Gymnastics -has it moved on since the 80s?!(10 Posts)
My 6 year old is desperate to do gymnastics. She does a school after school club and loves it, following a trip to our local (and bloody brilliantly) gym with school. She is not sporty but is very bendy (I'm hyper mobile so probably in the family) and a natural acrobat so it's probably the perfect sporting activity for her, were there to be one.
I am a 70s baby and grew up on nadia Comaneci, but in the 80s when I did gym, it was riddled with body conscience messaging, and the rumours professionally were of tough, prison like regimes for very young children, deliberate delay of puberty, very strict eating etc. Even at 6/7 I remembering being aware of that sort of thing going on.
Clearly my kids aren't going to be Olympians but I have always sought to avoid gym for my girls because of this overall message. I want them to have unselfconscious fun not self conscious application in their down time. Anyone got any counter evidence to show things have changed and that it's a positive activity for young pre and post- pubescent girls?
I was watching the Europens tonight & it struck me how much more "sturdy" the current set of gymnasts are. I think the new code of points favours stronger more muscular gymnasts. The current set of British & American gymnasts look so fit & strong, not at all emaciated (altough obviously very lean, they look fit & healthy) these girls include Rebecca & Elissa Downey, Claudia Fragapane & Simone Biles. Also gymnasts seem to be getting taller too. It's amazing that counteries who never featured on the world stage such as GB, Switzerland, France, The Netherlands & Italy are now winning medals, while Romania which dominated in the 70s didn't even qualify a team for Rio & can only send 1 gymnast. So to answer your question, gymnastics has progressed so much since the 70s!
We have been to two big gym clubs. Both very high standard. One had an undercurrent of that type of thing going on. Girls super competitive at 6/7 and talking about weight. The other is very high level and has none of it. Lots of muscular for girls. Not all the development squad are tiny and stick thin etc. the recreational gym is fab. I'd say check out different clubs.
I am involved with the gym world and I would say it has changed quite a lot in general.
It really depends on the club - I have worked at some lovely, positive, encouraging and fun ones and I have been to see some that have been frankly horrible environments. There is also normally a long waiting list for good clubs so look around sooner rather than later and get her name down - ask for recommendations too. (someone at school in the older years might have experience of clubs out of school)
I think in general clubs now focus on health rather than skinniness, many will educate children about eating well and eating the right things, there is much less impact on joints due to far far improved apparatus and mats but if it was something she was good at and went on to train more then the training is probably rarely fun, it is hard work, it is like having a full time job as a child, as well as school but in many ways no different to high level training in dancing or some other sports.
Our British team girls are amazingly normal looking close up, they are healthy young women, not little waifs and stays, they have to be strong and fit now to keep up with the demands of the sport.
My 7yo does gym at an intermediate sort of level and loves it. I have seen no sign of what you describe - she has great fun and it has kept her healthy, muscular and fit as a flea. I think gym does still favour the naturally small and flexible, which she is, but that's the nature of the beast I think.
I have to admit that there is an element of image related to having the hair just so and a wide selection of sparkly leotards and scrunchies. DD thinks this is part of the fun, I regret to say. But it's very much in tune with the attraction of 7yo to ridiculously sparkly items. I can live with it.
It is undoubtedly hard work if you get selected for the higher levels of training, but that's a bridge you can cross if/when you come to it. I think if you sign your DD up for a recreational class at a good club she will have a whale of a time.
My daughter is seven and does gymnastics for eight hours a week, I have never had any pressure about her weight or diet, just about her doing her exercises in between times. She is just starting her training for her grades.
I'm a huge gymnastics fan and watch just about every competition that's televised or streamed online. There seems to be a place for all body types in gymnastics these days, but the big scores are coming from the more muscular types who are also very short (World Champion Simone Biles is 4ft 6, as is UK's Claudia Fragapane). I was in the audience at the British Teams event in Glasgow earlier this year and saw some of the top gymnasts in the flesh. They're much shorter than they appear on Tv, and Becky Downie in particular was so muscular she was almost square-shaped.
I love gymnastics, My Dd trained and competed in artistic when she was very young, gave up for a few years then started in acro gymnastics. Her body toned up dramatically within a few very short weeks and her flexibility was awesome within 6 months. Gymnasts who give up in their teens very often slot quickly into other sports because they're so fit and have such good physical control.
I am a level 6 coach and cannot relate to many of the comments.Gymnasts have always had to have muscles I don't know where the idea of tehm being waifs has come from!
Elite gymnasts are small because the laws of physics dictate that shorter limbs make the moves easier to do, so short people are moe likely to be elite, rather than being elite stunting their growth!
Kids can't even compete until the year they turn 8, so I find it very difficult to believe that 6 and 7 year olds are worrying about their weight!
T o be successful at gymnastics, they need to be mentally tough.I work with kids who are literally begging to keep on working through pain because they are so determined to get a skill.
Kids on elite squads do not have to be pushed -they want it bad and if they don't, they wouldn't be on the squad.
I would seriously check with a very good physio whether gymnastics is a good option for your daughter if she is hyper mobile. She could seriously damage her joints. Just because you can bend something doesn't mean that you should.
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