My own experience of gymnastics is limited to school gym lessons, doing cartwheels and forward rolls in the backyard when I was a kid, and vague images on the telly of that Romanian wonderkid Nadia Comaneci winning gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Gymnastics has a long history, far longer than rugby league and AFL, and stretching as far back as ancient Greek times. Today in Canberra, the sport of gymnastics continues, with gymnastics clubs and programs that will get your kids stretching, tumbling, rolling, balancing and cartwheeling.
Whether we've realized it or not, we've all actually been doing some form of gymnastics. Whether you or your children have tumbled across the floor, or stood on your hands against the wall, or cartwheeled your way across the lawn, or swung on a rope or hung on the monkey bars or balanced on a log, you've actually been doing gymnastics skills.
What gymnastics programs for children are there? Kindergym is the introductory gymnastics program for children aged under 5 years and their caregiver. It's a fun movement program accredited with Gymnastics Australia and involves children (and their caregivers) learning basic gymnastics skills using different gymnastics equipment and circuits. The circuits and equipment usually change every fortnight and have a special theme, for example, transport, winter, Olympic games, music, dinosaurs, Christmas and superheroes.
Once they've finished Kindergym, your child can then progress onto the next gymnastics stages. Your child can even go all the way up to the Australian competitive levels program where they will get the chance to participate in State level or National level competitions.
However, Canberra's gymnastics clubs offer more than just gym programs for children. They also offer adult gym classes, classes for people with special needs, school gym programs, school holiday programs, recreational programs, and even birthday parties.
There are two other centres in Canberra which are not affiliated with Gymnastics Australia but which also offer excellent movement programs for children from babies up to 5 years old. Tots Tumbling is run by the Canberra PCYC in Erindale. Classes are taught by an early childhood educator and teach children social and gross motor skills in a fun environment. And GymbaRoo at Fairbairn offers research-based, neuro-developmental programs for babies up to school-aged children and their parents, with lots of movement involved. My son started gymnastics at GymbaRoo when he had just begun crawling. It was a wonderful introduction with trained, caring teachers and a fun and colourful learning environment.
GymbaRoo at Fairbairn
Whether you are looking for a physical activity to keep the kids occupied or to help them get fit or to help develop their motor and social skills, or even to produce Australia's answer to Nadia Comaneci or simply to have fun, then why not give gymnastics a go?
"I'd rather regret the risks that didn't work out than the chances I didn't take at all"
Simone Biles, American rhythmic gymnast, world champion and Olympic gold medallist