While most young girls spent their Friday nights at the high school football games, the movies or the mall. I spent my Friday nights in the gym. Not just any gym with treadmills, weight benches or stationary bikes, but a gymnastics training facility. You may think that’s odd, that a 14 or 15 year old girl should be hanging out with her girlfriends, but for me, for us, it was normal. All my best friends were in the gym. We just “got” each other. We weren’t normal, we were junior Olympic gymnasts. With that title came certain sacrifices and we understood them. I remember my teammate looking at my hands and saying “no guy will ever want to hold your hands” (I had rips and calluses from the uneven bars) so I looked at hers and said the same back to her, LOL.
Training as a gymnast took a certain type of dedication. You don’t have off seasons, when you aren’t in competition season, you still train the same hours. During summer vacation you just had longer practices. Ultimately, you train for the podium, no matter what level you are in. You don’t know if you will ever go to the Olympics or if injury will end your career at the tender age of 14. You train because you love the sport. You love how the sport challenges you more mentally than physically. You love that gymnastics is the closest that you will ever get to flying. You embrace the talent God gave you to be able to execute skills most people can only dream of. But most of all, for me, I loved my gymnastics family. My friends who understood me and my coaches who became like second parents.
I agree with Shawn Johnson. Gymnastics taught me all I need to know about life. How to give my all to something I want to accomplish, how to stay focused and dedicated to my goals. Gymnastics teaches you that you may not win every time but that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. It teaches you how to be a humble winner and a gracious loser. You will learn how to cheer on your teammate even though ultimately they are your competition, which is rare in most sports. These are skills that last way longer than you career on the blue mat, these skills will last a lifetime.
There are so many benefits to flexibility, especially as we grow older and continue to take part in sports, be it professionally or recreationally. Over the years our muscles tend to tighten and our range of motion minimizes. As a result, I am not where I once was. To tell you the truth, I have never been considered flexible for a gymnast, so I have goals of my own I would like to reach. Let’s work on this together!
Here are a few things that back flexibility can assist with:
1. Flexible muscles relieve stress.
3.Aids in reducing risk of pain or injury.
4.Allows ease of movement.
5.Reduces risk of lower back pain.
Before you begin stretching, it is very important to warm up your body first. You can do this by doing 5-10 minutes of cardio. Jumping jacks and jumping rope are great options for stretching in your home!
While on your back, place your feet on a hard surface that will not move. (If you don’t feel that you have really great upper arm strength, place your feet on the floor) Place your hands, palms down and fingers pointed towards your body, arms should be bent.
Stretch through your pelvis and underarms. You should be pushing your underarms away from your body so that you are opening up your shoulders.
Strike a pose if you want! Or just try to hold the position for 30 seconds before coming down. Make sure to rock your back out when you are done!
I think I spent about 10 years searching for something that truly made me happy. Sure, I had my wonderful husband and beautiful kids, but that happiness was dependent on other people. I wanted something that was all my own, something I was really good at and something I could pour my heart and soul into. Turns out, I knew what that thing was all along. I stepped out on a limb and decided to tread unchartered territory. I researched and found that there was a gym somewhere close by that offered an adult class. I was ecstatic! I wasn’t sure where I was skill wise, but didn’t care. After about two weeks I realized I still had the skills, everything was coming back to me! I even tried a night with the competitive team. But that’s when it happened……the injury, it happened that night. With only 15 minutes left of practice with the competitive team girls, all at least a decade my junior, I tore my Achilles.
A day after the injury
It was tough, it was really hard. I had a lot of bad days. I couldn’t walk for almost a year.
I was super excited to get the walking boot. It was more like a limping boot.
Fast Forward to now
Most importantly, I made it. I realized a lot of things. I realized what was really important to me and what I really wanted. I was determined to get back in shape, tumble and compete again. I’m almost there. We all have obstacles that seem like they will make our goals impossible, don’t let them. Stick with what you know and what you are good at. Most importantly, believe in yourself.
Here is my journey, health, fitness, happiness and GYMNASTICS!