Urban Gymnastics

Most gymnasts consider gymnastics an end to itself, but for a growing number of them and other athletes, gymnastics is fantastic training for another activity: parkour. Sometimes called “urban gymnastics,” parkour incorporates more gymnastics skills than just about any other sport. There’s no question that you have to be in shape for parkour, and the training of a gymnast gives an athlete a leg up (so to speak) in becoming an accomplished traceur.

Balance is fundamental to a gymnast. Even in toddler tumbling classes, students are made aware of their bodies, how they interact with different apparatus, and how to control them. For the parkour enthusiast, balance could mean the difference between a great run or an injury. Being aware of your body in time and space is crucial to land on a balance beam, hit a vault accurately, or judge the upcoming space between yourself and your destination. Misread, misjudge, or use the wrong amount of force and you’re out of the game. Good balance is crucial and indispensable in both gymnastics and parkour.

Gymnasts are some of the most flexible and agile athletes on any playing field. This serves them well in the gymnastics arena, but translating it into parkour can be a challenge. Routines are often so programmed that the fluidity needed to successfully navigate in parkour can be evasive. Un-learning the expected form (no judges are watching) and giving in to spontaneity will make a good gymnast an excellent traceur.

You don’t have to be a super-hero to leap tall buildings in a single bound – well, maybe not a single bound – but you do need holistic strength. Body-weight training is the preferred method of training; no bulking-up required. But functional training will help increase muscle strength for jumps, flips, and other traditionally gymnastic skills without adding cumbersome and limiting muscle mass.

If you’re interested in parkour, you might want to consider some gymnastics training. It’s not absolutely necessary, but will definitely come in handy when you’re ready to flip off your first wall.

US Women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Team Qualifies for Olympics

For only the second time in history, the US Women’s rhythmic gymnastics team qualified the country for the Olympic Games. Team USA secured the spot in the Games at the Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships this week in Stuttgart, Germany.  Continue reading US Women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Team Qualifies for Olympics

After-School Gymnastics

School bells are ringing all over the country, which means it’s time to switch from a summer schedule to a school schedule. For many kids, this means choosing after-school activities, whether school or club sports, part-time jobs for the older ones, clubs, or other activities. When you’re evaluating your child’s after-school options, keep gymnastics in mind.

It’s true that many kids are over-programmed, being shuttled from one activity to another 5 or 6 days a week. Kids definitely need some down time, but they are also sick and tired of sitting at desks all day long. Even the most engaging classrooms simply can’t give kids the time, space, and structure they need to expend energy and develop physically. This is why gymnastics can be so valuable. A good gymnastics program provides structure in a safe environment, lots of space for uninhibited movement, a positive social setting, and an opportunity to develop both physically and mentally. What more could you ask for from an after-school program?

Kids learn best from playing, and gymnastics has this in spades. Younger kids tumbling around on mats think they’re just having a blast, but they’re really learning muscular control, balance, patience, and how their bodies relate to the world around them. In fact, there are probably a few adults who could benefit from an after-work gymnastics program! After sitting in chairs and on the floor most of the day, children will benefit from a focus on physical activity after school. Gymnastics offers that activity in the form of a structured program designed to progress as the child progresses.

At a good gym, you’ll find experienced instructors who can meet your child where he or she is and help them develop while they’re having fun. Of course, a good gym will also have solid, safe equipment and apparatus for the gymnastics program. Be sure to take a close look at the equipment; it should be in good repair, clean, and in use. These are good indicators that you’re looking at a good program. There should be crash pads everywhere – that’s a good sign that safety is a primary concern. And while the more recognizable apparatus should be visible, look for smaller objects like lower balance beams and bars, skill shapes, and other skill-developing equipment. This tells you that your child will be walked through the learning process at his or her own pace. You may want to consider purchasing some of the practice equipment for use at home, too.

If you find  a gym or club that has all these things, you’ve found a safe, nurturing after-school option that will continue to teach after the school bells have stopped ringing for the day.