TOPs Gymnastics State Testing

TOPs (Talented Opportunity Program) State Testing will be finished as of July 31st. That means less than two weeks of testing left and then the waiting for the cut-off score begins! New to the TOPs gymnastics program? Wondering what a cut-off score means? Wondering what happens next? Let’s gab about it! Here are the basics . . .

Tops Gymnastics Testing


How Many Athletes are testing?

Approximately 2,000 – 3,000 athletes across the country will test in the TOPs gymnastics program this year. Athletes are divided into 7, 8, 9, & 10 year old age groups (determined by their age as of December 31st, 2014).

What is being tested?

All gymnasts (ages 7-10) are tested on Physical Abilities (Rope Climb, Press Handstands, Leg Lifts, Handstand Hold, Casts, and Flexibility/Holds). Gymnasts (ages 8-10) will also be tested on three Skill Sets (Bars, Beam, & Floor).

How does the scoring system work?

Each Physical Ability is worth 10 points, except flexibility/holds which are a combined total of 12 points. A perfect score for Physical Abilities is 62. Each Skill Routine is worth 24 Points for a combined total of 72 points. A 7 year-old’s overall score is a total of all points awarded during the Physical Ability testing. A perfect score for a 7 year old is 62 points. An 8-10 year old’s overall score is the combined score of their Physical Abilities (weighted 40%) and their Skill Routines (weighted 60%). A perfect score for an 8-1o year old athlete is 100 points.

TOPs National Testing Information|My gymnasts at National Testing in 2013 with Valeri Liukin|

What is done with the scores after testing?

All scores are sent to the National Office and ranked within each age group. If a gymnast tests multiple times they will be awarded their highest score and ranked accordingly. After all athletes are tested (July 31st) and scores are sent to the National Office, a cut-off score will be determined by the 100th place gymnast’s score in each age category (8-10). The top 100 athletes from each age group will qualify to compete at TOPs National Testing in October. The Top 50 7-year-olds will be named part of the TOPs Diamond Team and be rewarded a TOPs official jacket and qualify their coach to attend National Testing.

Top 100 10 year olds make National Testing
Top 100 9 year olds make National Testing
Top 100 8 year olds make National Testing
Top 50 7 year olds make Diamond Team

Hope this information helps! Let me know if you have any other TOPs gymnastics related questions. You can also find more info on my previous TOPS Gymnastics 101 Post!

Good Luck!


You’ll probably agree that with most any sport or hobby, we tend to learn that “it’s a small world” once we dive into the thick of it. But the gymnastics world might not be as small as you may think. The branches on the gymnastics tree reach further and are more numerous than many people are aware, so our very own Jessie felt inspired to create a visual image of the Gymnastics Family Tree for us. Thanks Jessie! | Click on the image to see it enlarged |

|Click on image to ENLARGE|

• There are two main branches that grow from the gymnastics trunk. They include the Amateur Athletic Union (think of Recreational or Public Programs) and that of USA Gymnastics (think of Club Gymnastics and The Olympics).

• From the USA Gymnastics (USAG) Branch stems 5 sub-branches: Artistic Gymnastics (think of men & women vaulting, swinging, balancing, tumbling), Rhythmic Gymnastics (think of super flexible women dancing and leaping with ribbons, hoops, etc.), Acrobatic Gymnastics (think of Cirque Du Soleil -type balancing & flipping routines but without face paint and stages), Tumbling & Trampoline (think of well, tumbling, trampolines, and synchronized diving only landing on the tramp/ground), and Gymnastics For All the other people (think of introductory gymnastics programs for people who want to do gymnastics at all ages and stages of life)

• From the Artistic, Rythmic, Acro, and Tumbling & Trampoline branches stem further, more detailed branches separating participants into levels of skill and dedication. The Elite, Pre-Elite, Tops/Future Stars, and Squad Development Programs are designed to find and determine exceptional talent and “provide competitive experiences for athletes aspiring to the National Team or the Pre-Elite Training Squad.”

The Junior Olympic (JO) program is designed as the solid and basic foundation from which all athletes, “regardless of their potential,” can begin to develop their talents and competitive gymnastics experiences.

The Xcel Program is a program designed to maintain a competitive experience at a less strenuous and less traditional level as it tends to be more affordable and at a broader range of athleticism.

• Reaching out from each of Skill & Dedication branches are branches of Events in which the men and women involved compete. These events include apparatus, props, & pairings or groups.

