Finally! The perfect outlet for a daughter’s boundless energy.
I have an incredible daughter, now six, with enough energy to power a city. Never still, she bounces, jumps, hops, and runs continuously. Pyper is high intensity in other ways too– the quintessential “spirited” child.
It’s been difficult finding outlets for her intense energy and high spirits. We tried dance, but while the rest of the class followed the instructor, Pyper did a rendition of Flash Dance and then declared dance “BORING!”
Swimming was also a bust – she spent more time at the side of the pool than in the water. Soccer did engage her, but was only available in the good weather. We needed a sport that Pyper could immerse herself in 12 months of the year. When a new gymnastics club opened in our area, we signed her up!
The perfect fit
It was love at first try for Pyper. She spent the first gymnastics class leaping, rolling and running – all the things her nature demands. She was challenged physically and mentally, and came home grinning from ear to ear! Success at last.
When the coach later suggested that Pyper move into the competitive program, I was a bit hesitant. She was only five years old. I worried about pressure, injuries, and poor body image (something I had long associated with competitive “girls” sports).
But I soon learned that at this club (and in gymnastics generally), athletes do not compete directly against other kids. They encourage and support each other, and celebrate each other’s successes as a team.
As for body image, I was happy to see athletes of all ages and body shapes. The emphasis is on building core body strength, endurance and flexibility for better physical health and to reduce the risk of injury. Healthy eating is encouraged; weight issues are not on the agenda.
So many benefits
Many parents I talk to have good things to say about gymnastics. Lee Higginson signed up her son, age 4, during the winter, to keep him active and entertained. “Sam not only improved his physical health, but also developed better concentration and social skills, like listening and following directions,” says Higginson.
After watching her “once very shy niece develop into an incredibly strong and confident young woman while doing gymnastics,” Theresa Rickerby said yes to her seven-year old daughter’s request to join a club. Three years later, “my daughter and my six year old son are passionately involved in competitive gymnastics,” says Rickerby.
And the benefits are clear. “They are very physically fit and take great pride in their accomplishments,” notes Rickerby. “Their time management and goal setting skills have greatly improved, and they have made good supportive friends. Most of all, they love gymnastics and want their friends to try it out too.”
An amazing difference
It has been a year since Pyper joined the team, and what a transformation! She has found a sport she loves and spends nine hours a week at the gym. Pyper is healthy, and eats and sleeps better. She is able to sit still in class and focus on her work – this has been her best school year yet.
Gymnastics has provided an environment where my little girl has confidence, feels good about herself, and is proud of her strong body.
Erin Croteau is a midwife and mother of two girls.
Choosing a Gymnastics Club
› Talk to other parents about their experiences, and then do your research. Look for:
› A reputable club that is affiliated with Gymnastics Ontario or another governing body
› Up to date coaching certificates, as well as certification in CPR/First Aid
› Approachable staff that take time for you and your child
› A clean, well kept facility (no hygiene or safety issues)
› A nurturing environment with guiding principles that match your own