Leap. Flip. Twist. Balance.

"Gabby" 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist
"Gabby" 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist
“Gabby” 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist

Gymnastics is an absolutely fascinating sport, and easily one of the oldest.  As far back as 7,000 years ago, Egyptian royalty was treated to watching high flying acrobats for entertainment.  In Ancient Greece, young people would create and perform athletic feats with rules and moves completely made up on their own.  They were encouraged to mix both amusement and physical activity (even back then, they knew sports should have a healthy sense of fun and lightheartedness!). They would spend their time practicing these sports during their “scholarly” period.  Eventually, these activities became common and popular.  In every Greek city there were courtyards specifically designated for running, jumping and wrestling.  In time, after the Roman Empire took over and military training began, the Romans created and introduced what is now the modern day vaulting table.

Coach Rosen Manolov ~ USGA Eugene
Coach Rosen Manolov ~ USGA Eugene

Like with all sports, gymnastics provides a wide variety of mental and physical benefits, along with multiple life skills to learn.  Children who participate in gymnastics tend to have a longer attention span and are better at solving problems and making their own decisions.  They have higher self-esteem, are incredibly independent and know they can make up their own minds without feeling the need to “fit in” and be someone they’re not — generally not allowing others to badly influence them.  They have the confidence not to follow others and be leaders in numerous situations in life.  With the commitment and discipline gained from participating in gymnastics, they’re also a lot less likely to smoke, drink or do drugs and would rather feed their bodies with healthy fuel than fill it with junk.  Their bodies are like their prized possession and will do anything they can to keep it in top shape!

Ian ~ Courtesy of USGA Eugene
Ian ~ Courtesy of USGA Eugene

Gymnastics is a strenuous activity – so much so that it helps you to meet the amount of exercise recommended by the American Heart Association, and is an activity that teaches you to have great control over your body and the way it moves.  It helps develop motor skills, balance and coordination since gymnasts learn over time how to precisely move certain body parts while doing those impressive flips, jumps, twists and tumbles.  Your body benefits from gymnastics internally, as well.  Since gymnastics is such great exercise, it makes you a much healthier person and, as we all know, being healthy helps prevent things such as heart disease, obesity, cancer, asthma and diabetes. Gymnastics has also been proven to help increase bone density since it’s considered a weight bearing activity, and increasing bone density is crucial in preventing osteoporosis when you’re older.

Gymnastics are great for anyone and everyone, but are especially beneficial for children with disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Autism.  Gymnastics instructors tend to work with their students individually, so they can easily tailor the lessons to suit different disabilities while helping each child build confidence and social skills.  At an early age, gymnastics can even open pathways in the brain and help with a child’s reading ability!

Courtesy USGA Eugene
Courtesy USGA Eugene

Children who just want to have fun with gymnastics can still get the great benefits of the sport without having to do gymnastics competitively.  Recreational gymnastics is a fun way for your child to make like-minded friends or spend more time with their parents, depending on the class they take. There are classes for different age groups and skill levels, plus “Mommy and Me” classes for children as young as 18 months who want to bond with their beloved mama!  It’s a great way to become closer and have fun while burning off excess energy. Tumbling is a lot of fun and great for toddlers who want to join in on the gymnastics activities.  What could be better and more amusing for them than rolling around on soft mats while laughing and having fun while making new friends?  It doesn’t matter what age or skill level, any child is more than welcome to join a class and have a great time walking on a balance beam, jumping on the trampoline and playing on the uneven bars.

For those who do want to practice gymnastics competitively, there are plenty of classes to choose from that cater to all ages and skill levels.  They’ll get to learn discipline and find out first hand that hard work and dedication really do make a difference and are worth any sore muscles they may have or any disappointment they may experience!  While making friends and having fun, they’ll learn how to follow directions and wait patiently while others are practicing their moves.  There will most likely be a limited amount of equipment, so this will allow them to learn how to take turns and respect others as they take the time they need to safely and accurately learn their gymnastic moves.  While speaking with their instructors, they’ll get an idea of how to speak with other adults which will help them learn how to speak with all types of people throughout their lives. Since there are very specific rules and codes of conduct, they will learn the importance of safety and taking orders from anyone who is in charge. After all, listening and obeying could always come in handy, or even be life saving!

