Posts Tagged With: Gymnastics

California, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Florida!

Wow folks, it’s been over a month since I posted! Sorry not sorry. Let me tell you why!

Last you heard (besides Shanties first race) was our poor Skoolie blowing the transmission and leaving us sideways in the middle of a highway. Once we handed over my left arm and Matts wallet to fix the motor, we parked it in Oklahoma. Matt was a champ and took on a part time job in contracting with my family while I found odd end jobs.

Before we left Florida back in July, I had already committed to doing hair for a wedding for mid October. To keep my word, I packed up Shanti and headed east to fulfill my promise.

Quick pic of the bridal party and their beautiful hair! Such a fun group of lovely women!

This was the beginning of 2 full weeks in the panhandle spending quality time with Gam Gam and MiMi! I know Shanti enjoyed it as much as her grandmas did!

FYI: Gam Gam is my mom in the collage below.

…and Mi Mi is Matts mom in the photos below!

After I wrapped up the time in Florida, we loaded up again and flew all day to land in Sacramento, California. This is where Shanti and I spent another week visiting friends and doing hair. This trip to Folsom was the first since I was only 6 months pregnant. Our little travel love bug! This girl (daughter of Nomads) has been on 12 flights in her 9 months of life!Hair clients, childhood friends and what I call “chosen family” welcomed us with so much love and arms wide open. The story goes… I booked this California trip with Matt coming as well to assist with Shanti, “father-daughter days” as I did hair. With him working and building on the bus in Oklahoma, we decided it’d be more productive if he stayed back and I went alone.

wait, Matt working without a camera? Yep! My amazingly talented husband dove into the dusty world of cabinetry, both professionally and in our bus!

Meanwhile back in Cali, look at these happy & helpful people loving on Shanti!

I had a day off that allowed me to take Shanti to her first gymnastics class! It was Halloween week so the kids got to wear costumes! Fun fact – Her coach Kira is also a long time friend that actually visited us in Barbados! You’d recognize her from the post Visitors… a dozen of them! Another fun fact- This is the same gym that I taught at for 7 years and Matt worked at last year! Click here for the post about Tricks Gymnastics!

Shanti had no fear of going upside down and clearly likes to shake it…. I mean bounce it….rrrr… jump?!

Andrea and Josh, the way you opened your home and handed over the car keys meant so much to me. I felt extremely comfortable and our trip wouldn’t have been the same without your hospitality!

On our flights back to daddy in Oklahoma, we got to meet 2 unforgettable women and a bundle of others. #iplankforpizza (I’m embarrassed to admit I forgot her first name) is a fitness instructor that Shanti immediately connected with. It’s hard not to make a new friend when a small human is literally attempting to sit in your lap.

These flight attendants kidnapped her right away and asked for my phone… they brought her back with a photo of the captain letting her explore!

Dionna from our late night flight was by far the most helpful during our journey. Shanti was showing signs of being tired and I was ready for my pillow and slippers. Not only did Dionna hold Shanti, she had a seat with us and let my little monkey climb all over her while we had some girl chat. She’s one of those women that you can talk too easily and feel like you’ve known for years! It was too dark for a photo but I most definitely see us reconnecting in the future… bus and all!

Speaking of the bus, once Shanti and I got back to Oklahoma with Matt, we packed up and headed to Arkansas to get the floors done!

A huge thank you beyond words and a blog post mention to our cousin Dakota. Not only did he allow us to park our bus on his property, he gave us his room and took on the role of the best Uncle Koda ever! We thank you so much!A little more family time is always wonderful with these lovely people!While we were there, we also took a family day and went to the Gorge near Hot Springs for a walk and mini hike. What a backyard to play in!…back to the bus.

Our cousins (and owners of the recently awarded #1 company O’Bryan Family Flooring) provided us with these beautiful floors!

After 4 months of living between Oklahoma and Arkansas, we headed back to Florida to complete the bus and spend the holidays on the beach!

Next up, our new chapter in Miramar Beach Florida! Photo by my hubby:)

Categories: Accommodations, Baby Talk, Bus life, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back back to Cali Cali!

