We have all heard of gymnastics but what does taking part in gymnastics really mean for young children. Gymnastics can be defined as a set of skills that involve mastering specific physical movements. Some of these skills involve using equipment that you might have to hold, jump over or swing on. Each gymnastics skill has a name and has to be performed in a certain way if it is to gain the coach and judges approval.
Gymnastics is much more than a pretty leotard
When I mention that my 4 year old daughter goes to a preschool gymnastics class my friends all say “aww I bet she looks cute in a frilly pink leotard”. At this age for a lot of parents gymnastics is a chance to dress up their children and let them have lots of fun tumbling and getting used to being around other children in a structured ‘play environment’.
Soft foam filled shapes of all different colours and sizes cover the recreational gymnastics gymnasium floor as loving mothers and fathers hold their precious gymnasts’ hands while they climb, wobble across a floor beam and giggle their way through several roly-polys.
These fun-filled recreational classes taught me to balance, jump and use my own body to create shapes and complete exciting obstacle courses. I had a lot of fun, learnt to explore and play and began to see my mother in new ways, someone who I knew would protect me while at the same time playing and getting involved in activities on my level.
grew into my love of gymnastics
I first began a proper gymnastics class at the age of 5 and for a shy girl like I was this is a scary place to be. Older children dismounted the bars and sprinted towards the vault at full speed. These big girls towered over me and had an intensity in their eyes that was intimidating. I didn’t wish to be like them yet, I still wanted to hold my mum’s hand and return to the comfort of my recreational gymnastics class.
Gymnastics wasn’t a joy in my life at first but gradually under the care of some lovely coaches and surrounded by many new friends, I began to bond with gym life. As I picked up new skills and climbed up the levels I enjoyed the sense of achievement every time I reached a new goal.
Being a gymnast isn’t easy but if you choose a good gym, spending many hours there each week is made fun because of the energy the coaches put into helping you, with an honest passion and a clear understanding of what gymnastics is about. The friendships and support of the gymnasts growing alongside you will push you past any difficulties and you’ll know that no matter what you have to face in life outside the gym that there will also be somebody willing to help and give you the spirit and courage to achieve your dreams in anything you do.
Written by gymnastics parent and enthusiast Pauline Rothwell from justifyingfun gymnastics