Within serious training circles, the gymnastic rings are a symbol of supreme strength and skill. In particular, the ability to hold an iron cross, arms thrust perpendicular to your torso, signifies next-level athleticism. It is muscular endurance and development in perfect proportion. To anybody who’s ever tried to support their own bodyweight on the rings for just a few trembling seconds, it seems impossibly difficult.
“For people who don’t know the sport, the classic is the iron cross: everyone thinks that’s the ultimate,” says Courtney Tulloch, the 21-year-old British gymnast and rings specialist who finished sixth in the 2014 World Championships. He’s also two-time winner of the British rings title and a member of the team that won silver at the 2016 European Championships. “Cross is the easiest. It’s the first strength skill that you learn.”
To coincide with our feature on Tulloch in the current issue, Jocks & Nerds contributor David Goldman made a film about the athlete’s training regime.