Why would gymnastics be overlooked? Well, probably because the television networks spend more time showing girls at gymnastic meets and only a small amount of time on the male gymnasts. Stop and think about it. How much coverage did you see on the men's Olympic team this past year? Don't remember? Probably because it was not during prime time network coverage.
Why should your son be taking gymnastics? Well, we have a lot of ideas that is documented truth and will share about that later. But first let's talk about some of the things that we hear parents say to us about their son being in gymnastics. Some things such as, "We thought is was a sport only for girls." Or, "My boy is not going to wear one of those stretchy leotard things!" Or how about, "Boys can't bend and do splits like girls can!". And, "Gymnastics is a girls sport, not a boys sport!" We encourage you to read on......
Gymnastics originates from the Greek and Roman games. Some articles even say is was used as a form of physical training for the military in ancient Spain. Here is one version of origin we found on the Scholastics.com site for teachers
(https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/history-gymnastics-ancient-greece-modern-times/) . It reads:
"Gymnastics was introduced in early Greek civilization to facilitate bodily development through a series of exercises that included running, jumping, swimming, throwing, wrestling, and weight lifting. Many basic gymnastic events were practiced in some form before the introduction by the Greeks of gymnazein, literally, "to exercise naked." Physical fitness was a highly valued attribute in ancient Greece, and both men and women participated in vigorous gymnastic exercises. The Romans, after conquering Greece, developed the activities into a more formal sport, and they used the gymnasiums to physically prepare their legions for warfare. With the decline of Rome, however, interest in gymnastics dwindled, with tumbling remaining as a form of entertainment."
So, back to why your son should be in gymnastics class. First of all, gymnastics is a great way for your child to develop better physical fitness. It is challenging and never boring, well, maybe a bit boring when they get stuck on a particular skill and feel like they are not going anywhere with the sport. But that is with every sport. Correct?
But a great coach knows how to distract your son from the complaint of boredom with different variations of the drills in learning a new skill. They can make it into a fitness challenge game that you son will enjoy and eventually see improvement from. The coach will track your child's skills and probably even post them on a check off poster for a visual enhancement towards working more to achieve other skill levels!
Besides increasing your child's fitness level, they will also learn other great skills such as balance, spatial awareness, body control, strength of mind and personal commitment.
Gymnastics also teaches all students that a particular skill starts at "X" and ends at "Y", thus also teaching a young child to follow through until they reach the end of the skill situation. Which transfers to being able to complete school assignments and projects! School teachers love having gymnastic students in their classes because of the strict self discipline the student acquires in the training of the body and mind.
Gymnastics as we know it today, is a competitive sport and there are opportunities of being asked to be on teams. One of the major values learned in a gymnastic class or on a team is always working towards your personal best. That when a skill does not work on a particular day, you just keep trying and continue to work towards your goals. If you fall, gymnastics teaches you how to get back up quickly and try again. Once again, a personal skill training that transfers over into school and later in life into the work force. Being able to keep moving forward in life, no mater how many obstacles is a great way to get on a team.
Camaraderie in a gymnastic class seems to be like no other. Instead of your classmates sitting on a bench, maybe checking their cell phones, when you miss a tumbling element, or grab of a bar, in gymnastics the classmates are on the mats working out as well. They encourage with high fives and constant sayings of encouragement to get back up and try again, and again.
Speaking of a bench. There is none! Well, maybe a bench to sit on to take your shoes off or put your warm ups back on, but NO BENCH to sit on when you are training! Even if others in the training have made the team, and your son is still training to make the team, there is NO BENCH and NO SIDELINE in gymnastics class. No waiting and wanting to be able to get on the floor. No wondering if someone gets hurt, will you be chosen to be the one that gets on the floor next. AMAZING! No waiting for something to happen to the better athletes so that your child can go in and continue his training.
"The sport was introduced to the United States by Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent, who taught gymnastics in several U.S. universities about the time of the Civil War, and who is credited with inventing more than 30 pieces of apparatus. Most of the growth of gymnastics in the United States centered on the activities of European immigrants, who introduced the sport in their new cities in the 1880s. Clubs were formed as Turnverein and Sokol groups, and gymnasts were often referred to as "turners." Modern gymnastics excluded some traditional events, such as weight lifting and wrestling, and emphasized form rather than personal rivalry." (Scholastic.com)
Some of the top coaches in the US and the work have been male coaches. And gymnastics for males was in the Olympics forty years before women's gymnastics.
"Men's gymnastics was on the schedule of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and it has been on the Olympic agenda continually since 1924. Olympic gymnastic competition for women began in 1936 with an all-around competition, and in 1952 competition for the separate events was added. In the early Olympic competitions the dominant male gymnasts were from Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Switzerland, the countries where the sport first developed. But by the 1950's, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the Eastern European countries began to produce the leading male and female gymnasts." (Scholastics.com)
What can your son expect when he enters one of our gymnastic classes? The first thing he will notice is a lack of boredom! The next thing he can expect is a lot of movement and activity. New skills are always talked through and demonstrated. There is a warm up, a stretch session to develop better flexibility and then drills that help to build skills and strength. There is time for individual work on the skills each person is trying to achieve. And then there is a cool down and stretch out before the class is dismissed.
Why should your son be taking gymnastics class? Gymnastics is a sport that through the training, your son will develop self discipline, a stronger body and mind positioning, time management, follow through on projects, camaraderie with other classmates, and an understanding that a sport can be part of your life, but is not life. Life is learning that no matter how many times you fall down, you can get yourself up again and again. And gymnastics can help them to learn, see and be that. A person that just not give up on themselves in achieving their life goals.
* Mary Myers is the owner of Academy of Fine Arts in Woodward Oklahoma. She has been coaching gymnastics for 40 years.