Kids are often encouraged to try lots of different sports and activities as young people, experimenting with different teams and hobbies to see what will stick. As we get older, we realize that activities like parkour or swinging kettlebells are probably not things we’re going to be able to do for very long because of the intense demands these activities place on our bodies. So we learn what we like and what we can do with a certain level of challenge and safety in mind. So should we start the kiddos off with bocce? To quote an old ’80s sitcom immigrant, Balki Bartokomous, “Of course not, don’t be ridicuous!”One of the first activities little ones are attracted to is gymnastics. Swinging from bars, walking precariously across a thin beam, vaulting over high obstacles – face it, they’ve been doing that since they could walk. Tree branches, the sidewalk curb, and the family room sofa have all been part of their daily exercise routine. Gymnastics is a natural extension of the activities they already enjoy. Will they likely be on the pommel horse when they’re 60? No, but what they gain on the journey into gymnastics will be something they retain for a lifetime.
Strength, flexibility, grace, sportsmanship, focus, and determination are key in a young person’s quest to become a gymnast. Improving on one’s personal best to help the team is a valuable quality not only in a gymnast, but in an entrepreneur, a spouse, a parent, and a friend. Having a supportive family and gifted coaches give kids confidence that they can achieve their goals and contribute to the good of the team at the same time. These are skills kids need from the start, and growing up in a safe, playful, and challenging environment will encourage them to stay on the path of an active lifestyle when they are adults.
Providing that safe, playful environment is easy when they’re little. Soft, supportive play mats provide a cushioned, easily cleaned play space for playrooms, basements, and bedrooms. And when formal gymnastics participation becomes a permanent fixture, providing the little athletes with tumbling and incline mats tells them that you take their activity seriously.
She may not be vaulting at age 75 and his iron cross might not have the same form when he’s 60, but gymnastics now will give them tools to help them stay active and fit for the rest of their lives.