How to Get Into Gymnastics as an Adult
With elite gymnasts often competing in their teens and retiring in their 20s, gymnastics may seem like a sport for the youthful, but it’s really for everyone. If you enter gymnastics as an adult, you likely will not progress as far as you would have if you entered as a child, but you can still improve your strength, flexibility, balance and stamina. Depending on your focus, you can choose a traditional program that includes all the events or a tumbling program that only uses the floor and trampoline. USA Gymnastics, the national governing body of the sport, even has a division for seniors ages 50 and older.
Look for adult classes offered at gymnastics gyms, parks and recreation programs, university programs or even at the YMCA. Generally these classes are for beginners ages 16 or 18 and up.
Ask gymnastics gyms if they participate in the USA Gymnastics program "Gymnastics for All," a gymnastics program tailored to either children or adults, which promotes group gymnastics. As its name suggests, this gymnastics discipline is for all ages. Gymnastics for All includes a non-competitive program for performance as well as a competitive version where gymnasts compete in group floor exercises and group jumps.
Test for a class above beginner level if you’ve had previous gymnastics experience.
Strength train at home or at your gym with weights, weight machines or resistance bands. In gymnastics, it’s important to keep your body proportional, so don’t overdo it on one area, unless you are particularly weak in that area. Practice strengthening exercises such as the supermans and V-ups.
Stretch daily to become more flexible. You can even do this in front of your TV -- working on your splits and your bridge, for example -- once an instructor has taught you how to do these skills with the correct form.
Participate in open gym on the weekends once you’ve learned the basic gymnastics skills and have your coach’s approval. Open gym allows you to work on your trouble areas independently for an inexpensive one-day fee.
Always warm up before beginning gymnastics. Warm muscles are more flexible.
Do not try to learn gymnastics on your own. Not only do you run the risk of injury, but you will also learn bad habits. You need a coach to instruct and correct you on the proper form from how to begin a lunge for a cartwheel to how to keep your hips squared for the splits.
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images