So there we were, living in Folsom, California as newlyweds ready to start a foundation for our future. (We only lasted 8 months, but here it was in a nutshell!)

Accommodations: We purchased a 28ft princess palace (aka a travel trailer) in order to live minimally and save to the max. We loved our little home and it served us properly before we sold it to move.

Working: I dove right back into the world of beauty by reopening my hair salon under the new name of “Hair Gypsy”. My loyal clients were so eager to support the return and helped get me back in action!

Matt continued his photography and videography by shooting family photos, senior portraits, weddings and special events. You can check out that gallery by clicking here!

Both of us got a rejuvenating job coaching at Tricks Gymnastics, Matt was working in the Tag program and I was coaching the artistic gymnastics.

(Fun fact: I worked at Tricks from 1997-2005 coaching the competitive team!)

On the side, we also picked up dog sitting which turned into our favorite little paw escape. These pups were so much fun and turned into family!

When we weren’t working, you could usually find us (mainly Matt) on a bike exploring the popular trails that surround the Lake and extend to outer cities.We also took advantage of being surrounded by some incredible destinations and often took day or weekend trips to explore!

Lake Tahoe!Santa Cruz!

San Francisco!Although Northern California has beautiful scenery, unlimited career options and some of my most favorite people in the world… it just wasn’t feeding our souls. A tough decision but a solid one as we decided to move to the Panhandle of Florida.

Just before packing up to move across the states we found out that we were soon to be a party of 3… What a beautiful addition to our already exciting life!

Next journey… road trip back to the East Coast!

Categories: Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

You’re never to old to play upside down!

On my first return to Barbados back in 2012 my friend Ryan introduced me to Shane De Freitas and the local adult gymnastics class. For the full flash back of those days see the post called Calories… love to consume them, love to burn them! Year after year I’d return to the family of gymnasts (who probably laughed at the fact that I just referred to us as “gymnasts”) for more fun and fitness. Last year we caught several action shots seen in A flippin good time. Thank you Mark Harris for the photo session! 

And now it’s 2017 and we play again! Photo credit to Matt Stone @

At any point in time during the session, there’s a large chance you’ll find our irreplaceable Andy perched on top of the mushroom (aka- meditating, relaxing, shrooming, cheating, sleeping, sitting or chilling).

Clearly we have no fun at all.

To wrap up another amazing day full of flips, twist, jumps, splits and laughs, we nailed a group photo on the first take (after a 20 minute discussion on where and how we’d do it).

Coach Shane, I hope you fully grasp the gratitude we all share for your willingness to coach our almost uncoachable personalites and laugh along with it. Beyond the smarty comments and occasional groaning (no names mentioned) we actually enjoy the quality conditioning that we claim to be torture. I’m confident to speak for the class that your absence leaves our Tuesday and Thursday evenings feeling a bit incomplete and rather… well, normal. We’re looking forward to your return while sending you all the luck and love you deserve! 

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Handstanding to donate!

It’s that time of year again! I did a handstand with the intention of having you to take a shot for how long I held it. The person with the closest guess will then choose where herhappytrails donates this years $50 cash! 

Last year was 33 seconds and a split win! A special thanks to my buddy Cruz Gaskins who donated right back to herhappytrails (sneaky gift that was) and to Jessica Rendon for choosing the Rainforest Affiliation! 

Click here to watch the handstand from 2015

The year prior was 41 seconds and the charity that Mark Philipps decided on was Make a Wish Foundation!

Click here to watch the handstand from 2014

After 5 years and hundreds of handstands I still love to be upspide down, preferably in a place that I don’t speak the language and where several locals question my mental stability. Until that next brilliant opportunity, here’s a few examples of the toe points seen in the Handstanding around the world page.

Not that it will help your guess in any way, shape or form…. but below is a cute little collage of the first two years with the current handstand on the right. Good luck!

Now you ask, “But Erika, how do we ever join in this glorious fun?!” 

