Johnny Garcia on How He Comes Up With Freestyle Calisthenics Flows
We spoke with Battle of the Bars champion Johnny Garcia to talk about his mental and physical preparation for competition.
Garcia was in town this past weekend to judge the Chicago Flow Jam freestyle calisthenic competition.
The San Francisco bay area athlete competes this Saturday, Aug. 25 at Battle of the Bars 32 at The FITEXPO in Anaheim, Calif.
THETUSSLE.COM: How do you prepare for a competition?
GARCIA: I think it's every day. I don't think just because I'm doing a competition (then) I'm gonna get ready. The aspect of competition -- you really gotta have a mental mindset that is strong for every little decision that you make. I try to challenge myself every day to not have one decision that I'm disappointing myself in. That way when I'm approaching the bar, my emotions are happy. Approaching competition you should be relaxed, confident, and understanding what you're gonna do. So what I usually like to do is put myself in uncomfortable situations -- like a three-day fast. As soon as I get back from this trip I'm going into a three-day fast. That way when it is comp time by Saturday, I've already been through the worst. Not being able to eat, not being able to go ahead and do what I want. Putting a sacrifice for what you want is really what I do. Visualize, meditate. The comp is a chance for me to show everybody how comfortable I am, and controlled I am, under the stressful situations of the bar. Cause really, if you're having a good time in life, and you know that you got your own back, competition is just a chance to share with everybody how you feel about life. A lot of people forget that. A lot of people are like, "I'm going to beat this guy up." It's not about that. Are you comfortable with what you're doing in your own life so that when you go out there, given the platform, you can show them your joy in your movement, show people control in your movement. Show people fearlessness. So that's my main focus when I compete... just relax. (Laughs.)
THETUSSLE.COM: What's your diet leading up to a competition?
GARCIA: I'm actually pretty rigid when it comes to everyday nutrition. But competition, it's more about, there's no candies, there's no late night snacks. There's that freedom of knowing what you're doing will benefit you that day in competition. My three-day fast coming up is mostly water hydration. I really want my muscles to be fully hydrated before the competition. The next few days after that will be mostly nutrient focused. That way there's a tremendous amount of glucose so that I can go ahead and be ready to compete. The last few days I'll take away a little bit more of the calories so that way I can be a little bit lighter. My goal ultimately is to be present knowing that I didn't have a cheeseburger or any bad meals that can -- when I get on the bar -- I'm feeling guilty or regretful. Those things are what throw you off most in battle. When you go up there -- "Did I remember to send that text message? Or did I send that bill?" Those things throw you off more than the environment. The environment propels you.
THETUSSLE.COM: How do you come up with your flows?
GARCIA: Everybody has created their own style of movement. Just like when you walk. You have maybe a little swag this way or that way. The flow is just: Where do you feel strong? The way I choose my flow is what do people not typically do? A lot of people like to go with the most common combinations they've seen either on Instagram or YouTube or Facebook. For me, it has always been, what's that different style? I like to bring in that b-boy style into my flows. A lot of people like to be fearless and dynamic where they do a lot of flips and tricks. I like to do more of control on bar, moving my feet on the bar, incorporating full body movements. I think that's where my style differs. Coming up with flows is what moves best from one bar to the other, or from one movement to the other. What allows me to have better engagement with the crowd, what allows me to see the judges best. Lastly, what is gonna make an awesome moment for the crowd to remember. A lot of the times that's what wins the battles. Can you do something memorable so that the crowd can go home and (say) "But did you see that!" When I'm sitting down, writing my flows, I'm like, what is going to make them say, "Wow." A lot of times you got to put yourself on the line, but if the crowd likes it, you feel comfortable, you trained for it, and you can do it in a way where you look like you're still in control, why not? That can make a big statement.