Saturday, September 19, 2015

9 Benefits To Gymnastics – Happy Gymnastics Day!

Today is National Gymnastics Day. Now I'm not sure who declared it “National” but it's being promoted by various gymnastics clubs, etc., and on social media to showcase the sport. 

And what a fantastic sport Gymnastics is!


My daughter has been participating in gymnastics for several years now and it's become an integral part of my family's life. 

Here are just 9 of the benefits (I'm sure there are more) of gymnastics:

  • It elicits passion - My daughter loves and is PASSIONATE about it! That desire is something I hope she takes with her throughout her life because, as the saying goes, “if you're passionate about what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.”

  • It promotes physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle – Participating in gymnastics keeps kids physically fit and promotes active living and healthy diets. In our gym, there are kids of all shapes and sizes and every one of them is physically fit.

  • It encourages flexibility and coordination – Gymnasts do well with both static and dynamic balance and learn to fall, hopefully, without injury. Indeed, my daughter falls like a cat, relaxing as she loses control.

  • It promotes self-esteem – The right gym can help an athlete with confidence and a positive attitude. In our gym, no matter how a girl does at a meet, she gets hugs and praise from her coaches (as well as constructive feedback).

  • It teaches them how to deal with disappointment – It's not all rainbows and lollipops at meets. By that I mean, not everyone gets a medal. You have to EARN one. So a child who does not earn one, learns to deal with disappointment, an essential life skill.

  • Teaches Them How To Follow Rules And Accept Criticism – Gymnastics enhances listening skills because if they don't listen, the kids WILL get hurt. They need to learn routines and accept criticism.

  • Teaches them and increases social skills – Gymnastics is an individual and team sport. Kids learn from each other and bond as a team. They learn to work together even as they're being judged separately. It teaches fair play, not to brag, etc. 

  • Encourages commitment, goal setting, and discipline – Gymnastics teaches kids to set goals, work toward those goals, and they get to see how their efforts pay off. 

  • Shows them the importance of family support – Gymnastics is NOT cheap. I've had to go back to work to help pay for it and I'm on the road, driving her, four nights a week. The family attends day-long meets and sometimes we stay in hotels to make sure she's fresh for competition. Allowing her to take gymnastics is a family commitment. 

A few months ago, my husband asked where gymnastics could “take” Lily. Here's what I think:

  • Organization, goal setting, discipline, etc. are skills that are important in business. And honestly, with the social skills she's developing, she'll have no problem with that all-important tool: networking.

  • All of the benefits listed above will make her a well-rounded person and, hopefully, help her throughout her life

  • She could parlay Gymnastics into the fields of Nutrition, Teaching, Sports Medicine, Physical Therapy, Counseling – anything she wants..

Gymnastics is not easy. It's a HUGE commitment! 

 If you're considering letting your child try it, here's my advice:
  • Check out various local gyms. Some are hardcore, pushing kids and demanding attendance up to six days a week. Lily told me long ago she “doesn't want to go the Olympics.” Fine. Our gym doesn't push as hard as others.  It give her time to be a kid, yet challenges her and helps her grow.

  • Ask for a sample class. Make sure your kid really enjoys it before you sign any contracts. Again, this is NOT a cheap sport! 

  • Find out if the gym has a return or cancellation policy in case your athlete decides this isn't the right activity for her. If your daughter gets invited to join a team, pay by the month of at all possible, just in case she decides she doesn't want to to continue.

  • Hold back on buying a lot of leotards and “cutsie” stuff like gym bags and clothes proclaiming “gymnast.” I don't want Lily labeling herself because I think that puts pressure on her. What if she decides to quit the sport? I don't want her to feel like a failure just because she's not a gymnast anymore.

  • Look for leotards at Walmart. I've found bargains for $10, as opposed to buying them at Sports Authority for $40.

  • Know that if you child competes in meets, there are meet fees and admission at the door. (For info on what to bring to competitions, click here.)

I'm happy my daughter does gymnastics. I see all the benefits and know that this is the right sport for her. Would I be disappointed if she quit? Honestly, maybe a little. But the skills she's learning are making her happy now and are positively shaping the woman she's becoming.  

Happy Gymnastics Day!

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