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  1. Hi everybody In light of a lot of sports/steadicam related discussions I figured, why not share my experience. As some of you may know, besides being a steadicam operator, I’ve been an avid competitive gymnast for over 23 years. I just wanted to take the time to write up a small article about gymnastics and the steadicam life and how I feel the two have influenced each other over the past years. Comparing the two has made sense to me since the day I picked up a rig. Like many athletes, gymnasts spend years practicing and developing skills before entering official compeition. The same goes for steadicam, in the beginning, one spends a lot of time developing the strength and insight into what makes a great operator on smaller projects before being able to work on a feature film or a tv-series. Both disciplines (cause let’s face it, steadicam doesn’t involve sitting around doing nothing) require a great deal of strength and stamina. For me personally the two have had tremendous benefits towards one another. Due to my sports background I was able to quickly adapt the musclememory needed to operate this wonderful machine, in return, the more jobs I keep getting, the stronger my legs and back get, making it possible for me to achieve new heights in gymnastics (literally). Though a lot of attention has to be directed towards correct posture, stretching, preventing exertion, both operating steadicam and gymnastics require a bit more than just the physical aspects. I’m talking about the gear, Jerry Holway once told me “Give a master violin player a second hand piece of wood with strings and he’ll be able to play a song, give the same person a Stradivarius and it becomes art”. A great operator can achieve the best shot in the world with the right type of gear, as for a gymnast, this is very similar. I’ve seen a world class gymnast fall of a highbar during an olympic event final, because the flex of the bar was just a little different, the chalk didn’t feel right and 4 years later, that same guy had all the right elements to make “Art” and he brought home the gold medal. I take care of my rig the same way I take care of all the pieces of apparatus in the gym and they both continue to deliver wonderful results. Last part I wanted to touch upon was the matter of safety. Running with a rig down a slippery rocky hill or throwing yourself 4 feet in the air over a solid steel bar, just because that’s what people expect from you can lead to one of two things. Either you get a standing ovation for a fantastic running shot/catching the bar, or you end up breaking your neck. The fact that the latter hasn’t happened to me is because my coaches have always demanded a safe training environement, which I held dear to my heart. I carried on this habit from the moment I first started operating, every running shot I do, every hardmount I rig, every single precarious situation I encounter on set, safety is always my number 1 concern. The main conclusion for me is that both disciplines have had major benefits towards each other and I can only recommend combining sports with operating steadicam. Any other (former) athletes on the forum? I’d love to hear your take on how steadicam may have improved your performances or how your choice of sport has helped out in your operating. Greetings Nils
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