Gymnastics Circus

I was talking to an incredibly smart woman last week, who also happens to have been a client of mine for four years. She said she wanted her daughter to stay in gymnastics and was willing to pay extra for a good place so her daughter Handstand Chattingcould learn to cartwheel. The mom felt like it was one of her regrets, never learning how to cartwheel herself.

It made me wonder, why do we think gymnastics is for kids? Or even more, why do so many people think games are just for kids? OK, the Olympics are for adults, but hopscotch, jumping rope, just bouncing a ball, etc. is “supposed to be” for children. How did we get such a cognitive dissonance between the two?

With Screen-Free Week coming up, take each night that you’d watch TV, and turn it into an active night. Set up a gymnastics or circus circuit in your home instead. On Monday, put masking tape down in your living room and walk, jump, twirl, and cartwheel along the “balance beam”. If you live on a quiet street, go outside and use the curb.  Start small by just balancing on one leg along the line.

Pummel HorseOn Tuesday night, use the side of the couch, laundry basket or the bathtub as a pommel horse. Yes, you’ll need to allow yourself and the kids to flop and jump on the couch some, but it will be incredibly fun, memorable and good exercise. Think of what you see gymnasts do and try a smaller version. Put your hands on the edge of the couch and see how long you can hold yourself up. Do push-ups on it, or let your child swing both feet over the top while holding on with both hands.

Trampoline and or “floor” work can be Wednesday night. Bounce on the bed, or push back the couch and play. Walk your feet up the wall to try a head or handstand. Attempt a cartwheel even if it looks bad. It will get better. Do somersaults and crab walks. Attempt a backbend if you are really feeling brave.

The even (or uneven bars if you are female) is trickier to create at home. On Thursday, see if you can go to the playground and experiment at the park. It’s fun! Don’t let the excuse “I have no upper body strength” stoCircusp you. You have more upper body strength than you think. Really.  Alternatively, find a super sturdy dining room/office chair with arms. Sit on the chair, put your hands on the handles and lift yourself up, so nothing is touching the floor. It’s hard; it’s not you. Compete with your kiddo and see who can go the longest. Invent new ways to use your even bars. My kids are great at this, although I can barely do most of the things they create. Nevertheless I try, we laugh, I’m humbled and the game continues.

On Friday, have a gymnastics or circus show. Put down hula hoops as circus rings, put on costumes, and take turns performing the skills you practiced this week. Realize you didn’t miss the screen time (too much), and discover new muscles. Plus, you won’t regret not learning that cartwheel. You’ll know you are working on it…