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Tom Tom Tries: Gymnastics

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Jared

From my previous experiences, gymnastics seemed like a fun and simplistic sport, but after stepping on to those mats and watching the gymnasts warm up and stretch I realized I was way outside of my comfort zone. While we all seemed up for the challenge, I knew that it was going to be much more of a challenge than I expected.

Being a gymnast requires much more strength and skill than I thought it did prior to my experience at the Gymnastics Zone. Even though I was nervous, I came into the gym ready. As we were warming up, I felt just how tight all of my muscles and joints were. I would find this to be a problem as the practice ensued.

We started off on the vault. This involved sprinting and jumping up high off of a spring board onto the vault trying to perform aerial moves off of it. This had to be the most difficult activity for me due to the sheer fact that I have always been afraid of doing any sort of flips in the air. As those of us non-gymnasts attempted these vault stunts, we knew that our form was in no comparison of what was expected from these true gymnasts.

The amount of strength required to be a gymnast became more prominent to me as we began to try out the uneven bars. The stress on my hands, arms and shoulders was much more than I expected—that is why chalk is necessary when it comes to the uneven bars, without it, the skin on the hand would tear.

My few hours as a gymnast allowed me to realize how much it takes to accel at this sport; and, while it may have been tremendously difficult, it still was an amazing experience.

Emily

Gymnastics was a different experience than I thought it would have been; as a cheerleader, I thought that certain things would be easy when, in reality, it was extremely difficult.

Personally, I thought the vault was scary. I did not like the idea of doing a flip on a large object, not to mention running towards it. Typically in cheer, you flip with nothing in front of you; it’s all you and no equipment, so it was definitely a change for me. I also struggled with the uneven bars because it was hard to get the concept down of flipping yourself over. It takes a lot of strength and it took a lot out of me to get the momentum I needed in order to flip around the bar.

Something that I really enjoyed were the balance beams. I thought it was cool doing spins and jumps on them and trying to learn new tricks as I watched the gymnastics team during their practice. I also enjoyed trying to do cart-wheels on the balance beam and trying to learn some dismounts.

Overall, my experience with trying gymnastics was a lot different than I expected. I thought that I would not have liked the balance beams and I would have done better at the uneven bars, but I definitely surprised myself. It was also cool to see the team work on their skills and see how far they came in one practice. You can see them trying new skills or techniques each time they go on the vault or the balance beam in order to gain more skills. Throughout my time at practice, there were some times where I asked one of the team members how to do something and they helped out tremendously. Experiencing gymnastics was definitely interesting; I learned a lot from it and I gained even more respect than I had before for gymnasts.

Max

First of all, I was scheduled to try gymnastics on very short notice, so I was already unprepared and way behind the others. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect, or what I got myself into.

When I first entered the Gymnastics Zone in town, I was a little nervous on what was going to happen. I mean, I’ve heard all about gymnastics and the organization through school, but never witnessed it first-hand.

After I made myself comfortable, Jared, Joey, Emily and I started stretching with the other girls. Just to make this clear, I am not a very flexible individual. So when the girls were doing the splits and contorting their bodies for certain stretches, I felt very out of place and even a little intimidated.

After stretching we started with vault. For those who are unfamiliar with vault, there is a springboard that one jumps off of and uses a vault to perform certain flips and other acrobatics. So when I first tried vault I was off to a shaky start, but eventually started doing front flips off of it; however, my burst of confidence was quickly shut down when the male instructor told me my form was bad.

Next, we tried the uneven bars. These bars looked very intimidating at first, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. We learned how to perform various flips, after many attempts, and how to jump from one bar to the next (“squat on”). I had very little problems picking up on the uneven bars and even enjoyed it.

Lastly, we tried various stunts on the balance beams, which proved to be my enemy. I realized how poor my balance was after stepping on the beam. It seemed as though Jared, Emily and Joey were having no trouble at all, while I could hardly stand on the beam itself.

Overall, I’d say it was a great experience that was filled with laughter and embarrassment. I think it’s a good thing to sit back and laugh at one’s self every once in awhile. Not only did I learn what gymnastics was all about, but I also learned that it’s important and exciting to try new things, which I encourage everyone to do at some point or another.

Joey

Growing up I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics, especially gymnastics. Every time the Olympics come on TV, they always show the personal side of each athlete; showing what each one has had to sacrifice to make it to such a stage in their career. They also show what goes into each sport and how much toll on the body each one has sacrificed.

I’ve always known that gymnastics is a very difficult sport; it shows the relationship between balance, stamina and endurance to which all is involved in order to compete. Therefore, I was extremely nervous going into the practice with the girls gymnastics team. However, the girls on the team are actually very welcoming and open to talking to others. Senior Katelyn Steuer helped me and my fellow Tom Tom Staffers when we were having difficulty on the uneven bars during practice. She took time to demonstrate while she had her own practice to concentrate on.

I tried a shot at the balance beam and now I have a whole new respect for what the girls on the team do. Initially, I thought it would be pretty easy because I was confident in my balance, but then I gave it a try. I could barely even get on the beam without almost falling off or wobbling the entire time. The uneven bars were just as difficult as the beam. I could barely get the momentum just to swing my body forward around the bar. I had to get multiple corrections from the team members on how to properly gain momentum and have balance and strength at the same time.

Overall, I enjoyed having the opportunity to try something I had never given a thought before. I always knew gymnastics was hard, but now I physically know what is needed to be successful in the sport and have a newfound respect for those athletes involved.

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Tom Tom Tries: Gymnastics