Growing up, I didn’t play an instrument and I wasn’t on a soccer team (well there are actually pictures of me in a soccer uniform but I have absolutely no memory of this). I did gymnastics and I did it A LOT. It started out as fun tumbling classes and eventually I made the team and started competing. Let me go ahead and put out there I was in no way on the road to an Olympic dream. But I LOVED it. My favorite apparatus were bars and beam – even though I scored highest on vault. The floor and I were never friends (I’m not a fan of tumbling). Eventually I got to high school and thought it would be cooler to be a cheerleader since they get attention at school. Eventually I went off to college and after several injuries (and one spinal surgery later) I stopped. I lost probably 75% of the flexibility in my low back after my surgery and it’s taken the past few years of physical therapy, exercise, and yoga to gain any of that flexibility back.
This week, (12+ years later) I had a chance to go to an adult gymnastics class with a friend of mine and fellow former gymnast and we had a BLAST. The class was led by this hilarious 70 year old coach and there were about 15 guys and gals there. There were all levels in the class including many beginners. We started on the floor with stretching then floor warm ups, then did several passes on the trampolines. After that we did some passes on the vault (side note: what happened to the horse???) then had 30 minutes of open gym. We got to play on the bars and beams and it brought back so many memories and was a really great time. Unfortunately, my back is killing me today and I don’t think i’ll be able to keep going. (Super frustrating when it’s pain and not just soreness that keep you from something you enjoy.) This was a great opportunity for me to reflect on a sport that brought me years of happiness and how it helped shape who I am.
- It kept me fit. When you are in the gym several hours a day and several days a week you get STRONG. I also got out a lot of energy which I’m sure made my mom happy 🙂
- I had friends and a community. I spent more time with my coach and team mates than my own family sometimes. We’d have sleepovers so we could hang out even when we weren’t at they gym. Most of my best friends growing up were from gymnastics.
- I have incredible balance and have maintained most of my flexibility. Both of this things will keep you healthy! Thankfully, I didn’t inherit my mom’s klutziness 😉
- I learned goal setting and how to work hard. Gymnastics is divided into levels and you reach each level after you master a certain set of skills. Even though I didn’t make it to level 10 and become an elite gymnast, I learned how important it is to layout a plan to achieve your goals.
- I gained self confidence. Have you ever pranced around a gym full of people in your underwear? Well that’s how you feel the first time you wear a leotard! You also have judges watching your every move and grading your every movement. It’s pretty life changing, especially for a skinny, glasses wearing young girl. But from this I learned the self confidence that makes me the strong woman I am today. In the gym, you have coaches there to spot you and to teach you but you also learn to trust yourself.
Gymnastics taught me so much and was such a big and important part of my life. I think everyone should try gymnastics – children and adults! Give it a try – even if you never have before. The class I found was at the Houston Gymnastics Center and only $60 for a 4 class pass. Do you have a sport that changed your life? Have you ever tried gymnastics? Let me know!