Easy as 1,2,3:

1. Make a guess.

2. Apply it in the comments below, email it to or on Facebook.

3. Wait for the reveal! (On Dec 31st)

Much gratitude for taking the energy to read, contribute and continue spreading the joy of giving!
Many cheers and one love,
Erika Mae Young
RESULTS 18 seconds!  This year I had a little fun with the shot and went with a shorter time and more entertainment! Thanks for all the votes and major vote and the winner is sweet Erin Sanders! Her charity of choice will be announced soon. ​

Categories: Fitness, Polls, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A flippin good time

On my first return to Barbados back in 2012 my friend Ryan introduced me to Shane De Freitas and the local adult gymnastics class. For the full flash back of those days see the post called Calories… Love to consume them, love to burn em!

Google Shanes name and what will most likely pop up is his participation in the 1996 Olympics back in Atlanta Georgia as the only gymnasts representing Barbados. Along side that, you’ll read of his success with Bimflip Gymnastics and his link with Power Monkey Fitness amongst other accomplishments. 

World, meet Shane De Freitas.

Putting all that boring stuff aside (said with sarcasm) this post is about his phenomenal students and our current Tues/Thurs class that more than likely keeps him grounded… or slightly insane.  Either way, the photos taken by the incredible Mark Harris will hopefully give you a broad idea of our quirky class! 

First task as always, warm up!  Some of you may or may not understand the concept of stretching and its necessity to the body, especially with age. Your hamstrings will thank you tomorrow.


Ryan clearly enjoys this stretch. Maybe it’s a hurt so good kind of thing?For the majority of the hour and a half we do random drills according to the events that are desired by the students. Considering we have a huge range of level, it’s always fun to see the variety of skill ability. Since this post isn’t geared towards the sport itself rather just to show how we like to spend our evening, I’ll let the photos do the most the talking. 




  More often than not, you’ll find us upside down… my happy place.  



Yes, we even brave the bars as most adults would be like, “You want me up where? Doing what?!”  Shy away from the beam?  Nah. Or in Dani’s case, beams. She jumps all three in a row! Out. Of. Her. Mind!Bars, beams and rings… Oh my! Remove the floor, bars, beam, ropes, mats and you’re left with… Air!  Our class loves to take flight.  I seem to have a mental block that suggests I have weights tied to my feet. Notice I handstand around the world… There’s no elevating involved.         Take notice this is a double rotation to a foot landing! I can barely sort out where I am when I roll out of bed.   I wonder what caught her so funny mid flight.  Gotta love a happy gymnast! I’ll end it with a few photos of us having a miserable experience in this self induced torture of a time.   

If you have any excuses for not doing gymnastics, please see the following who have proven otherwise:

“I’m too tall” –  Andrew, Martin and Max… All over 6ft 🙂

“You know I just surf, right?” – says Jessica while in her full splits!

“I have a bad knee.” – determination and dedication shown by Abby in a brace.

“I was just a child last time I did it.” – welcome back Ysabelle, Heather, Andy and Melissa!

“I can barely even touch my toes” – …but I can flip, jump, swing and twist like a champ, proves Ryan.

“I’ve never done it before” – most improved with a smile goes to Dani.

“I just had a baby” – watch a press to handstand by new mom Michelle!

“…but I’m a ballerina.” – clearly it helps sweet Lara!

“I only taught the sport, doesn’t mean I can actually do the skills” – till I (me) actually tried!

“Sure I’m the only Bajan Olympic Gymnast, 4 time world championship competitor, 2 time ranking All American and I have a skill named after me… But that was like, 15/20 years ago” – says Shane as he pulls a double front out of nowhere! 

         Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right. 

                                                                                                                                                Henry Ford

Categories: Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Janae González… A Rising star.

Just one of the many reasons I value my years of teaching gymnastics is to have had the opportunity to watch the students develop into fantastic young adults and superb athletes. I’ve gotten to witness these talented girls arrive at full ride scholarships, nursing, paid modeling, fashion design, photography, coaching, to even world traveling.  

