• Cass Lau

In the Air Chair I’d kick a Zombie over the Wishing Well

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

Invictus Gymnastics Course by Travis Ewart, Bali 2020

I’m tardy on my posts aren’t I? Nearly TWO months out of this trip but boy it’s one to remember.

I was asked to go on this trip to attend the Invictus Gymnastics Seminar by Travis Ewart, which was to be held at Fortitude CrossFit in Bali. I had been to the box two years ago and liked the vibe, albeit it being a relatively small box. The part of Bali it was in, Seminyak... not so much my cup of tea.

However, with the intention of attending a much needed workshop (which we were supposed to attend a year ago in the form of the CFGymnastics course), I thought that spending a few days in Seminyak with good friends wouldn’t be so bad. It wasn’t.

It was pretty awesome.

The Course

Day 1: Handstands & Kipping Pull-Ups

We took a grab to Fortitude Bali, a CrossFit box owned by a Singaporean. I had visited Fortitude slightly over a year ago LOVED their bathroom and the shake selection at the front desk. I promised myself that ACF 3.0 would have such good facilities too.

We signed a couple of gymnastics rings and headed to the center to commence on the first movement of the day, HANDSTANDS... and eventually Handstand Walks.

Definitely one of those non-functional party-trick-esque CrossFit movements that was a “cool-to-have”. And I wanted to demystify that movement, after all I had been limited to the library of what my box has. Not saying that I resented that, but it was clearly an opportunity, a GAP— if you will, to fill.

It was through this movement and the encouragement to “stumble” into our marches that I saw a glimpse of a training philosophy that I once was thankful for.

—That every step is progress.

And that every step is to be celebrated.

In my practice (that day) i hit 7 steps. He pulled me out and got me to try for 8. I tried a few times until I finally got it. I was congratulated, and excited to progress.

So many a time we get caught up with not being able to hit that extra kilo, or that ONE REP we missed. How about the progress we made from yesterday? Or from a month ago? Or from the day we started in the sport? What then?

Self-condemnation reduces our efforts to naught. And that isn’t giving you the due credit now is it?

Pull-ups were taught too, in a way that broke down the kip into “digestible milk” (#xfxz terms i.e. so easy even a baby could understand). AND I LOVED IT. I loved learning these new cues and how to teach others. And I realised how blessed I was to be there that day:)

Case in point: we were so excited that we quickly put what we learned from handstands to our mandatory handstand photo against the gorgeous backdrop that was our villa.


A separate conversation enroute back to the villa sparked an unwarranted reaction from me. #highlysensitive

“Maybe you’ll get your muscle-up tomorrow cass!”

They didn’t have to say anything for me to feel a pressure. And there I was trying to suppress the welling bubble of expectation that crept up from within me.

And though deeeeeep within i knew that I wouldn’t get it the next day, I could not bring myself to pop that bubble.

Day 2: Muscle-Ups

Our hands had become pretty raw from the grippy bars at Fortitude CrossFit. Another one of the athletes in the course, Maggie, who was from Egypt (wow.) and travelling with Travis, had ripped her hands to shreds the day before from our Butterfly Pull-up work 😫 My fear was that happening to me and I would not be able to get as much out of the course if that happened.

We spent the first bit of the day talking about some burning questions we would have in certain movements that may not be covered/have been covered but needed clarification. The conversation veered a little westward but was valuable nonetheless.

That‘s usually the case when you’re receiving a mental download from someone who is passionate about their job. Or if they’re so dialed-in to the topic that whatever they say is #wisdom. It was very refreshing to hear, and made me wonder what I would be able to speak about with such fire like that. I didn’t have the answer.

We were taught a couple of progressions which started from the mount to a kip to a snap pull to getting high into a turnover. Strict ring muscle-up and kipping ring muscle-up progressions were taught. It was fun.

But my heart was a teeny bit heavy.

A self-created air embolism.

Kip kip kip.

I performed the progressions pretty well if I dare say so myself. But soon the class progressed over the rings.

I didn’t.

I went a little quiet thereafter. 10% of it was unfounded disappointment in myself that I couldn’t make the movement, another 40% thinking that I was a disappointment to the people around me (those who cared anyway), and the last 50% simply in thought about what I could’ve done better.

Justin later made the comment that I was in a “funk”, to which Kylie responded, “she’s a strong one”. I notably put more effort into my enthusiasm to learn thereafter.

The day progressed with a déjà-vu lunch of shoveling and rushing back to the class. — We had even lesser time this time around because Kylie had asked Travis for tips to improve my muscle-up. He observed my eccentric RMU and spotted RMU, to which he replied (within earshot) that she should spot less, lest i become overreliant on the spot (which was true, I was very comforted by the knowledge that she would be there to nudge me over the rings). This left her thinking quite abit while I was concerned but not thinking at all for the reasons mentioned below*.

