Remember that half-intriguing, half-disturbing video that featured a Russian woman slinging a newborn around like a flesh-colored sack of potatoes? The one where the woman grabs a baby by the ankles and maneuvers it in a manner that would make even the most accomplished baton-twirler a touch envious? If you missed it, you were one of the few. The video went viral and seemed so outlandish that many questioned it’s authenticity. And it was hard to blame the doubters. After all, the woman, Lena Fokina, worked that poor little infant like a stringless Duncan yo-yo.
My friend Nathan Thornburgh saw the video. And Nathan knows a thing or two about Russian culture. He’s been visiting Moscow since 1990. In fact, he writes about Russia for Time Magazine. And he had a hunch that the video was legitimate citing “a Russian obsession with physical hardiness that goes far beyond pictures of Putin fishing topless.” So I suppose it should have come as no surprise when he told me that he had not only verified the video’s authenticity, but had also successfully located and interviewed the baby-twirler, herself.
Personally, it was hard for me to even watch the five-minute clip. I wasn’t alone. Carolyn thought the video looked “less like yoga and more like child abuse.” But watch it, I did, and once I finished viewing, I was left with countless questions. Lucky Nathan got to ask many such questions during his interview with Lena Fokina, which he posted today on DadWagon (incredible site, by the way). One of the first ones?
Is it real or fake?
Oh, it’s real alright. And the fascinating interview sheds light on the practice that Fokina refers to as “dynamic gymnastics.” Far from child abuse, Fokina insists that the practice is extremely beneficial to a little one’s development, both physical and mental. Be that as it may, there were still more questions to be asked, such as:
It looks like [dynamic gymnastics] has to injure the child. Their hands? The cartilage in the joints? Their brains?
Did you know that YouTube took the video down because it was in violation of their policy on “shocking and disgusting” content? What is your response to that?
Have you ever had an accident while swinging around a baby?
To Fokina’s credit, she answered every single one of Nathan’s questions in a no-nonsense kind of way. I highly encourage you to do two things. Watch the video below to see what all the hoopla was about. Then, check the interview out by clicking HERE.
What do you think about baby yoga / dynamic gymnastics? If all the benefits are true, would you practice the technique?
Image: Still from Lena Fokina video with Platona Goryun, who was two-years-old at the time of filming.