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From Party Animal to PCC, Interview with Moo Dath

Moo Dath PCC Shirt Monkey Bars
 
Dragon Door: How did you originally get started in fitness and calisthenics?

Moo Dath: My dad was a coach who trained an Olympian athlete and many Commonwealth Games athletes. So, he expected his son and daughter to be amazing sprinters. Unfortunately, after many years of training with my brother, I gave up at 15 for smoking, drinking, and boys. I had been doing 5Ks every day after school along with my sprint training. While I was ok, I wasn't a great runner. So, I gave it away and basically became a party animal.

The athletics training—and climbing trees and swimming from a young age—basically set me up for life. I’ve always been lean, strong, and athletic, even when I was a party girl. The party years were bad with loads of alcohol, drugs and absolutely no fitness regimen other than snowboarding. While I wasn’t sponsored, I did get free products from shops because I was the chick that would jump off 40-foot cliffs and do really gnarly stuff because I was completely stupid and fearless. I stayed relatively fit even though I was still in party mode with snowboarding and then later wakeboarding every day.

Then I had children and they changed my life a bit—and I was in a pretty bad relationship. While I’d been a drinker before, I became an alcoholic. At age 34, when my kids were two and three, I gave drinking away. I thought it might help mend my relationship, but it didn't. So, the following year I became a single mother. I enrolled my boys in circus school to see if they would like it, but they didn’t want to go back after one term. I started circus at the same time, and 9 years later I was still there.

Moo Dath CircusDragon Door: What did you learn at circus school?

Moo Dath: I started aerial circus on tissue (or silks), trapeze, cloud swing, and a-ring. Working with the aerial equipment was actually quite easy for me because of my background and being strong for my size. So, I was able to pull off the tricks quite easily, though not very gracefully. There was a strength and conditioning class at the circus school and they were doing calisthenics that I had never seen before. I saw the instructor do a muscle-up and it blew my mind. It was so beautiful and graceful—no kips, just a fluid movement of his body through the air and above the bar. I needed to learn it.

A guy named Darren started the calisthenics movement here in Mollymook, Ulladulla, a town of about 20,000 people. He started this little cult of teenage and twenty-something boys. But, it’s the best training for circus because it really nailed what we needed to do. So, I started calisthenics training at the age of 39 and Darren sent us Al and Danny Kavadlo’s videos as examples of things to try and work towards. Unfortunately, about four years ago Darren got injured, but we’ve kept going. Calisthenics made me such a good trapeze artist. I could do things that other people couldn't even think about doing!

But, then I got fat, which was weird because I’d never had a problem with weight before. If anything, I’d been underweight, but because I don't sleep well, my doctor gave me a new pill for both depression and sleep. For a while it was working, and I was actually getting some sleep. But then I started having seizures and gained about fifteen kilos in only two and a half months. My skin got paper thin and I was retaining fluid like I was pregnant. Then I looked at the side effects of the pills—seizures, rapid weight gain, thin skin, and fluid retention!

At 70-odd kilos I was struggling to do trapeze moves—having to lift an extra 10kg above the bar was near impossible. I’d never joined a gym before but felt like I had to go to aerobics classes to get thin. After trying aerobics, I joined a Vinyasa yoga class with inversions and arm balances. After one class I was completely hooked because it was like circus without the ropes. We were upside down, balancing on our hands, and "levitating." Now I’m teaching after three years!
 
Moo Dath Trapeze


Dragon Door: How did you decide to go to the PCC workshop?

Moo Dath: I'd talked to Grace Kavaldo a bit on Instagram, and she made me get on Instagram with a business profile. I was so scared to put myself out there while beginning a new yoga business. While I was a strength and conditioning coach, I hadn't really put myself out there. My main business is making websites—fitness is more of a passion. But, I was launching a new yoga studio and saw Grace’s Instagram challenge about arm balances and knew I could do it—so that was my first post on Instagram. Since then I have become a complete Instagram whore and everything I do during the day is videotaped or photographed! When the PCC came to Australia, I knew I had to go because the Kavadlos were the king and queen of this thing that I've been doing for years! There’s a lot of people doing calisthenics with egos and bad attitudes, but the Kavadlos' egos are in check. They're real, and they understand real people.
 
