BENEFITS OF GYMNASTICS
What child hasn't been told to eat their vegetables so they can grow up and be 'big and strong'? While nutrition is a key component of building healthy bodies, it is not the whole story. Children's bodies need to move, and be tested in order for them to achieve optimum health. Gymnastics is an ideal way for them to do this, as it uses their own body weight and gravity as resistance. Handstands, cartwheels, rolls, bar work, vaulting, balancing and bouncing all work to build strength for dynamic activities, as well as core strength for balance and control.
Flexibility is essentially the ability to move. Each muscle group has a range of possible motion. With increased flexibility, we are able to take advantage of that full range of motion. In gymnastics, children stretch and move in a variety of ways, freeing up their various muscle groups. Increased flexibility also aids in injury prevention. A stretched, flexible muscle is less likely to strain or tear.
Weight-bearing activity is strongly encouraged by the CDC for bone health, as it promotes increased bone density. This is especially important for young people. As we age, we stop building bone mass, and eventually begin to lose a little each year. Building strong, dense bones in our youth offers great protection throughout our lives. Gymnastics is a fun, healthy way to learn a variety of weight-bearing skills, and increase bone density and strength.
Fit Healthy Bodies
According to the CDC, (see link) childhood obesity is one of our top health concerns in this country. Children who suffer from obesity are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease, asthma, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes. Obese children are also more likely to struggle with weight into their adult lives. Being involved in a fun, active, challenging physical activity is part of the healthy lifestyle required to combat obesity and its related health issues. Currently many of our schools have limited or no physical education, and far too many of our children spend their spare time in front of video games, televisions, and computers. Current guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 times a week, as well as flexibility activities one each week and weight-bearing activity 3 times each week to promote healthy hearts, lungs, bones, and muscles. Each gymnastics class at Go For It USA includes cardio, strength, and flexibility activities, and is a great way to not only add these activities to a child's routine, but also teach them healthy habits which can follow them for a lifetime.
Recent studies suggest physical activity helps to build connections in the brain. Gymnastics is a sport that requires focus, concentration, an understanding of the skill being attempted, body-awareness, and a variety of other thinking processes. Gymnasts are not just exercising their bodies – they are exercising their minds! Focus, discipline, determination, and problem-solving are all part of the gymnastics experience, and each of these skills are incredibly useful in a classroom setting as well. Many of our gymnasts are straight A students, even with the sometimes lengthy hours they spend in the gym. The lessons learned at the gym serve them well.
In addition to learning to practice and work with others in the gym, gymnasts also learn how to encourage each other. From the pre-schooler learning to take turns, receive and follow instructions from someone who is ‘not the Mommy’, and follow a simple series of steps, to the competitive gymnast who is learning how to practice good sportsmanship, learn from his or her own mistakes and triumphs as well as those of other members of the team, encourage team members, and work with teammates even and especially when the going gets tough… social lessons are everywhere in the gym! Each of these lessons translates to the world in general and gives our children skills that will serve them well as they grow into responsible, successful adults.
Nothing builds confidence quite like wondering if we can do something, and finding out we can. The harder we work for it, the more meaningful and lasting the feeling of success. Gymnastics offers repeated opportunities to succeed at a higher and higher level, constantly challenging the athlete, and constantly rewarding those who rise to the challenge. With coaches dedicated to assisting your child in facing each challenge as it comes, we are in the confidence-building business!
Reduce Risky Behaviors
Fact is, gymnasts are busy! They just don't have time to spend too many hours in front of the TV, computer, or video games, or to allow boredom to dictate their decision-making. Not only that, physically active kids are far less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. Having a positive, constructive outlet for their energies helps children greatly in making the right choices at the right times to achieve the dreams and goals they hold for themselves.
You may have noticed the Character signs around the gym, and the motivational posters. They are more than decoration. Character education is part of every class. At every age, we emphasize responsibility, caring, respect, trustworthiness, citizenship, and fairness. We also teach children how to work hard, and how wonderful the reward is for it. We show them how to pick themselves up when they fall, and teach them that their very best effort is its own reward. Children learn that perfectionism can bring them to a frozen stand-still, but a willingness and eagerness to learn and try their hardest will take them farther than they ever imagined. We show children dreams are more than the stuff of Disney – they are real and possible when you conceive them, and then have the willingness to work for them. We teach them that we do not achieve anything alone, but with the input, support, and love of others. In short, yes we are in the business of building healthy bodies, and excellent gymnasts… but we are also very much in the business of building strong, healthy, confident, people with amazing tools to carry them wherever they choose to go in life. What greater benefit could there possibly be?