• The AAU allows for competitive experiences at lower levels and are governed by different scoring systems and rules. The USAG is governed by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) code of points. Though there are other gymnastics point systems (think NCAA), most youth athletes in gymnastics are governed by the USAG code of points.

We know it can all be complicated and confusing. With the help of YouTube we hope to bring a bit of clarity by featuring the diverse athleticism within the sport. Gymnastics doesn’t occupy as small of a world as you may think–but it’s a beautiful and wonderful world all the same! That’s why we love it!











Power Tumbling











High Bar:



Parallel Bars:

Why Leotards?

Today’s leotard post includes a product review of  Snowflake Designs leotards.  
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Let’s start with why I love leotards so much MORE than tanks and shorts, shall we?

First and obviously most importantly, leotards keep gymnasts safe. Leotards let gymnasts move without restriction, avoiding hazards while flipping, twisting, tumbling, or swinging – especially when being spotted! Second, leotards enhance the grace and beautiful lines gymnastics has to offer; something that can sadly disappear with the addition of shorts or display of the midsection. And third, leotards provide a unique “true-to-gymnastics” fashion statement. Anyone agree?

sfd2Photo Credit | Megan Tidwell Photography

One of my favorite hobbies at the gym is sorting our pro-shop leotards by size and color. I love the variety of leotards, styles, fabrics, prints and companies these days! I also love how leotards can be an outward representation of a gymnast’s inner-personality.


When Snowflake Designs sent us two leotards this month, the first thing that caught my attention was how different the leotards were from each other.

The first leotard (pictured above) reminded me of one of my level 9 gymnasts; confident & steady with a bit of flare. She of course fell in love with the color and detail the minute I presented it to her. I was impressed with the quality and intricate design and her teammates were envious of the “eye-catching” leotard she was chosen to wear. The only downside – I didn’t have enough for everyone to try!


The second leotard (pictured above) spoke the word “spunky” to me.  When I had one of my seven-year old TOPs testers try it on she started bouncing.  She was absolutely giddy about the vibrant colors and funky pattern! Megan (our photographer and former gymnast) coaxed this little one into holding still just long enough to snap a few photos – notice her smile? Later that day, our cutie’s mom texted me that her little firecracker planned to sleep in the leotard!


My own daughter has a few Snowflake Leotards, I purchased at a gymnastics event. But it was a trip to the Snowflake Designs website that really opened my eyes to their world of color, prints, and price points. While you’re perusing Snowflake’s leotards online, check out the Flash Leotard in white. I love white – harder to keep clean, but stunning to look at!

If you’re looking for something other than leotards, Snowflake sells an array of gymnastics shirts, pajamas, leggings, jewelry and even shorts and tanks if you’re still not convinced that leotards are the only way to go! Let me know if you find something you love!

– Makenna
Photos taken at All American Gymnastics, UT & a special thanks to Megan Tidwell Photography


Gym Mom Jobs

We all balance many roles in life. These days, probably too many. Wife, Mother, Coach, Blogger, Friend . . . are just the beginning of my (Makenna’s) slightly overwhelming list. The challenge of course is managing all of the titles and not letting the most important roles (for me, that of wife and mother) get neglected because of my commitment to the others. I’m sure I’m not alone in this trial.

This Summer I added a new challenge to the craziness – I started co-coaching my daughter’s team. YIKES!!!  The goal? To gracefully fill both the role of gym mom and coach without confusing one with the other. Only time (& my daughter) will let me know if this is possible. To prepare for this role-overlap I reviewed a Parent Handbook a fellow director and I created several years ago that addresses the unique sub-roles of parent, coach, and gymnast. I definitely have some things to work on!


Today I share the cliff note version of the numerous hats a gym mom (or dad) wears and why these jobs are so important to the happiness, health, and success of the gymnast.

1. Cheerleader – Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool!

One of the most important roles of a gym parent is that of a cheerleader! Yes, you may have heard a cheerleader joke or two circulate the gymnastics stands, but the truth is, we as parents should find no shame in emulating the traditional role of a cheerleader.

First, Cheerleaders create EXCITEMENT – this is not golf, we can clap, yell, celebrate, and let ourselves be heard! Cheerleaders know how to contribute to the positive energy of an event without interacting with the athletes. The key is to not to distract the gymnasts, but let them know we’re there!

Next, Cheerleaders provide UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT – they are the most devoted fans. Their love, commitment, and support for their athletes are not contingent on the outcome of the game.

Cheerleaders also have unwavering BELIEF in their athletes. To them the game is not over until the time runs out. The season is not over until the last game. And there is always another year. With that said, belief is not to be confused with the pressure of expectation.