PCC One Leg Dragon Flag
 
I knew I had to do the course and it was the best money I ever spent. I came away from the course with confidence. While I was the oldest girl there, I was rippin' for an old chick! And after getting PCC certified, people are taking me more seriously as a calisthenics coach—even though I’ve been teaching aerial for eight years. I'm quite a good teacher and I'm really safety conscious, but now I have a certificate and people are taking me a lot more seriously.

Dragon Door: What was the biggest thing you learned at the workshop?

Moo Dath: The progressions and regressions—and to keep in mind that sometimes to move forward, maybe go back. It’s important to work on the move you can do with safe alignment until you're ready to progress. Since the workshop, I’ve been looking at the text book over and over for the progressions and regressions and taking them back to the people I’m training now. So, while they might be able to get their toes to the bar, if it’s not good, we know they’ll need to take it back a step and work on the hollow body hang and taking their knees to their chest.

When I did my yoga teacher training, I realized that I would be a fantastic workshop facilitator because I like teaching alignment and details. I don't teach yoga classes, I teach yoga workshops at my yoga studio at home where there’s space for four people. Because of my circus training, I’m constantly focused on alignment and safety. I can't let anyone go ahead if what they're doing might cause an injury or make them unsafe. At the PCC, I went into teacher mode when people were trying to learn elbow levers or other moves that I've already done and taught. I just love to keep people safe and prevent injury.

Al and Grace delivered it so well. The PCC was like being in a room with friends. You could ask them anything, and they could show you anything. It was such a good group, and we were like one big happy family. We still contact each other and will be friends forever. In Australia we might be hours apart, but are staying in contact with Facebook, Instagram, e-mail and texts.

Dragon Door: What's your favorite move from the PCC?

Moo Dath: I can't do it yet, but my favorite move is the human flag!

Dragon Door: How far along are you?

Moo Dath: About six years ago I managed to pull one off, so I know it’s there. The park doesn't have anywhere to train human flag, so that's been a real bummer. Seeing a static picture of someone in flag is fantastic, but watching someone actually going into it, coming out of it, holding, and doing flutters, the mind just boggles.

Dragon Door: Now that you've done the PCC, what's your next goal or event along with the human flag?

Moo Dath: I have a bucket list for 50: press to handstand, human flag, and a kip glide from gymnastics. I've got two years to pull it off. And I'm looking for a space where I can teach calisthenics classes and also hang aerial equipment. While I have my little yoga studio at home, I get stopped on the street when people recognize me and want to know when I have classes.

At the moment the only place I can teach calisthenics is at an outdoor calisthenics park. If it rains I have to cancel class. So, I am looking for a place where I can open a community circus that would combine yoga, calisthenics, strength and conditioning for athletes, and aerial and ground circus work.
 
Moo Dath Toes On Bar
 
Calisthenics has been really good for me, I've got a couple of classes going each week and I've inspired people. It’s unfortunate that Darren, the guy who originally inspired us, hasn’t been able to come back, but I am hoping to keep his legacy going by inspiring others to get on the bars.

I am also a Menofitness consultant and trainer, and as I age I want to help my peers tackle menopause with the same tools I use. Some of the older women in their 50s and 60s in my group were unable to lift their knees to their chests while hanging from the bar or the rings when they started. Now, ten months later, one of them can already do ten beautiful skin-the-cats. They’re no longer afraid of being upside down, they’re confident with their grip strength, and they know where their bodies can go. Now, one of them is working on her back lever.

I want people to be confident in their bodies when they're 60, 70, or 80 years old. I’m pretty stoked that I can help somebody feel confident with their abilities in their later years.

Moo Dath PCCShirt MonkeyBarsThumbnailMoo Dath, PCC leads classes in South Coast NSW. Contact her through her website www.ulladulla.yoga, email moo@ulladulla.yoga or call +610478606386. Follow her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/ulladullayogaaerialstrength and Facebook: www.facebook.com/ulladullayoga/
 

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