It started with a family holiday and a three year old. As my niece effortlessly popped upright from sitting cross-legged to standing, and my own mini-me mastered the monkey bars, I was struck with how the skills that seem to come so easily to children are increasingly lost as we get older.  Is our waning strength, balance, flexibility and confidence a by-product of our ‘age’, and can we regain our inner child?


So sparked the quest for these ‘Lost Arts’. From nailing the monkey bars to cartwheeling with gleeful abandonment, to riding a bike carefree along the Esplanade and making new friends as easily as a kid in a sandpit, we’ve consulted the experts to get you moving, grooving and playing in no time!




There’s a reason why monkey bars, chin-ups and trapeze rings get harder as we get older. And it’s worse for us mums than dads. “Your power to weight ratio changes, and your hip to shoulder ratio changes,” says Jaime Martin from FUNC. And while men are generally broader and stronger in their upper body, it’s often the reverse for women. Add to this the fact that we don’t tend to hang or hold our own body weight, and it can make a playground staple next to impossible for us to complete.

Keen to start monkeying around? “Core strength gets you across the line,” says Jaime, noting that you’ll need to use your recruitment muscles and your lats to hold your own body weight. She says the only way to do it is to keep doing it. “Practice hanging,” she says. “Bring your shoulders back and down, and don’t just do a dead hang. You’ll need a micro-bend in your elbow and engage your lats – flare them out at the back.” If you’re a gym bunny, lat pull-downs and seated row can help to recruit the right muscle groups and boost your scapular control, but the best equipment is the monkey bars themselves. So get out with the kids and hang!




There’s something about a cartwheel that epitomises freedom. That micro-moment of flying, the head rush of being upside down, even the joyful little hop, skip that comes before you leap. But at some point in our childhood we just stop doing them. And then as adults, the thought of us doing a cartwheel can seem far-fetched. “I’ll crumple like a noodle!”, “I’ll land on my face!”, “I’ll break my neck!”. Or maybe, you’ll nail it and win mega-cred with your kids.

Ready to try? Michelle Young from Gold Coast Gymnastics says the first rule is to play it safe. “When you’re trying something again for the first time, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” she says. So head to a clear area – a park, oval, your backyard, or the beach – where you’re not going to crash into anything. Michelle also notes that Gold Coast Gymnastics offers adult classes where you can regain your strength and flexibility, including a Gymnastics Crossfit session to push your limits.

Once you’re ready to get cartwheeling, Michelle says to follow the advice they give to their junior students – ‘hand, hand, foot, foot’. Break down the move into these simple steps – don’t put both hands down at once and don’t land with both feet together. “Squeeze your body from head to toe and push the ground,” she says. “A cartwheel engages your legs to push off, then your shoulders and arms, down to your wrists, and your core to keep your back straight.”




Haven’t ridden a bike since your teens? Sara Carrigan, Olympic Champion and City of Gold Coast’s Active Travel Ambassador, says your best solution to fix the wobbles is actually in your head.

“Getting back on a bike can be a daunting prospect for most people,” she says. “However, the nervous and anxious feelings usually come from the fear of the unknown. So, by enrolling in a cycling skills course to learn the correct techniques, fear is soon replaced with fun, joy and freedom! Getting going on a bike can be such a magical experience and I love it when people’s eyes are opened up to a whole other world of endorphins, relationships, happiness and feeling alive – the simple act of ‘learning to ride’ turns into so much more!”

The City of Gold Coast offers a range of workshops to get you back on two wheels, including ‘Basic Cycling Skills for Female Riders’ and ‘Get Back on Your Bike’. And if your littlie is ready to start riding a big bike alongside you, book in for the ‘Training Wheels to Two Wheels’ course – a specialist session to teach children aged from four to 10 how to advance from training wheels to two wheels.




Why can kids make instant friends at the park while we struggle for conversation at a networking event? Circumstances such as having a baby, moving, or starting a new job can isolate us from our support group and thrust us out of our comfort zone. And feeling ‘in the spotlight’ can add to our sense of anxiety – from fear of rejection and ‘freezing up’ conversationally, to being perceived poorly or looking silly.

Some basic tips to ‘unfreeze’ you and get you back into the friend zone? Be open to social opportunities , follow your interests (hobbies and passions make great ice-breaker conversation), use your existing network of family and friends to meet new people and really listen to others rather than focusing on your own self-consciousness.



Ready to challenge yourself? Pick a ‘lost art’ from your childhood and set yourself a goal of achieving it this summer. Embrace your inner kid and feel the fun. Your kids will love it too.







Courtney Robinson

Courtney Robinson  

Courtney Robinson is a Gold Coast mum, passionate foodie, whole foods recipe creator and personal trainer certified in holistic digestive health and nutrition. Follow @athletist_ or visit athletist.com.au for recipes, workout tips and training hacks.