WHY should you try Rhythmic Gymnastics?
Ok, we’re biased, we think EVERY child (and adult) should try rhythmic gymnastics! You’ve seen the best gymnasts compete at the Olympics and you think “WOW, that’s amazing, but my kid can’t do that”. You’re right – your child can’t do it YET.
Even after just a few weeks in a rhythmic gymnastics class, kids improve their fitness, strength and flexibility (read the research abstract here).
Not a child anymore? No worries. Rhythmic gymnastics is easily adapted to any age or skill level – click here to check out some of the awesome programs Alberta clubs offer.
Still not sure? Here are 8 Reasons Why You Should Try Rhythmic Gymnastics.
#1: Improve overall fitness and flexibility
Doing rhythmic gymnastics helps build physical proficiency abilities like static and explosive strength, passive and dynamic flexibility, as well as stamina. What rhythmic gymnasts do might look effortless, but it’s not. Rhythmic gymnasts are constantly on the move – leaping, throwing, dancing, even holding a balance takes a lot of energy and strength.
We know there are a lot of misconceptions about rhythmic gymnasts, how they aren’t really athletes because they don’t have the bulging muscles. Well, prepare to be amazed. Check out the Anatomy of a Rhythmic Gymnast video by the Olympic Channel where they analyze fitness measures of one of the top rhythmic gymnasts in the world compared to other top athletes. (Spoiler alert: rhythmic gymnasts are deceptively fit and strong!)
#2: Learn the ABCs of movement
Rhythmic gymnastics is a complicated sport. And also one of the most beautiful sports – and with grace and beauty comes a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
Rhythmic gymnastics builds the ABCs of movement at an early age:
- A is for Agility – the ability to move in multiple directions and at different levels (on the ground, standing height, through the air)
- B is for Balance – we start building strength right from day one, learning how to balance on the feet and hands, as well as the core strength to hold these positions
- C is for Coordination – rhythmics builds perceptual-motor abilities like multi-limb coordination (moving multiple body parts simultaneously or in sequence), aiming, precision and full body coordination (able to do multiple things at once like throwing in a leap)
- S is for Spatial awareness – or proprioception, basically the ability to know where your limbs are in space relative to your body, gymnasts need this skill in order to throw and catch apparatus or roll a ball on their bodies.
All of these are incredibly useful athletic skills not just for RG, but for other sports and even some jobs (like operating a fork-lift).
#3: Learn to move with music
Just like dance, rhythmic gymnasts learn how to move with music. Moving with music engages multiple senses, it improves concentration.
For younger participants, moving with music can mean connecting words with movement (up, down, side to side).
And more importantly, moving with music encourages the development of emotional expression. Learning to express how you feel through movement is a vital component of rhythmic gymnastics and helps kids develop greater awareness of their own feelings.
#4: Exploration and creativity
Creativity is the name of the game in rhythmics. Oh sure, there are some specific skills that we teach, like balances, pivots, leaps and throws, but there are SO many opportunities to explore and create your own.
If you ask 10 kids “how can you balance a ball on your body?” you’ll probably get 10 different ideas. Not many sports inherently give kids the opportunity to create movements that are unique to their own style. In rhythmics, we whole-heartedly embrace it!
#5: Hand-eye coordination of an NHL goalie
Ok, maybe this is a slight exaggeration…or is it? Rhythmic gymnasts develop exceptional hand-eye coordination through multi-tasking like this gymnast below (keep your eyes on the club).
Source: NY Times
In fact, many rhythmic gymnasts find hand-eye coordination a little boring and have found many, many ways to include their arms, legs and feet. Find that hard to believe? Here’s a video of some cool RG tricks that shows what we mean.
When you see RG on TV or live-streamed, it’s mostly high-level competitions like World Championships or the Olympics. At that level, it’s only girls and women that compete. But there are lots of opportunities for inclusion at all levels. In Alberta, many of our clubs offer recreational classes for all genders, ages and abilities. They are always looking for new opportunities to create new programs
For example, in Japan, Men’s RG is huge – check out this video of a Men’s RG group and individual routines. It has both team and individual competition, combining hand-held apparatus with tumbling.
In Spain, different genders compete alongside each other at national level competitions.
And RG has played a significant role in Special Olympics – there are multiple clubs in Alberta that offer programs for participants of all abilities.
#7: Learn to socialize
There is a lot of teamwork that happens in RG and we like to develop this skill early on. We don’t like to spend a lot of time standing around and chatting so we find ways to socialize on the move.
Gymnasts learn to work together in pairs and in groups – moving, playing, creating. And of course throwing apparatus together. Admittedly, it’s a little rough when we start, but learning to aim and to throw in a way that allows your partner to catch are great skills, not just for RG and other team sports, but learning how to use imagination through empathy (how I would I like the ball thrown to me).
#8: Gymnastics for ALL
Ok, we decided to save the best for last…
Did you know at least four Alberta clubs have programs for adults? Coordination, fitness and flexibility are all skills that can be developed at ANY age.
In some sports, travel is limited to a few, just the most elite athletes. But in RG, we see the benefit that travelling to different places can provide.
Of course, competitive gymnasts have opportunities to compete and travel within Alberta, and also to other provinces, the U.S. and some clubs even compete and train in Europe.
But what you might not know is that RG in Alberta has a long history of participating in an event called the World Gymnaestrada. We’ll do our best to describe what it is, but if a picture is worth a 1000 words, then a 2:50 video is even better: check out this video of the 2019 World Gymnaestrada!
This is a huge festival event in Europe that takes place every four years. Recreational, performing and competitive gymnasts, including former Olympians, from all over the world take part – roughly 22,000 participated in the last Gymnaestrada in Dornbirn, Austria! The next World Gymnaestrada is scheduled to be held in Amsterdam, Nederlands in the summer of 2023 - here is the first promo video released for the event!
The focus is entirely on group gymnastics – anywhere from eight to hundreds of gymnasts performing at the same time.
The average age of the gymnasts is… 35. Yep, you read that correctly, 35! This isn’t the pig-tailed Olga Korbut gymnastics your mom grew up with. In fact, some performers are well into either 70s and 80s. This is gymnastics for ALL and it makes no apologies for being big, brash, loud, proud and passionate about gymnastics. Meeting and mixing with people from other countries and cultures, it is 7 days of gymnastics bliss.
But why take our word for it. Check out the programs that Alberta clubs offer and sign your family up today!