My girls (as I selfishly like to claim) have grown into positive contributing members of this huge planet and I couldn’t be more proud!  If I made the time to write about each one of the hundreds (no exaggeration) I’d have to change my blog to “Their happy trails“.

Today I want to highlight a young woman that I connected with when she was still learning long-division and cursive writing. A few cartwheels and a bright smile gave me no doubt that this little stud would grow beyond the small gym we met in.  Janae González is the fourth smile from the left.

Following a succeful gymnastics stretch, a different sport captured her heart and behold… Another natural ability was exposed! What’s in the future moment for this vibrant super star? Soccer!

Having already particiapted in the U17 Women’s World Cup for Mexico, she’s been eagerly invited to represent and play for a U.S. College.  Since I’m not the first admirer to write about this spectacular girl, you can easily search her name to find out the list of incredible steps she’s had in her blossoming career. Check out her already buzzing energy with Santa Clara Broncos!

Here are a few shots from the World Cup.

Now to a point that is equally impressive, in which I’m most proud to introduce to you.  When this driven little lady isn’t studying, practicing or playing, she’s working in the world of donations. A few years back Janae and her older brother started JC4K. The goal is to collect new and/or gently used soccer gear and toys to give to those that are less fortunate. Through the years, they  have sent gear to Mexico, Ethiopia  and throughout the U.S. 

Here’s a video of the kids receiving just a portion of their collections: JC4K donation video!

Janae, you are a prime example of the bright light that our world needs to be surrounded with. Your heart seems to shine in the right place, and your smile confirms it all. Happy birthday sweetness… Keep spreading the love!

A special thanks to her mom and family. You’ve encouraged this spirited girl not only as a daughter and a sister, but as a productive individual. Looks like she has the right balance of deep roots and wide-spread wings… I’m so thankful to have been a small part of her beautiful path and now I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads. Cheers to you all!

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Happy and healthy with sandy toes!

We’ve all heard the famous words, “Exercise releases endorphins”. These are natural hormones that flood the body with a feel-good energy that releases stress and uplifts your mood… and I love it!

I headed down to the complimentary gym of the condo to get my heart rate up and release those amazing endorphins.
Although small, I appreciated the cleanliness as I observed what tools I had to work with. They had a few treadmills, two seated bikes and a set of free weights all stored in a compact room with a magnificent view.



As I peddled away during my warm up, it hit me… wham! I’m sitting in a tiny room with florescent lighting, and a window that happened to be showing me a much bigger, brighter, and fabulous gym… We call it the beach!

I stopped the bike and headed towards mom to see if she was up for a workout in the sand. The gym was on the 4th floor, our place sat on the 20th and if you know me well, you know this was an invite for a stair climb. Ready set go!



Once reaching mom, 2 minutes and 18 seconds later (I timed my stair climb each attempt in order to motivate a quick pace) we agreed that a beach visit would be the perfect ending to this vibrant day.

Fitness time! I’m going to break this down into some basic thoughts for a proper beach workout.

Let’s start with some rules. First off, check your surroundings to make sure you don’t put yourself or any others in danger. That appears easy today!



Next, scan the sand for any seashells that can later be made into jewelry (that I’ll be taking abroad to gift, trade or donate).


Bring liquids to keep hydrated (preferably in self designed cups).



Be aware of seagulls and/or any other flying creature that could view your head as a target.


Time to get the heart rate up! I spy I tiny bird that wants to play tag, so I sneak up…


…and the chase begins! He won.




I take a breather to practice some press handstand moves. These are much harder for me than it appears!





Back to increasing the heart rate… Tuck jumps and running in place are two great ways to do so while triggering different muscles.




I then attempted to play with the waves. I chase them, they get me. I dodge them, they get me.





Now everyone STOP! Its time for the dance portion of this work out.






Followed by a quick photo shoot requested by the photographer (my proud mom of course).





A peaceful stretch after the energetic fun seems to align the mind and body to a calm sense of completion.





The final task is sharing the sunset with your best friend. Taking each breath in appreciation for your health and happiness while having full gratitude for whats in front of you. I cheers with a smile to living in the now.



