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Gymnastics ~ A girl sport?

At Vancouver’s Baby and Family Fair, Gymnastics BC hosted a Try Gymnastics Zone. All kids were welcome to try some beginner gymnastics.  

Throughout the weekend, the Gymnastics BC staff overheard dads (AND moms) say that since their children were boys, they didn’t need any gymnastics info. At the same time, their boys were having lots of fun trying gymnastics!

Who does gymnastics?

On various forums, there are moms asking for support because their husband refuses to allow them to put their sons into gymnastics programs. Inevitably other moms say the same thing happened in their house.

In one blog post, a mom relates how her son was invited to a birthday party at the local gymnastics club. Thinking it was a great idea, she watched as everyone had a great time. Then she noticed that her son was the only boy. Where were the other boys? Everyone in the class had been invited.

After the party she spoke to some of the parents and found that “many thought that gymnastics is only suited for girls and declined the invitation only for that reason”. (1)

So gymnastics is a “girl sport”? 

Gymnastics began as a way to train men for military duty. In ancient Greece, gymnastic exercises were developed for physical conditioning and military training. These training programs were integral to the educational programs for children, as it was believed that this would facilitate unity of mind and body. 

Men have competed in gymnastics at every Olympics. The first individual Olympic competition for women didn’t take place until 1952.

And gymnasts are known for being pound to pound, some of the strongest athletes in the world. It isn’t unusual to see young boys with six packs at gymnastics clubs. 

What is gymnastics? 

Gymnastics is about “how the body moves”. And it is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as a “foundation sport” for all physical activity and sports.

Early participation in gymnastics develops:

  • fundamental movement skills
  • physical and motor abilities
  • social, mental and emotional abilities
  • performance skills

This develops physical literacy, and enables children to enjoy healthy, active lifestyles and a variety of activities.

How important is gymnastics to any athlete’s development?

UFC champion Georges St. Pierre uses gymnastics extensively in his training. He has even stated that “gymnasts are the most athletic athletes in the world. (2)

And Olympic gold medalist Kyle Shewfelt says that, “every little boy should be put in gymnastics, regardless of size.” (3)

He adds that “it is the best place to teach kids what they need to exceed at other sports because they learn how their body works”. (4)

Why do these world class (male) athletes say this? 

Because gymnastics increases the ability to balance and develop good posture. It contributes to the child’s general strength and stability during his or her physical development and promotes agility, flexibility and ability to respond. Above all, however, children gain an awareness of their body in a fundamental way found in no other sport.

Gymnastics for everyone

No activity should ever be classified as a boy sport or a girl sport. And the benefits of gymnastics are too important for boys to be missing out. Not only can it help boys achieve their goals in other sports, some may decide that gymnastics is their sport.

It’s time to stop thinking that gymnastics is a girl sport. It is a sport for everyone!

References

Gender stereotypes in the kindergarten and beyond; Irina Griffiths

Why you should enrol your son in gymnastics, Jan 24, 2011; James S. Fell

UFC 129: GSP Talks Gymnastics & Training Olympic Sports

Additional information

Three reasons why gymnastics helps boys PLAY in other sports

The puberty ad you'll want to show all girls and boys

Male gymnasts perform in shadow of their female counterparts

Help your Children Breaking Free from Gender Stereotypes

A Boy In Gymnastics? Say It Ain’t So?!

 

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