Gynmastics Olympics For So Few, Benefits For So Many
I just returned from the USA Gymnastics Annual Conference, which coincided with Olympic Team Trials; meets that furthered the selection process for the mens and womens U.S. Olympic team. I attended seminars on preschool gymnastics, special needs gymnastic classes, fitness for middle school boys, methods for building abdominal strength, and teaching cartwheels. Recently someone asked me, “Is gymnastics still like it used to be?” The inflection told me that the underlying question was whether young girls were being pushed too hard. The questioner also commented that her daughter had taken a class but was too tall to be a gymnast. Both questions made me realize that public perception is very different from my belief in the value of gymnastics.
Gymnastics builds total body strength, awareness, and flexibility, as well as, hand-eye coordination, which creates a great base for any sport. At a time when childrens obesity is perpetually in the news, gymnastics offers a fun activity that gets young children interested in moving. When kids are confident with physical activity, it becomes appealing and an antidote to hours of screen time.
Gymnastics classes can teach the timid child to move, jump and climb and the resulting confidence is striking. For the more adventurous child, what more extreme sport could anyone imagine than flipping and twisting ones body in the air over a 4″ board from which one takes off and lands. Gymnastics blends strength and grace with unparalleled concentration.
Gymnastics is a disciplined sport that teaches body awareness, builds strength, flexibility, and allows one to see the results of hard work. These attributes of gymnastics make it useful while a youth is in the sport and carry over into their lives after participating. Gymnastics builds the competence a child uses to play confidently on the playground and enhances reading and academic skills hardly a waste of time and effort. As kids grow and find the sport that appeals to them the most, their gymnastics training offers a solid base.
The USA Gymnastics conference featured many gym owners around the country who focus on building programs for preschoolers, teaching gymnastics to youth in a manner sensitive to learning styles, and having fun along with strength and skill building. Gymnastics was developed as a method of fitness training and it deserves to be recognized as viable activity for any child.
When you watch the Olympics in August, be proud of the U.S. Olympic gymnasts. They are strong and graceful athletes with tremendous talent and work ethic. Their sport commands as much effort as any other sport but doesnt come with the mega-million contracts of football, basketball and baseball. If Olympic gymnastics fascinates your child, sign them up for a class. Look for a gym with a solid instructional program blended with fun. Remember that while only a few realize their Olympic dreams, many youth benefit from their gymnastics training.