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Calories – Love to consume them… love to burn em!

“Th Ackee Tree” – otherwise known as “The home of the one pound Roti”.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

What’s a roti? Delicious. It starts with a thin wrap (skin) pressed together with dried chickpeas in almost hummus form.  Then they fill it with your choice of meat, veggies and sauces.  Today I got shark with chickpeas and pumpkin. Added some tamarind, pepper sauce and a hint of curry. It’s wrapped up in almost burrito form and served a la carte.
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Can you see the two separate wraps with the dried hummus in the middle?
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I decided to destroy it and eat it with my fingers by tearing the wrap and pinching the filling into each bite.  As I was feeling a little silly (just a little), Ryan informed me that I was eating it the traditional way. The roti “burrito” is fairly modern and more for convenience.   
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Coconut jelly is the meat in a green young coconut (the white part before it turns hard). It can be so soft that it reminds you of gelatin. I dont think it’s like anything near what your typical coconut tastes like. This is mildly sweet and personally one of my new favorite flavors!
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Catch of the day choices at an outdoor restaurant called “Just Grillin”. After you pick your fish or meat you can make it a sandwich, salad or plate and pick from a variety of sides. .
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This is Souse, the national dish of Barbados. Traditional a Saturday night food to serve with a pudding made from either sweet potato or blood. Back in the slavery days the owners of the land would butcher the pigs and keep all of the “good” meat and pass the left over “parts” to the workers. They would then pickle and season with peppers and spices, topping it off with onion or cucumber.  When eating this authentic dish you may encounter an ear, hooves, a tail, or maybe even a shoulder.  
The dark brown you can barely see to the top right is the pudding. The other side is green banana, a fruit that compliments the flavor of the souse.
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These stands are the common “fast food” choices.
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The menu
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The grill master
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Ryan got the barbecued chicken with fried plantains, chips and salad shown in the pictures. I ordered the grilled fish, chips and salad but ate it before it dawned on me to take a picture.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Time to burn off some of those calories!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my past in gymnastics, I never did it as a child but started coaching at 14. Through training and teaching, I worked my way through the upper levels until reaching the head coach position of a completive team. I then finished up my journey in the gymnastics world as a judge and member of NAWGJ.

Although coaching is where my heart stays, it was so much fun to be on the other side as a student.  I got to try new things in the hands of one of the best. No, seriously… This is Shane De Freitas. He is the only gymnasts to have ever represented Barbados in the 1996 Olympics!  

His cheerful and laid back attitude combined with an extreme amount of knowledge made a perfect match for this class.

From left to right: Ryan, me, Shane, Michelle and Jodie.
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Time to stretch-out and warm up.
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A little floor with handstands, cartwheels, back walk overs and more.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Beam- I dedicate these two pics to all of my gymnasts from years past.  Great memories girls!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Bars brought a lot of laughs.  It seems pretty typical for little girls to “play” on a set, so childhood memories of recess came to mind. We started with some swings, then holds and the last photo is mid rotation of a back hip circle (which sounds cooler than it is) but I did it after all these years!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Although Ryan claims to not be a natural (and never had lessons), here he is with extreme height and great rotation in a back tuck. “I just like to jump off of things”.
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Palma horse is a men’s event that we got to give a try.  Attempting some of the most basic skills brought an entire new level of respect for the athletes that make it look so easy.
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To say he was showing off would be like accusing a doctor of showing off by knowing the alphabet. This stuff was extremely elementary for him and really entertaining to watch.
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I have no idea what this is called but it was fun!  You grip two separate bars and proceed to elevate your body sideways to an inverted position. Yeh… Right.  With Shane’s boost, I was able to get a feel for it, thanks pal!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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Girls just wanna have fun! Our three attempts for a perfect rope picture.  I wouldn’t say we failed, just had creative results.  All great times ladies!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Final photo of the night with the whole crew.  Just a bunch of big kids with big hearts and bigger smiles.  A personal thanks to this group for the open arms (and monkey toes) to send me on my way…  High-fives!
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