Post-lunch, it was BAR MUSCLE-UP time! I was excited because it was something I could actually do, albeit terribly inconsistently. But ANY tips would help loads take the skill up even half a notch.

But when I hopped onto the bar though. BOY MY HANDS WERE RAW AF. I did not expect that! Saturday‘s pull-up drills PLUS the ring work.. I wasn’t getting over that bar either.

*Admittedly the condensed content and the speedily eaten lunches left my mind reeling from the information overload. Whilst the content was AMAZING, this rusty brain had a decreased propensity for information absorption on day 2. I did try my best though.

Sure, many of the things taught could be learned off the computer. After all there are endless renditions of how to approach a single movement, and the variations would eventually plug all the potential gaps that other videos can’t.

But there’s something about the human touch that mass-produced online-programming can’t deliver (not throwing any shade on online programming! some well-managed ones are able to achieve a level of personalization, but only with good planning and dedicated resources). Which is why I prefer attending a talk or a course to hear from the person him/herself.

SO YES. I AM BRINGING TRAVIS TO ACF. Because my members NEED to see the gaps that need to be filled. Gaps that without pursuit will fall into ignorance.

The Digs

We stayed at The Layar, a villa centrally located in the city with easy access to everywhere we needed to go on this trip (of course the cheap gojek made it much easier to get around).

I had high hopes for the location, especially after I knew that Kylie had selected it with her astute “eye-for-design” and learning about the price tagged to the place 😱 #shookt.

I had peeked the villa designs on their instagram and had a preview to our accommodation. There were a few photos that boasted of breakfast which could be consumed IN THE POOL atop floating baskets and I thought “I better get me some of that”.

I didn’t. The thought of jumping into the water first thing in the morning didn’t sit well with me. The damned instagram models probably did it at 3PM under the hot sun and claimed it was morning.

We arrived early in Bali, and were picked up by the villa limousine which took us to The Layar. It was a glorious van with enough space for two families... but let’s just say, y’all better off calling a gojek or flagging a bluebird at the airport.

We were greeted by the pleasant news that we were upgraded from a 2-bedroom to a 3-bedroom villa. In my head I went “well so do we all sleep in different rooms then? It would be rather sad wouldn’t it?”

The room was not ready till 3PM so we popped out for lunch (at none other than SISTERFIELDS!) before checking in proper.

We were led to the premises via a small buggy that brought us through a 300m-ish route (judged based on a sprint that we did one of the days 🙄).

The heavy wooden gate (which later on gave us a couple of problems opening if it was not closed well) opened fo reveal a roughly tiled path surrounded by foliage led us to a glimpse of a well lawned carpet grass area adjoining a clear pool.

Maybe it was the heat of the afternoon post-walk from lunch or the glisten from the pool as the sunlight refracted off the surface of the water, or both, that made us want to jump in. But we had to have the entire room and it’s amenities explained to us by a service staff before we could do anything of that sort.

The rooms were lovely. 3 Bedrooms with two spacious bathrooms. Well I had one all to myself really as Kylie and Shree parked themselves in the one connected to the Master Bedroom.

The villa had two levels, the second level had a day bed that was the size of two queen-sized mattresses. We opted to sleep in this room to avoid any feelings of FOMO (mainly from me) and to get the best wifi-connection.

I’m not done about the pool. It had a jacuzzi that stopped working after the first day— or we didn’t know how to work it. But the cool pool water against our heated skin under a cloudless sky would suffice.

We were served breakfast that we would order by the poolside from a comprehensive menu every morning. This was sustenance enough for 3 of the 4 mornings we were put up there.

💯 this stay is going to be hard to be beat.

Unless someone can do something about dem mozzies 🦟

The Food

Listing this could be deemed as DECADENT but heck, sharing plates, cocktails, good conversations, in great cafés (not ONE did we ever regret) was worth it. How often would you get to do this anyway?

BUT. The list is long. So i shall differ that to another post 😉

Other things

We opted to do a drop in at Empire Fit Club with the intention to try out their obstacle course implements. But after much hemming and hawing, we joined in on the class to get a little push AND a taste of the culture at that facility.

The class basically had 3 WODs in it.

The warmup was a WOD, the strength portion was a WOD, plus my hands were RAW from the course so every pull was a struggle-fest.

TEAMS OF 2 (partnered Kylie)

Every 5mins for 5 rounds

40 burpees

40 inverted rows

40 DB snatches


Overall it was a great trip with these beauties. Both super wise in their thoughts and counsel, and way ahead of me in life that there’s so much to learn.

I often ask myself what have I done to deserve such friends as this? After all, what can i give in return?

I don’t have the answer to that, but I‘m just going to be grateful, and enjoy the ride 🙃

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