Bouncy bouncy bouncy
I took gymnastics when I was about three or four. It was the kind of basic, no-pressure kiddie class that D is in now. I stopped by the time I was five, and never gave gymnastics another thought. I couldn’t even do handstands or cartwheels as a kid/tween, even those most of the other kids could. I was totally uncoordinated, and sports/physical activity didn’t interest me in the slightest.
D (age three) is in his second year of gymnastics, and he loves it. It’s perfect for him, because (A) he’s really coordinated, and (B) he has lots of energy to burn.
Towards the end of his class last year, someone told me they had an open session for adults once a week. At first I was like WHAAAAT you couldn’t possibly mean ME. But then I thought “Trampolines???” and suddenly I was showing up. Every week.
During the 90-minute session, we did 30 minutes or so of warming up and conditioning — jumping jacks, sprinting, PANT PANT PANT — which was kind of exhausting for my totally-not-in-shape self. Then we were turned loose in the gym, and got to do whatever we wanted. I mostly just bounced like mad on the trampolines, but I also made a big effort to steer clear of whatever the “real” gymnasts were doing — because wow, a lot of these adults were former and CURRENT (!) GYMNASTS and this was SERIOUS TO THEM. They weren’t just here to bounce, y’all.
Oh, and a lot of them were 17. There’s nothing like seeing a toned, agile 17-year-old in a unitard to make your 29-year-old self wince.
|Me, after one of the open gym sessions last year
This year, the gym decided to offer a class for adults — specially, adults like me who were intimidated by the swarm of current/former gymnasts in the open session. So I immediately signed up, along with a few other mom-types who also wanted to get some exercise and do something new.
I’ve been loving the class, guys. It kicks my butt, but that’s a good thing. Our coach (oooh, it makes me sound so GYMNAST-Y to say “coach”) runs us through a warm-up (jogging, sprints, jumping jacks, skipping) and then we all move around to different areas of the gym.
- Parallel bars: Ow. We don’t do crazy flips and stand on them (actually, some of the better people in my class do!). I mainly just hang on them, and tuck up my legs, or have to swing them out to the slide. Ow. Ow. Ow. Hanging there, holding up my weight, KILLS my hands (which apparently are soft and not-calloused and that’s how I’d like to keep them thankyouverymuch)
- Floor: I love the bouncy feeling of a gymnastics floor. I just start bouncing up and down lightly whenever I stand on it. It’s irresistible! During our floor time, we do handstands (I try), cartwheels (I try), summersaults down or up a wedge, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, hopping on one foot, sprints, etc. The floor at our club is pretty grotty and smelly when you get up close to it, but when you’re exhausted, you don’t care. You lay face-down on it and it’s the most comfortable place EVER.
- Balance beams: I do like beams, because I can see my balance improving every week. We walk along them and do “dips” (dipping our legs down below the beam gracefully as we walk), kicks, little jaunty steppity-step things, tiny jumps (well, mine are tiny at least), cat leaps, and walking backwards. There’s something about pointing your toes while holding out your arms for balance that makes you feel very Olympian-y, at least in my books.
- Double-mini trampoline: This is a great one! It’s very bouncy. We run up to it and do one or two jumps on it, and then do a leap-forward somersault off it, onto the mat.
- Tumble Track: This is what the “tumblers” (a.k.a. Young Agile Flippers and Twisters) use for their tricks. I enjoy running down it as fast as I can and then throwing myself onto a mat. Everyone laughs at me, but it’s really fun. Oh, and we also use it for bouncing down in a row (practicing to point our toes), doing donkey-kicks (hideously unflattering crawl-type kicks), and doing tuck jumps. My tuck is a pretty sad attempt, so far, but it’s coming along.
- Vault: I look nothing like the gymnast in this picture, of course, but we do use a vault in our own way. It’s basically running really fast, bouncing one on a little trampoline, and then jumping up onto the vault and landing on both feet, and then somersaulting onto a crash mat after it.
We move between all of the areas throughout the class, and then finish up on the floor doing our final conditioning (crunches, Russian twists, stuff on a balance ball, etc.). It’s a very busy 90 minutes!
Other than my terrible, terrible coordination, the hardest part for me is my dizziness. Every time I do a somersault or turn upside down in any way, the whole world spins and it takes me about 20 seconds to recover. After eight or so weeks in the class, it’s not getting any better. I’m one of those people who can’t do spinny rides (even a ferris wheel!) so it’s not a big shock. It’s annoying, though, because you feel absolutely awful for those 20 seconds. Every. Single. Time.
And then I come home and eat peanut butter.
Every. Single. Time.
|Post-gymnastics peanut butter FTW!
We only have three more classes left of this session, and I’m definitely going to sign up for the next one (which will start in January). I have no desire to do a cartwheel or handstand (nor do I think I EVER COULD), but I love bouncing, I love feeling like I’m improving my balance, and the conditioning is brutal/awesome.
What do you think? Is “adult gymnastics” something you’d try? Or should I just buy a trampoline and get my bouncing out of my system in the comfort of my own backyard?