Facts on Gymnastics
Take a Tumble
Gymnastics is a sport that combines tumbling, acrobatics, power and dance to create a routine both difficult to perform and beautiful to watch. There are many different types of gymnastics, including rhythmic dance and trampoline skills. Gymnasts use every muscle group in the body and to perform focused, controlled movements. It requires a strong core and great awareness of how the body moves.
Gymnastics Class is in Session
Many communities have gymnastics clubs or academies available for your child. In addition, may local community centers and YMCA's also offer basic tumbling classes for kids of all ages and skill levels. Visit the gyms in your area to see how the trainers and coaches interact with kids and the kind of skills they teach. Some clubs are geared for the serious gymnast, and the training is regimented to get the athletes ready for competition. Others classes are just for fun and exercise. Look for classes with you needs in mind and choose the program that suits you or your child best.
Inside the Gym
Gymnasiums are usually equipped with balance beams, uneven bars, vaults, rings, parallel bars and horses. Each piece of equipment focuses on a specific set of skills and requires different strengths from a gymnast. The rings and the horse use the upper-body power almost exclusively, while the balance beam requires lower-body strength. The floor is an whole-body workout. Where each piece of equipment is set up, gymnastic mats cover the surrounding floor. Gymnastic mats are created specifically to absorb the impact of a gymnast during landing or a fall.
Gymnasts Does a Body Good
Gymnastics training can be demanding on competitive athletes, but it does build a healthy body. Learning gymnastics means learning how your body moves and how to control those movements with precision. Power and strength are combined with speed, flexibility and balance to make a fit athlete. The smallest children are taught gymnastics skills in age-appropriate ways, and great detail is paid to how their bodies grow to protect them from injury. Teens benefit from gymnastics, and it's often recommended for high school athletes so they can learn how to control their motions. Adults can benefit from gymnastics exercises as well. You may never be an Olympian, but you can be fit and healthy.
From Petite to Elite
A gymnastics level is defined by a set of skills a gymnast must learn to perform with grace and accuracy. Once a gymnast can routinely perform a set skills at one level, she moves up and begins training in the next level. A gymnast's level determines which competitions he's eligible to compete in. Toddlers are taught at the Petite Level, which focuses more on fun than skill performance. The most recognized level of gymnastics is the Elite Level, which is the standard Olympians are held to.
- Motoyuki Kobayashi/Digital Vision/Getty Images