Villa West Dance  & Aerobatics
Villa West Dance
& Aerobatics

There’s something about gymnastics that is awe inspiring.  Gymnasts have a massive sense of control over their body and the fact that they maintain the ability to focus on what they’re doing – even with a crowd of people watching and cheering them on – is nothing short of impressive.  While jumping on a trampoline, they can manage to twist and turn and perform perfectly while listening to an audience clap and yell and not get distracted.  This kind of concentration is highly beneficial.  Imagine how well those who participate in gymnastics do while taking tests or during job interviews!  What would cause a lot of people to fall apart under pressure is no sweat thanks to years of practicing concentration and learning to focus on what needs to be done.

Have you ever been to one of those beautifully artistic circus shows (Cirque du Soleil my favorite comes to mind), or even just seen the commercials for their upcoming live performance on TV?  Those men and women we see in those circuses who do tricks while hanging on a strip of cloth are practicing what is called Aerial Contortion or Aerial Silk, depending on where you’re from. They make millions of people happy by doing what they love and trained hard for.  It’s an impressive activity and there’s a way for you to experience something similar without needing years of practice.  It’s called Aerial Yoga or Anti Gravity Yoga and it’s a somewhat new way to tone your body while combating cellulite and enhancing your mental abilities and creativity. There are many classes available in countless cities, so enrolling should be a breeze.  Those who already take yoga classes would be particularly interested since it’s basically standard yoga, with the added excitement of being in the air!

Courtesy of USGA ~ Eugene
Courtesy of USGA ~ Eugene

Gymnastics is a fantastic way for adults and children of all ages to learn beneficial skills that will help out in everyday life.  If your child decides to do gymnastics recreationally or competitively, they will learn things like coordination and balance along with discipline and strength – both mental and physical.  These skills along with many others will help aid in their mental, emotional and physical development which will make for a mentally well-rounded, successful and success driven adult.

Ready to flip-twist-leap and get balanced? The United States Gymnastics Academy (USGA) here in Eugene is for kids of all ages and abilities.  Students come for recreation, fun, fitness, self confidences, coordination, social development, competitive training, and overall outlet for all that extra energy.

The important mission at USGA is to develop a students’ positive self-esteem by instilling the values of good sportsmanship, self discipline, respect and accountability.  The staff believe that if they can teach your children that they can achieve, they will remember these lessons for life.  At the USGA, you will find “World Class” Coaches that are enthusiastic and care deeply about developing your child’s self-confidence and sense of achievement.  At USGA watch your child’s confidence grow as they experience many small successes.

The gym area is over 10,000 square feet.  It’s filled with a full line of developmental gymnastics equipment as well as full sets of men’s and women’s apparatus.  Additionally they have several large foam pits to allow students to develop new skills in the safest way possible.

United States Gymnastics Academy ~ Eugene
United States Gymnastics Academy ~ Eugene

USGA offers many great programs eugenegymnastics.com including Zumba for parents who want to get a little exercise. This is a great way to have some fun and get fit at the same time. Don’t forget to ask about their FREE gymnastics classes offer! If you need more info: [email protected]

The USGA is located 4540 Commerce Street (near Wal-Mart west 11th) – Suite B Eugene, OR 97402 – 541-255-2883

Simply ExtraOrdinary Coaching

Dene is the Mom of two active children who are both sports enthusiasts. Dr Dene has been an educator and coached a variety of sports for various ages for over 30 years. She is an active volunteer Kidsports Coach here in Eugene and has served as an Executive Director for local day & overnight camps and mentoring programs for boys & girls. You can find her at drsuccesscoach.com or send an email to [email protected] ~ follow me on Twitter @DrSuccessCoach

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