Gymnastics is a modern sport that focuses on coordination, agility and strength whereby ‘gymnasts’ perform acrobatics jumps, leaps and perform on equipment such as ropes, beams and vaults. Adult gymnastics, in popular events including the Olympics, is a competitive sport determined on the gymnast's ability to display coordination, technical control, strength and balance.
There are three main types of gymnastics including: artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline.
Artistic gymnastics (the most common type) is where gymnasts perform short routines on different apparatus such as parallel bars, balance beam, floor or vault.
Rhythmic gymnasts is whereby one or more performers combine dance routine and use apparatus such as rope or ribbon and is judged competitively on coordination and aesthetics.
Trampoline gymnastics is more of an aerodynamic sport where the trampolinist performs complicated twists, turns, tucks and somersaults while jumping.
Although all these types are competitive sports for adults, kids can get involved at an early age.
All kids love learning how to do cartwheels and doing headstands, even toddlers love physical play and there are plenty of classes around Ireland that start lessons for three years and up. For young kids, emphasis in these beginner classes is based on fun with lots of forward and backward rolling, headstands using kids sized apparatus and generally based around games and music.
During lessons, kids learn how to warm-up properly and also begin to understand key elements of the sport including flexibility, balance and control and body awareness.
As children progress in age and ability classes then vary. Once the basics are learned, kids can begin to develop technique practicing on the various apparatus used such as the balance beams or vault. Typically, as kids progress classes are divided into male and female as different mode of apparatus is used. For boys, horizontal bars, rings and horse are performed on and girls focus on floor exercises, balance beams and vault. However with both genders the emphasis is on a full aerobic workout.
Parkour or freerunning, which uses elements of gymnastics to run over ground in the most efficient way, has also become extremely popular amongst teens in recent years and gymnastic schools are also offering classes to teens interested in this developing sport.
Gymnastics is a challenging and competitive sport where kids can learn how to achieve goals and overcome fears; it builds determination and self discipline.
If you are interested in finding more about this sport there are many accredited and certified instructors clubs and classes around Ireland.