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is boys gymnastics safe?

(14 Posts)
ladycalledstan Sat 27-Dec-14 19:37:54

I am thinking of starting ds2 aged 4 at gymnastics. There are 2 local-ish clubs that do it. One does a general class for beginners boys in with girls and the kids work through BGA badges all together, beam, vault and floor (I think).

The other class seems more professional and (I think) splits the boys and girls from the start. As well as the vault and floor the boys do pommel horse, bars and rings. Dangling from rings aged 4! I am just a bit alarmed by this that is could cause strains in the arm muscles for such young children. I know I could ask the gym but I'm sure they will say it's safe. So I just wanted to ask opinions of any mumsnetters who know about gym!

TIA

MrsTawdry Sat 27-Dec-14 23:27:38

What has his being a boy got to do with anything? I did gymnastics along with boys from the age of 4 to 15 and both my DDs began aged 4. There are boys in their classes.

Mistigri Sun 28-Dec-14 00:04:44

My DS does gymnastics in a boys' competition group with some very young gymnasts, although his trainer doesn't take them until 5/6. They use all the apparatus including rings, pommel horse etc and train separately from the girls (who obviously do not train on the same apparatus - I'm not sure why the previous poster finds this so surprising).

I think it's perfectly safe with qualified trainers. It's mostly exercise against body weight, which is the type of activity children do naturally when they climb and swing. DS's trainer has the older boys in the group use light ankle weights during training but this is done sensibly and progressively and not with the littlest ones. Specific aids are used to help them on some apparatus for eg initial work on the pommel horse is done on a low "mushroom" shaped apparatus with feet supported in a bucket hung from the ceiling!

ladycalledstan Sun 28-Dec-14 19:35:37

Thanks for replies! Mistigri your post is very reassuring. I expect ds won't be up to much to start with anyway - I was just nervous he'd be expected to really strain himself (not what I want at all - just doing gym for fun really).
If I can ask how old is your ds and how long does he train for a week and what sort of competitions does he do? Just interested in what sort of thing children can get up to in gymnastics if they are really good!

Micah Sun 28-Dec-14 19:42:58

He's 4. He should be having fun, learning to hang, climb, and jump. A good club will focus on building his strength and body awareness before they even start basic skills like cartwheels.

children can't compete outside their own club until they are 6. Depending on your region, they don't compete more than floor and vault until they're 8.

Boys hours aren't usually as insane as early as girls (girls need to pack a lot in before puberty slows them down, boys need to wait for puberty when there's a big increase in strength). If he's good and selected for squad you are probably looking at between 9-12 hours a week until he's 10 ish, then more as he develops.

Mistigri Sun 28-Dec-14 21:27:05

I also think that even in a "serious" club they will not start working on the apparatus at 4. At my son's club the little ones do a "fun" gym class and then at 5/6 they move up, either to a mixed beginners group, where most of the work is on floor, vault and trampoline, or to a pre-competition group where training on specific men's apparatus begins.

My DS is 11 and just starting to compete on all six apparatus, although tbh he is never going to be a top level competitive gymnast and he does it purely for fun. He does 6-8 hours a week if he attends all the sessions. It's a good sport for general conditioning, flexibility, balance etc, and a good complement to other sporting activities (DS also cycles competitively).

5madthings Sun 28-Dec-14 21:29:14

My dd goes to gymnastics, it's a taught class bit parents stay with their child. They do indeed use the rings and bars etc and lots of floor equipment, it's all supervised and they are helped if necessary.

Ita great my daughter loves it and it's really helped her confidence in her physical abilities smile

KosmoKramer Sun 28-Dec-14 21:48:26

My DS is 9. He is an elite gymnast and has suffered two doubly-broken arms in 1 year...one falling from the Pommel and one tumbling.

It is a stressful sport (on the bones) simply because he was training 25 hors each week. There's a risk involved at this level. Recreational gym is less impacting as they train simply a few hors per week.

DS has moved into another sport whilst his armis pinned into place. I doubt he'll be able to return to gym.

KosmoKramer Sun 28-Dec-14 21:49:26

Hours. Apologies for crap typing.

uggmum Sun 28-Dec-14 22:01:08

My ds has been going gymnastics since he was 4 and has been at a club since he was 6.

Ds is a tumbler. It can be dangerous and a few of his friends have broken bones.

My ds takes it seriously and follows the rules. But accidents can happen.

Gymnastics is a great sport. My ds is super fit and competes regularly. He has a good friendship group too. At club level it is time consuming. He trains for 14 hours a week. But he is currently British and Yorkshire champion for his age and level.

SolomanDaisy Sun 28-Dec-14 22:05:03

My DS goes to a preschool gym class and they start playing on the rings at two! Kids are always dangling off stuff at playgrounds, I don't think it's much different to that at this age.

Mistigri Sun 28-Dec-14 22:36:57

Most sports involve some risk, especially at more elite levels and especially in sports involving some element of acrobatics. It depends what you're prepared to accept (my DS's other sport is BMX racing, so gym - at his current level - is rather tame in comparison).

However, a four year old isn't going to be exposed to any significant risk in a well run club!!!

ladycalledstan Mon 29-Dec-14 20:23:09

Thanks all for the replies! I'm impressed by the people with the really dedicated gymnasts doing loads of hours a week - can't really imagine either of my dc being so focused but they are still just babies really.
I think we will go for the club which has pommel horse etc then as they seem most professional and you've reassured me ds unlike to strain himself.

ReallyTired Sat 03-Jan-15 16:49:36

Dangling on the rings for boys or the paralell bars for girls happens early. It is much safer than the park as many clubs have a foam pit underneath. Building upper body strength in children helps with fine motor skills as well as being the basis for gym.

Gym can be done at all kinds of levels. Dd does 1 hour a week at the age of five. She has no desire to do gym competitively. 95% of children are not squad material, but they gain other benefits from doing gym.

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