Woodside is one of the most traditional vaulting clubs in the USA, with over 20 years of existence, they were responsible for a few of the most important moments in American vaulting history, such as the bronze medal in team competition last year at the World Championships for Jrs.
In may 2016, the club announced a new head coach, this time, they chose to go for an international hire of not one, but two coaches: Flávia Themudo and Fabian Guida, from Brazil (in fact Fabian is originally from Argentina).
We reached out for them to learn a little bit more about this big change in their lives and their careers. The duo coached several elite teams in Brazil throughout the past 20 years and, most recently, had been working at Clube de Campo de São Paulo, one of the most traditional equestrian venues in the country.
Fabian told us about his career as a vaulting coach, what he expects from his new life in California and his new project as a physiotherapist: A technology that enables coaches to evaluate postural problems and avoid lesions.
- Let’s start from the beginning, please tell us a little bit of how you got to where you are and your experience as a coach and a physiotherapist. What do you think is your biggest strenght as a professional?
I have graduated in physical education with a specialization in methodology of sports coaching and sports psychology. I am also a physiotherapist and I have education in Pilates. I have also achieved a life coach certificate by the International Coaching Federation.
On the vaulting side, I have courses in Germany, Argentina and Brazil.
In the beginning
My journey through vaulting started in 1991, when I took the first course for judges and coaches ministered by Bjorn Ahsbahs in Argentina. That is how I got my credentials to work as a coach.
I was very lucky in the beginning of my career, because I found a job at the German Equestrian Club in Buenos Aires, and that’s where I first started working with vaulting. One of my students was Yanina Alvarez, the current national coach for the Argentinian team.
In 1992 I was invited by the German Federation to take a course in Hohenhameln, which is where modern vaulting was born, so I was absolutely delighted to be there.
The 1994 WEGs
Time passed and in 1994 me, Fernanda Shar and Bjorn Ahsbahs helped the Argentinian team reach 5th place at the World Equestrian Games in Den Hag, The Netherlands, that was a very important mark for the sport in South America. My next adventure as a coach was in 1998 when Esteban Ledesma and I went to the WEGs in Rome.
Love changes everything
It was also in 1998 that I met Flavia Themudo, my wife and mother of my two children. After meeting Flavia my career turned into an international endeavor. I left Argentina and moved to Brazil and started I coaching Flavia and working with her at Clube de Campo de São Paulo (São Paulo’s Country Club). There we created a solid foundation for the 2002 Brazilian National Team, for the first time in Brazil’s history a vaulting squad managed to qualify for the team finals in the World Equestrian Games of Jerez de la Frontera. Flavia also reached the 13th place at the WEGs and until today, no Brazilian female vaulter managed to beat that result.
After that, our vaulting career flourished, and we did all that together: clinics around the world, CVIs and our very own social project (active from 2010 to 2014 and partially funded by the government of São Paulo, the project helped over 100 kids from a underpriviledged community in São Paulo and this writer was actually a teacher there).
The job interview part of the question
I believe that my greatest asset when it comes to my career was the possibility to bring together different points of view. Through courses and different opportunities to learn I managed to create a solid foundation that enables me to see things differently. And that’s something that I’d recommend to anyone anywhere: Never stop learning.
Most of all I consider myself a people’s person. I believe that I learned to motivate and understand people to help them bring the best out of themselves.
2.How do you think you can help Woodside on its goals for the next years to come? What do you expect that your contribution will be?
I think that by taking my experience as a coach and as a physiotherapist, I can contribute to the club in many ways. I believe that the Woodside Vaulters have a lot of potential to grow and you can really expect to see more of us: The best will come in at least two years, which is the minimum time I need to implement my plans and help build different levels vaulting teams.
3. What do you expect out of this change? What brought you to the choice of moving away from Brazil and how did the current political and financial situation in the country contribute to the decision?
Nothing has changed, we expect the same as we always do: We want to grow and keep learning. This change came in a very unexpected way. Last year Woodside Vaulters offered an invitation to come to California and they were very generous because not only I have the possibility of working here, but I can also work outside, give clinics and offer coaching assistance to other clubs in the USA.
And we are not only working with vaulting here, apart from being Woodside’s head coach I still work as a physiotherapist and I have In-Motion.
Brazil is in a very complicated political scenario right now, so the current economic situation did contribute to our decision, but it wasn’t definite. I was thinking about the future of my kids more than anything else.
4. You have been working as an elite vaulting coach for over twenty years. How do you see the sport today in comparison to what it was when you begun?
Vaulting has grown and changed a lot, that is true for the technical aspect, but it is especially true for the artistic point of view. Another important factor is the horse: Horses today have a much bigger importance in the final score and, from my point of view, this is what’s changed the most throughout the past 20 years.
5. Where do you think the sport is heading?
I think that the increase in the number of international competitions, and the fact that now we have PDDs and Juniors is very important. It really enables athletes from around the world to have the opportunity to compete and participate in the international vaulting community.
Here in the USA they have many different levels and possibilities for young vaulters to compete and participate. I think that is a great way to enable the sport to grow.
6. At VaultingNews we like to ask for tips that could help our readers and inspire them to new points of view. As a physiotherapist, what do you think is the best way to avoid lesions and grow inside the sport?
To avoid lesions (and grow in the sport) I find it very important that the athlete has the right muscular equilibrium, especially in the lower body, which translates itself into equilibrium between the antagonist and agonist muscles. I also like to take time on the proprioceptive training. Another good way to increase the equilibrium is strengthening the CORE region (abdomen and back).
Apart from all that, my key work comes with posture analysis. The postural analysis enables us to diagnose problems in our body and movement that can later bring lesions, and also to find out which exercises could help the vaulter strengthen its biomechanics.
That all seems very complicated, but it all means that I believe that understanding the way the body works and what are its postural vices, and weak points helps us prevent problems in the future. In fact, I have recently opened a new company called In-Motion, and we work with postural analysis and biomechanics and other important activities related to health and sports.
We are able to use a software to understand how the body moves and deeply analyze athletes in motion. I love how technology enables us to understand physical activity and movement, but I also like the mix of technology and human knowledge and the potential to bring that to new frontiers of sports and health.
By using human input on the software, I can feed it with information and run an algorithm that helps us understand the postural implications of the athlete and discover points of attention and concern. This kind of material can be very important, if taken seriously and dealt with care by capacitated physiotherapists that has the knowledge to interpret the results. I can say that we can do up to four annual analysis depending on the planning and schedule of the vaulter. We want to reach and help more vaulters across the globe and are trying to create a technology that enables to do this long distance, so anyone who’s interested can contact me for more information: email@example.com or +1 (650) 307-9692
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