Recreational Gymnastics: Take the leap to become the best athlete you can be!
Thinking about enrolling in a gymnastics class? Here are some key things to know about recreational gymnastics…
Recreational gymnastics is a great opportunity to introduce your child to gymnastics. Recreational gymnastics is non-competitive and traditionally broken up into age groups and divided by skill level. Most recreational classes range from 45 minutes to 1 hour in length.
Once your child has completed a trial class and/or had an evaluation done to determine her level, your gymnast will be offered a class most typically based on her age and skill level. Some gyms group purely on age, others on level, and finally some group by both age and level.
There’s no right or wrong way to take a gymnastics class. It should be noted that occasionally children get invited to the gym’s “team” program after one evaluation based on their skill level. However, more often than not, the first class your gymnast will take is under the “recreational” umbrella.
Understanding the Recreational Umbrella:
Every gym has different names and groupings under the “recreational” umbrella. Here are four typical levels classes offered in a recreational program.
Parent participation classes (co-ed)
Parent participation classes are the first level in recreational gymnastics. A lot of gyms start these classes at 18mo. and require parents or guardians to participate until their child is approximately 3 years old. Often called “mommy-and-me”, in these classes children define their motor skills, learn to work in a group and with a coach, and learn basic gymnastics skills.
Level 1 or Beginner Girls/ Boys
Beginner class is a term you’ll hear when your recreational gymnast is around 5 years old. Your gymnast will learn how to successfully climb and walk on a balance beam. She’ll learn to support herself on the uneven bars and perform skills like handstands against the wall and forward and backward rolls, unassisted. Beginner recreational classes are great opportunities for children to engage with adults, their peers, and to develop self-awareness of their bodies.
Level 2 or Intermediate Girls/Boys
Intermediate classes are where the bigger skills start! At this point, girls and boys are placed in separate classes. In intermediate classes your gymnast will be challenged with learning to transfer weight on her hands through skills like cartwheels and round-offs. She’ll learn how to do a backbend on floor and pull-over on bars!
In advanced classes gymnasts have mastered basic elements (walking on beam, handstands against a wall, cartwheels, etc.) and they know their gymnastics terminology. Words such as “lunge” and “pike” are now part of her vocabulary. Advanced classes focus on skill development and you’ll see her starting to learn round-offs, kick overs, back hip circles, etc.
After completing recreational classes, the world of competitive gymnastics opens up for students who choose to pursue it. At this point, your gymnast may be eligible to try out for the gym’s developmental or team programs. But regardless of the direction your gymnast ends up going, whether it be to the competitive level of gymnastics or another sport, she’ll benefit greatly from the skills, fitness, and confidence that comes from participating in a recreational program!