I'm not a gymnast, but I'm thinking about writing my parents a nasty text about not making me do gymnastics as a kid. From the perspective of someone who trains adults of all ages how to move better and get fit, my job would be exponentially easier had they just learned some basic gymnastics skills!
Not everyone is going to be an athlete, but that doesn't mean everyone shouldn't be trained how to use their own body. Here's why you need to get your kid in gymnastics ASAP.
It almost never fails. When a new person comes into SPSC CrossFit and takes to verbal movement cues right away, takes to weightlifting right away, etc. there's a good chance they have a background in gymnastics. We don't have to explain what the overhead position looks like or how to stabilize their trunk in a squat. The movement patterns are ingrained at an early age. As a result, they typically adapt to new skills and movements very easily.
Most people think that we, as trainers, just spout off workouts and tell people how to lift. WRONG. A majority of our time and instruction is dedicated to getting each person to move correctly and efficiently. There is often a lack of proprioception (body awareness) and an understanding of which muscles to activate to complete a lift.
Some gymnastics training can go a long way in setting this foundation.
This is another big one. As adults, we don't want to spend weeks or months going through bodyweight progressions and taking it easy. We want to lift more weight in less time and get some damn results! Well, you could've spent your early years getting those progressions out of the way.
Beginners and intermediate gymnastics programs will develop strength and conditioning in children gradually. Since it doesn't require the use of weights, gymnastics will require your body to achieve stability in tough positions and strength in your connective tissues, tendons and ligaments. Think about all that is included in a gymnasts basic skill set: sprinting, jumping, tumbling, handstands, pull-ups, push-ups, isometric holds, etc.
And don't forget about that core! Not only does gymnastics require incredible core strength, but the discipline to express this strength through solid positions. Core work and upper body strengths are the big strength benefits that come out of this training.
Now I'm not advocating that every child needs to be a competitive gymnast. I do think that it is one of the best ways to learn how to move your body through space, create a more functional body, and improve athletic performance. Whether or not you have a future in sports, I don't see how you could go wrong.
-Taylor Race, owner/trainer at St. Pete Strength and Conditioning, home of SPSC CrossFit