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Sports and Outdoor

Gymnastics for kids

Gymnastics is experiencing a bounce in popularity. Leap right in

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© ITP Images

A quick search on Google throws up a medley of gymnastic classes across the UAE, whether your little tumbler wants to turn a cartwheel, balance on a beam or do some fairly impressive moves with a ribbon. It’s clear that gymnastics is thriving, following the spotlight shone on medalists at the Rio Olympics (and those awesome sparkly leotards), with the sport attracting no shortage of kids. With a range of gymnastics genres to choose from, including artistic men’s and women’s, rhythmic, acrobatic, tumbling and trampolining, it can get confusing to decide what to enrol your child in. We asked Lise Slane, owner and head coach at Simply Gymnastics, to break it down for us.

“The various types of gymnastics are very interchangeable,” she explains, “but some suit certain body shapes and natural flexibility. If a child is lean and very bendy, rhythmic gymnastics works well as it is graceful and uses ribbons and balls as aids to add to the tumbles they learn. A strong-bodied child might prefer acro-gymnastics or tumbling. If you have a child who is an all-round sporty type, I’d say artistic gymnastics is perfect as we work on flexibility and strength and learn the four disciplines of women’s artistic gymnastics, which are: floor, vault, uneven bars, and beam.”

With gym enthusiasts listing the many benefits the sport offers for children from the tiniest tots to the most sporty teen, it is no surprise that parents love to see their children involved. After all, it promotes all of the foundation motor skills: balance, strength, flexibility and co-ordination, and as children progress, being a member of a gymnastics club encourages team work, discipline and determination. It may also assist in overcoming a fear of heights, or being upside down and feeling disorientated. According to Slane, “gymnastics provides children with skills they can take into later life and use to enhance their learning skills, academic growth, and is an all-around foundation for any sport or interest they may pursue.” Where do we sign up?
Dhs75 for a one-hour session for children aged 4-11. Classes at Foremarke School, Regent International School and Sunmarke School. www.simplygymnastics.com (055 601 6095).

Do your research
Types of gymnastics

Artistic
Children perform short routines on different apparatus such as the beam and uneven bars. There are two types of artistic gymnastics, one for girls and one for boys. This one builds core strength, balance and stability.

Acrobatic
Children work together and perform acrobatic, dance and tumbling moves, set to music. The routines focus on strength, poise and flexibility. This one is all about working as a team to complete the routine.

Rhythmic
Combining elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation, children use ribbons, balls and hoops as they leap, balance and pirouette. This one is a combinaton of dance and sport.

Tumbling
Combining floorwork and tumbling, this form of gymnastics is practised on a springy track and includes round-offs, somersaults and back-hand springs. A good one for building strength and technique.

By Omer O’Doherty
Time Out Dubai,

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