Gymnastics requires agility, balance, strength, and coordination. Gymnastics is often used to improve athletes in other sports.
There are two types of gymnastics: rhythmic and artistic, both are judged events in the Olympic Games. Rhythmic gymnastics, involves harmonized movement to music using clubs, balls, hoops, and ribbons. Rhythmic gymnasts concentrates on juggling and dance techniques.
The purpose of artistic gymnastics is to execute each move correctly, with grace and control of the movement. Artistic gymnastics combines many different elements, including floor routines, vaulting, the balance beam, the high or uneven bars (depending on gender), and the rings.
Floor routines, performed on a foam mat, includes moves like forward and backward rolls, head and hand stands, forward and backward somersaults, cartwheels, and splits.
Vaulting is performed on an apparatus called a vault, typically with 4 legs that can be adjusted to different heights, which can be positioned with-wise or sideways. A spring board is used to assist the athlete over the vault. The two kinds of vaults are the squat vault and the hand spring vault, which vary the position of the athlete's legs and arms. After the vault, the gymnasts land on two feet, and hold their arms at their side.
The balance beam is a wooden bar 10 cm wide and 5 metres long, with adjustable height. Routines on the beam consists of mounts, turns, jumps, balances (including splits, squats, and kneeling positions), ending with a dismount. The mount and dismount refer to the gymnast's ascent to and descent from the beam.
The uneven bar and high bars, made of a flexible fiberglass) require the athletes to be much more adventurous in their routines. Women use the uneven (asymmetric) bars while men use the high (parallel) bar. The uneven bars are adjusted to the height and weight of the competitor. Gymnasts move from bar to bar, and routines include moves like swings, rises, and rotations.
The rings are the most difficult piece of equipment for a gymnast to master, requiring great upper body strength, and are used only by male gymnasts.
The athletic wear for gymnastics needs to be lightweight and stretchy. A good ensemble would be a T-shirt or sweatshirt with cotton leggings. The gymnastics equipment, like the horse, uneven bars, high bar, and mats are provided by the gymnastic facility.
The gymnastic clubs in Halifax offer fall, winter, and spring sessions. The sessions are usually 12 classes and cost between $100-$130. Halifax Sports and Recreation (490-4685) runs gymnastics classes as well as summer youth day camps. Call Gymnastics Nova Scotia (902/425-5450, ext. 338), Sackville Taiso Gymnastics (865-8798), Illusions Rhythmic Gymnastics Club (902/ 443-9153)