“A lot of people have gone farther than they thought they could because someones else thought they could.” – Zig Ziglar

2. Banker – Investing in your child is a sound investment; but not always a cheap one!

We all know this can be an expensive sport. The best plan is to plan ahead, but don’t bank on the future!

First, what should we plan for? Talk to your coach or director for a comprehensive list of what items you need to budget. Here are some items to get you started: monthly tuition, competition leotard & warm-up, USAG membership fee, meet entrance fees, coaching fees, and gate fees. Depending on your child’s level/gym you should also be prepared to pay for floor music, choreography, and out-of-state traveling costs. You may also want to plan for camps or clinics. It can all add up fast! So be prepared and get creative! Some gyms offer fundraisers or gym-trade (cleaning/office help) to offset costs.

If we want your children to stay NCAA eligible, all these expenses will be withdrawals from the bank without any monetary “deposits”. In other words, gymnasts cannot make money through their gymnastics!!! Sometimes I hear these costs justified as “payments” towards college with the college scholarship as the reward. Yikes! There is no guarantee and this is an awful burden to place on a child. In fact, there is no guarantee that our children will love gymnastics until their Senior Year of high school, nor that they’ll have the skill set for collegiate gymnastics. Is it not better to look at the cost of gymnastics as an investment in your child’s character and the journey as the reward?!

3. Chauffeur – You can’t give your kid a kip, but you can get them to the gym to learn one.

This role is fairly simple. Getting our children to gym on time and often allows for proper instruction and physical development. If tardiness or attendance is an issue, ask around for carpooling options. Your gym may help you with viable options.

4. Nutritionist – Poor food choice can have ill-effects immediately, as well as over time.

The role of a nutritionist is a bit more complicated. Here are ideas to get us started.

(1) Snacks are IMPORTANT – Pack your athlete a healthy snack for pre and post workout (if practice is more than a couple hours, you may want to provide a snack for during as well). Offer healthy options, but don’t force them to eat. For good snack ideas check out our 10.0 Grab & Go list or this one by Coach Casie HERE.  For more nutritional information check out USAG’s Healthy Nutrition article.

(2) Keep them HYDRATED – Send gymnasts with a water bottle or have one ready for them in the car before/after workout. Want to know why? Read Athletes: The Importance of Good Hydration.

(3) SUBSTITUTE with healthier options – Use Almond Butter instead of Peanut Butter. Offer Humus instead of other dips. Try Vegenaise instead of Mayo. You get the idea.

(4) Make it CONVENIENT – Pre-cut/prepare food and store it in individual serving sizes. I love Real Simple’s Refrigerator Snack Station ideas.

(5) Teach them WHY – If healthy food is presented as fuel, it might be less of a fight. Teach them why WHAT they put in their body can effect HOW they perform at the gym. Sometimes the most powerful tool in convincing them of the importance of proper eating habits, is your example!!! If you need help, start HERE.

Guilty of not always being the best “nutritionist” for my gymnast, but striving to be better,

Summer Bucket List

We couldn’t be more excited that summer is here!  As many of us get used to new workout schedules, we anticipate learning and getting used to new gymnastics skills! How exciting to think about!!!

What a better way to get started with all of that than a Gymnastics Summer Bucket List!?!?! In our free Gym Gab printable for all ages and stages, we shared a few fun things to help you become happier, healthier, and more successful gymnasts over the summer!  Feel free to personalize it!

And let us know how it goes!  Let summer begin!


First download the Gym Gab Bucket List – We think it’s great!





You’d think that with all the coaching, blogging, and taking-our-kids-to-gymnastics-ing we do, we’d get tired of hearing about and finding new exciting gymnastics-related things in our lives. Well, that’s simply not the case!!! Through our endless adventures in instagram-land, we discovered little Miss Baylie who we thought you’d all love to meet as well!

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Meet Baylie, our first gymnast we’d like to spotlight in our Summer Spotlight Series!


You can follow Baylie on instagram(@bayliethegymnast) where she has over 8,000 followers to date (though some unnecessary and insensitive comments can pop up here and there), her family feels like the support from other awesome gymnasts and fans has been a really positive experience. Our favorite recent pic she has shared? Baylie biting her gold medal like Gabby Douglas! 

Baylie started gymnastics “at the itty bitty age of 3” (as her mom says),  she learned her cartwheel from household lessons from her older sister and then quickly taught herself all kinds of great skills by simply observing the older girls in her gym. Quickly advancing through the levels, it became apparent that this little sprite was going to be one to watch!

