team this year, then jumping back in and going as an individual next year.
Where can people go to find you?
Facebook- Andy Timm