Amazing Lyle: How a Retiree Hit His Handstand Goal

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Meet Lyle, the retiree who achieved his lifelong handstand goal.

When Lyle retired from being a scientist and biologist, he wanted to run away and join the circus…!  He wanted to be an acrobat!

Lyle has been working on handstands for nearly 4 years. And, a few months ago, progress wasn’t coming.  Lyle purchased scores of bodyweight fitness books, scoured the internet for tips and tricks, attended to handstand seminars…and still couldn’t get away from the wall.

Lyle was frustrated. Lyle was stuck. Lyle was going nowhere fast.

But, through all of his internet searching and research, Lyle found the 28-Day Handstand Challenge. He accepted the challenge and immediately sent me an email.  He let me know the the number one thing holding him back…fear.

Lyle Email

Lyle ultimately purchased The 15-Second Handstand: A Beginner’s Guide, which was a small investment compared to the other six books he purchased, and the seminars he attended.  That’s when I started working with him directly.

As I got to working with Lyle, I realized that this wasn’t just some run-of-the-mill fear we had to conquer.  Oh, no.  Whenever Lyle would get inverted, his world would spin.  He gut would wrench.  He would get severely nauseous.  Lyle was suffering from vertigo, and it was not pleasant.

On top of that, Lyle had undergone over 10 major surgeries in his lifetime, including four that addressed key handstand anatomy – the hands, wrists and facial sinuses.

With the deck was stacked against him, Lyle still had this goal.. and he really wanted it.  What’s most surprising is that it was only a few small changes that took him from 4 years of stagnation to his first handstand hold.

He’s lucky that he didn’t take the easy way out, and just write it off as impossible…

On July 19th, just over two months after he started  the 28-Day Hhandstand Challenge, I received a video that shocked me. Lyle sent me his first freestanding handstand video and it was one of the most impressive beginner’s handstands I had ever seen!!  

This is his story.

Lyle’s Story

Lyle's Handstand

Chris: Thanks for sharing your story Lyle! To start off, we know that you’re retired…but what did you do before retiring?

Lyle: Prior to retiring, I was a biologist specializing in endangered species.  During a 33-year career, I worked with many different species of plants and animals, but spent the most time on conservation efforts for bats and carnivores.

Chris: You told me you wanted to retire and be an acrobat! Is that why you wanted to learn to perform the handstand?

Lyle: I wanted to learn the handstand because the movement personifies strength, balance, body awareness, and coordination.  It also looks neat!

Chris: That’s awesome! But you really had the deck stacked against you.  What was the biggest help when you were overcoming vertigo and fears of falling over?

Lyle: The pseudo-vertigo condition I deal with significantly limited my pirouette bailing practice because of nausea.  Vertigo virtually eliminated the possibility of using a rolling bail technique.  I was also afraid that the rotational force on an injured wrist would be problematic.  There were three keys to finally succeeding.  One was definitely the pirouette bailing methodology prescribed in The 15-Second Handstand.  Another was the help and suggestions from your emails.  Most importantly, a great deal of perseverance.  As I gain more and more control of the pirouette bails, I have less discomfort.  I have found that the pirouette bail results in less rapid eye movement.  This enables me to practice more/longer with no ill effects.

Chris: It seems like you acquired a lot of information… I mean, you had emails with me, the 28-Day Handstand Challenge, my 15-Second Handstand book, half a dozen other books and handstand seminars… From all of these resources, what is the BEST piece of advice you received during your handstand journey?

Lyle: Consistent practice is the single most important piece of advice.  In the beginning of my journey, wall handstands were a strength movement.  I failed to recognize that.  By the time I could hold a 90 second wall handstand, moving to free handstands was actually a skill movement and required more regular practice. Before the 28-Day Handstand Challenge, I was practicing once every 8 days to do a free handstand.  It was an exercise in futility.  I needed to practice more frequently.

Chris: I heavily push daily practice in the 28-Day Handstand Challenge, and am always talking about it (like in this article, about CrossFit and Handstands).  When we were working together, you kept telling me that you had these “bad habits” that needed fixing.  Do you think you really had bad habits?  Or did you just need proper direction?

Lyle: There is no question that proper direction (as provided by The 15-Second Handstand) would have significantly shortened my handstand journey.

Chris:  Its amazing how many people over analyze the handstand.  Most times, you just need to simplify it down to a few key steps.. One question I get a lot is about finding a place to train…where did you practice your handstands?

Lyle: I have practiced handstands anywhere I could find a bare wall with some space in front of it.  The majority of my practice has been at gyms, home, and motel rooms and hallways.  I have much more freedom now that I am no longer confined by a wall.

Chris: Well, I find your handstand journey inspirational and awesome.  Not to mention, you have the best beginner’s handstand I have ever seen.  To wrap this up, why don’t you let everyone know your biggest handstand influence…?

Lyle: Over the last year, I’ve been working out with some acroyogis and acrobats.  Nothing but perfect form is acceptable (if you can’t make it look nice, it isn’t worth doing).  They are almost all 30+ years younger than me and fairly idealistic, but a lot of fun nonetheless.  As a result, form has taken precedence over success.

