By Veronica Bellamy & Elaine Winter
Why should my child practice gymnastics? S/He has no interest in competing and already has such a busy schedule… At Discovery, we hear this question often. And we witness with equal frequency, that once a child has sampled a program, they’re likely to continue even well into their high school years.
First, a clarification: Today there exist two designations for gymnastics: recreational and competitive. Most of us are familiar with the field of competitive gymnastics. We may be glued to gymnastics events in the Summer Olympics, dazzled by young gymnasts’ heart-stopping feats. And we can’t even begin to imagine the levels of hard work, perseverance and commitment, let alone innate talent, required to make this possible.
Recreational gymnastics on the other hand, is less of a spectator sport and, as a result, is often less well understood. For starters, the label recreational seems to say “just for fun” gymnastics: a pleasurable activity free of serious effort and goal setting. In reality, it is both highly pleasurable and highly demanding, personally challenging and deeply rewarding. Recreational gymnastics is a whole body and whole child pursuit in which effort, achievement and companionship are their own very powerful rewards.
Our focus at Discovery is the recreational brand of gymnastics aimed at skill and confidence building, along with overall fitness and fun. DP coaches nurture a respect for the sport itself and encourage both physical and emotional stamina and resilience. Each class begins with a warm-up, followed by small-group rotations. Groups are ability-based and easily shift according to each gymnast’s individual progress. Instruction includes all of the recognized Olympic areas – the bar, beam, floor and vault, as well as the trampoline.
Recreational gymnastics offers important benefits to children young and old. Among these are:
- Overall body development, fitness and health
- Increased flexibility, strength, power, speed, agility, coordination, and sense of balance
- Physical stamina
- Enhanced self-image
- Sense of genuine achievement and progress
- Willingness to take appropriate risks
- Release of tension
In addition, here is a short list of Discovery FAQs:
- At what age should my child begin gymnastics? Discovery Programs offers a series of developmentally attuned gymnastics classes, including: Baby Gym, Gym for Tots, Gymnastics and All Star Gymnastics. Our youngest participants are six month olds who share the fun with their parents.
- Can boys participate as well? Yes! In fact our coed and boys gymnastics classes are lively, fun and well-attended.
- What exactly is Baby Gym? Baby Gym provides parents and their babies a unique opportunity to bond with each other as they roll, stretch, bounce and laugh together.
- Are there different levels in gymnastics? Discovery follows the official United States Gymnastics Federation’s recommended proficiency requirements. Once a gymnast achieves a solid level of competency in a particular area, they advance to the next level of challenge. This acknowledgement is handled discreetly, with recognition but without fanfare.
- What are the All Star classes? This is an invitational, advanced level girls’ gymnastics program. Participants commit to a minimum of two two-hour classes per week.
- What makes Discovery’s gymnastics program unique? Discovery Gymnastics is taught by coaches who not only are former competitive gymnasts and instructors, but are also certified by the US Association of Gymnastics. The Discovery gym itself is one of the largest and possibly the best equipped gym in upper Manhattan. Not only is it completely padded and “no-bump”, but the equipment can be easily rotated and repositioned to fit each age and skill level.
Thank you for your interest in learning more about gymnastics!
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to observe or sample a class.
the Discovery Gym Staff