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One of my earliest childhood memories involves landing my first somersault. I cleared an area in the living room, squatted into position, and took off on my maiden tumble. My form wasn’t quite up to par, though, and I hit my head on a bookcase. That was my first, and last, time attempting anything resembling gymnastics – until I recently tried an adult gymnastics class. I was admittedly scared, but the experience allowed me to confront my fear … and have fun.
The class, offered at the Gymnastics Academy of Boston in Acton, gives “big kids” a chance to jump in on the action. It’s comprised mainly of moms who are tired of sitting on the sidelines while their kids engage in all of the activities.
To get the blood flowing, the session kicked off with an array of exercises that included pushups, sit-ups, and burpees. These are all part of my regular workout routine, so I started off feeling pretty confident. That is, until we started doing the actual gymnastics.
Our first stop was the tumbling area. Everyone lined up and, one by one, bounced down a long trampoline until they reached the end, where they commenced with simple flips onto a heavily cushioned mat. When it was my turn, the class quickly morphed into an episode of Fear Factor.
I have yet to attempt a handstand in yoga for fear of breaking my neck. And, despite having undergone lifeguard training in college, I have never dived head first into a pool. So the thought of performing any sort of move where my feet leave the ground while my head turns upside down completely frightened me. The instructor sensed my fear. Well, that and I voiced my utter trepidation to him at least a half-dozen times. So, as is the case with all beginners, he started me off slow and broke down each movement so I understood exactly what I was doing. I engaged my core and propelled my body down the trampoline. When I got to the end I stopped, dropped, and eventually tumbled onto the mat. Mission accomplished.
We soon graduated to tumbling, or in my case stumbling, into a pit filled with foam blocks. I was blown away by everyone’s abilities. All of the women were of different ages, shapes, and sizes. Some had been involved in gymnastics since they were young, while others had very little experience beyond parental spectator. But they were flipping and flying all over the place with complete control and an enviable level of ease. They assured me, though, that this comes with lots of practice.
I eventually managed to muster up enough courage to somersault into the pit, which just may rank as one of my greatest accomplishments. Afterwards, I even flipped over a couple of uneven bars of varying heights. Knowing that I was well out of my comfort zone, everyone was so encouraging, cheering me on every step of the way and sharing stories of how they were in the same boat when they first started out. The camaraderie among the participants made the class fun. There was no competitiveness. Instead, there were plenty of laughs and I got the sense they really wanted to see each other succeed.
Gymnastics is a great way to get back in touch with your inner child. It’s also a good workout, with strength, core work, and balance all incorporated into each of the activities. And what’s the old adage about doing something that scares you every day? I can definitely check that off the list.
Gymnastics Academy of Boston, Acton, www.gymnasticsacademyofboston.com/acton, see web site for fall class schedule and pricing.