Chris: And whats your goal as you go beyond 15-Second handstands?

Lyle: Once I have developed more consistency with handstands, I would like to learn to press into a handstand.  The movement takes all the positive attributes of the handstand to the next level.  The ability to press into a handstand would be an(other) incredible accomplishment.

Become The Next Success Story

Lyle Pirouette Bailing

Does Lyle’s story sound familiar? Do you doubt yourself or your abilities because you are “too fat”, “too frail” or “too old” to perform a handstand?

Fortunately, Lyle and others show us that it can be done.

By making smart, small adjustments to your lifestyle and attitude, you can make real progress and achieve things that you thought couldn’t be done “in a million years”.  Things you have been working on for months, years or even decades.

Lyle was able to build a system for his success. This wasn’t a quick fix…these were real changes that start with taking a challenge and building positive habits.  It’s focusing on proper direction, and consistent progress.

These small steps won’t get you the handstand overnight. BUT you can build a system of habits to get there in just a few weeks…and these same habits will take you way beyond handstands.

Lyle took action:

Continued Perseverance: Lyle hit road block after road block.  It took me over a year to get my first handstand – but Lyle was trying for nearly four.  When something wasn’t generating results, of course Lyle was frustrated, but he kept looking for different approaches, until he found one that worked for him.

Consistent, Steady Practice: Before Lyle started on my programs, he was only practicing once every 8 days.  It took him years to realize that handstands are mostly a skill…and all skills need to be practiced regularly.  Switching over to daily practice and making handstands a regular habit are crucial to success.  For any skill, you want to train as frequently as possible.  Once Lyle had that epiphany, it only took him a few months to hit his first handstand.

Lyle educated himself: When Lyle hit a sticking point, he would back up and try again.  He would find another resource, and read it voraciously.  (When I think of people doing handstand research, I think of an acolyte reading tomes of parchment by candlelight.  I think I am reading too much Game of Thrones…). He would find another expert, and get all of the information he could out of them. This is why Lyle’s form is one of the best I have seen in a new hand balancer.  Lyle really knows where all of the pieces fit, and puts them together beautifully – but thats not an accident.

Lyle fixed over analysis:  This is what separates Lyle from the masses who try and try but don’t achieve…or the people who get so overwhelmed that they give up.  Lyle was bombarding himself with information.  This helped his form, but destroyed his confidence.  He kept thinking he had “bad habits” that didn’t exist – when he really just needed to know the one thing he should be working on at any given point.  And since I lay this out step by step in The 15-Second Handstand he was able to fix his over analysis and break through his plateau.

Lyle surrounded himself with his heroes: Do you know the #1 predictor of the time of your marriage?  Don’t know?  It when all of your friends are getting married. What about the #1 most effective way to quit smoking? Suddenly surround yourself with non-smokers.  Your environment is a powerful thing.  When Lyle retired, he wanted to learn more acrobatic skills…and he changed his environment.  He sought out acrobats and acroyogis.  He attended seminars for bodyweight fitness and hand balancing.  He emailed me personally to discuss his handstands (and, as I always do, I responded personally back to him). Surrounding yourself with positive people who are a few steps ahead of you is a surefire way to make progress and stay committed.

Lyle found his manual: After banging his head against the wall, Lyle found a step-by-step guide. Let’s be honest, researching what needs to be done is a lot more difficult than following specific, effective instructions…but we can talk ourselves out of anything if there are too many choices or too much uncertainty. The material in The 15-Second Handstand: A Beginner’s Guide took thinking out of the process for him and spoke his language. Lyle had already read a million different resources or ways to get the handstand (which can overwhelm anybody)…but when he found a resource that made sense to him and gave it a solid chance he hit his goal within 8 weeks.  What progress have you made in the last 8 weeks?

Congrats to Lyle on hitting an amazing goal. I know he is already moving onto his next goal and will become even more impressive!!

Do you have any questions for the man?

When will you be sending in YOUR success story? (Seriously, I love success stories, even if you didn’t use my book – send me your story so we can feature you on the site too!)

Start with small commitments.  Just 5-minutes a day to start. You can train the handstand anywhere!

And then celebrate your success, like Lyle!


PS: Of course, I’m proud that Lyle used the materials in The 15-Second Handstand: A Beginner’s Guide to help him succeed on his journey. It spoke his language, laid out things in a step-by-step progression and gave him a blueprint to manage. If you are struggling to learn the handstand, get constantly get overwhelmed or simply want to be more impressive, don’t underestimate the importance of picking a plan that makes sense to you. I don’t care if it’s the The 15-Second Handstand: A Beginner’s Guide or any other plan, as long as you pick one and stick with it!

One Response to “Amazing Lyle: How a Retiree Hit His Handstand Goal”

  1. Ally January 3, 2016 at 1:26 am #

    51 and Overweight and I have a goal to do a handstand again and, if it’s not pushing my luck, walk ten steps on my hands too!