Gymnastics for Teens & Pre-Teens

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Gymnastics for 14-year-old beginner?

Sept 2010

My 14 year old high school freshman daughter just expressed a desire to take gymnastics for the first time. She is about 5'8''. Is it possible for her to start now as a beginner? It seems to me most kids start at a young age, and that the sport favors smaller body types. Perhaps she could have private lessons if group classes are full of six year olds. Also, would tumbling or circus-type of classes be an alternative for an older kid? Suzanne

Hi. There are many ways to approach gymnastics: recreational, social or competitive. Most likely your daughter is not going to end up in the Olympics, but if she's interested at any level, and she has the time and you have the money, why not let her go for it? All gymnasts tend to end up in events that favor their particular attribute, whether it's strength, balance, or flexibility. There are certainly women gymnasts who are 5'8''-- they often do ''floor events.'' Plus the skills she gains will pay off in other places, other sports, even employment. anon

Your daughter can certainly begin gymnastics at 14.

I recommend that you take her to Head over Heels in Emeryville on a Saturday between 10 and noon to check out what's going on there. You will see lots of tumbling and gymnastics classes for kids of different ages. You will also see the HOH Team working out, and you will notice that all different body types can do gymnastics; short to tall, rail thin to thick muscular; and all ages. Head over Heels offers both a Tumbling for Teens class and a Circus for Teens class on Friday evenings.

The chances are pretty slim that your daughter would end up on the competitive team, unless she was really really driven (like willing to work out 20+ hours/week). Most of those girls start out pretty young. But there is a lot of non-competitive fun she could have, learning to do gymnastics, tumbling and trampoline. If she likes the physical side of things, she'd probably prefer gymnastics, and if she likes performing you could check out circus.

I only have experience with Head over Heels, but I am sure there are also other gyms in the area you could look into as well. Good luck! Gym Mom

My daughter did gymnastics for many years and she says your two top choices would be Head over Heels in Emeryville or Golden Bears at Cal. She says that @ Golden Bears she will learn better form but @ Head over Heels she will do flips and tricks quicker. She also mentioned that this just may be a phase that she is going through with beginning High School, trying new things, etc. Good luck to you all. GYM MOMA

Gymnastics for Older Boy

September 2001

Our son would love to continue gymnastics. A couple of years ago he took classes at Windmill gymnastics which is a fantastic place (staff and facilities), but it is the other side of the world (for us). Any recommendations for a gymnastic class (for a very active, older child, 10-yr-old), in North Oakland, Piedmont, Lake Merritt area? Mara Head Over Heels Gymnastics has a great facility and program in Emeryville. That's at least a little closer to you than Windmill lynn

Try Head Over Heels in Emeryville on 45th and Hollis. They have a few recreation classes for boys. If your son is ready to give competitive gymnastics a try, see Coach Ron Bell of East Bay Elite (he curently rents space at Head Over Heels)and works only with boys gymnastics. Currently, he works with around 35 kids at various levels. He is highly experienced. You can visit the gym to see the boys program M-F 4:30-8pm or Sat 10am-2pm. Both my sons (ages 15 and 11) have been training with him for the past 3 years and are extremely happy with his program. He is planning, however, to move to a facility in Berkeley sometime in the next few months. victoria