When we asked what her parents’ favorite thing to watch Baylie do was, her mom said enthusiastically, “I was sooo excited when she got her kip–especially since she was the youngest on her team. It wasn’t the BEST, but she got it!”

Baylie has just finished competing in her first year of competitions winning several first place trophies along with a handful of other medals! “My proudest ‘gym mom’ moment was her very first competitive meet.” Her mom tells us, “About 15 family members attended. We all thought she did a good job but we weren’t prepared for what was to come at the award ceremony! When they called her name for first place All Around out of about 20 six and seven year olds, our entire family jumped to our feet! We were yelling and high fiving and my husband and I were jumping up and down and hugging! I even had a few tears come down my face! Miss Baylie,” she goes on, “Oh, if you could have seen her; she had the biggest, biggest smile on her face! That was a moment that I will never forget. We were so proud of her and that was one of the proudest moments in the world for us.”

Currently, Baylie trains 9 to 10 hours a week between her level 3 (soon to be level 4) practices and private lessons as well as taking some dancing/stretching advice from her Uncle Oscar who was once a performer on the esteemed Cirque Du Soleil’s “Mystere” stage and is now the Artistic Director for a ballet company. Lucky girl!


“My favorite gymnast? Myself and Gabby Douglas.”

Baylie has a fabulous support system which we’ve come to love as we’ve seen pictures of family and friends don matching shirts at her competitions. Baylie loves her coaches and their unique way of encouraging her and keeping her on track. She hopes to become much like her favorite gymnast Gabby Douglas and/or open her own gym (which she’s decided she’ll name THE BAYLIE EXPERIENCE!”) and until then, she continues to practice hard, be inspired by Gym Gab, and do all those “skills that typical 6 year olds can’t do.” Her mom tells us, “This is truly her passion” and even though Baylie doesn’t particularly love running during conditioning exercises she still loves the rest of gymnastics endlessly.

The supportive momma of Baylie, Nicole, also shared with us some things she has learned about being a gym-mom thus far and we think it’s great advice for any gym parent,  “Enjoy these moments, take plenty of pictures, ask questions when you don’t understand something, and let the coaches do their jobs.”

We just love watching Miss Baylie grow in talent and in personality and wish the best for her, her family, and her gymnastics experience!

If you feel like you have a gymnast worth spotlighting on Gym Gab, let us know HERE.

10 Life Hacks for Sore Muscles

If you’re a gymnast or a parent to one, surely you’d agree that gymnastics is full of great workouts and sore muscles afterward.  We, at Gym Gab, aren’t physicians, but we are definitely active individuals and have coached many athletes, so we are certainly familiar with muscles and muscles being sore.  Because of this, we thought you’d love some ideas as to how to get through those sore days a little easier.

Not all of them are for everyone, but we hope you’ll find a few of them to be helpful, if not some of your own new favorites!

Here are 10 of Jessie’s favorite remedies to relieve some of that soreness–and be sure to stay tuned for Makenna’s Favorites list to come!

soremusclehacks 1. SOAK IT UP with Epsom Salts – AKA Magnesium Sulfate. Did you know that most people are deficient in magnesium (an important mineral which helps regulate enzyme activity and proper bodily functions), and sulfate (a mineral which aids in the formation of brain tissue and joint proteins among other things). After a great, hard workout, sitting in a tub of Epsom Salts helps to restore these depleted minerals and in turn, restore and energize the functioning of the enzymes and proteins within the body.

HOW TO USE IT: It is recommended that for the best benefits one should soak in a bath with a cup or two of Epsom salts a few times a week. Be sure the salt is fully dissolved before getting in and soak for at least 12-15 minutes. The salts can be absorbed in the skin and have been known for centuries to help ease soreness, loosen tightness, soften skin, prevent wrinkles, and detoxify your body. You can get some HERE.

2. Take The Homeopathic Remedy Arnica Montana 30X – I am one of those “hippie” type who believes in homeopathic and natural remedies. They work! This one is made specifically for bruising and sore muscles. Known in Germany as the “Stand Up or Go Home” and “Wound Herb,” this homeopathic remedy comes from a plant in the daisy family. As it is well known for collecting massive amounts of sun in the high mountains, mountains climbers were the first to discover the amazing abilities it has to help repair wounds and reduce bruising and pain from accidental falls (more info HERE).

HOW TO USE IT: All you have to do is dissolve 1-2 tablets (depending on age) under your tongue 4 times per day. They are tasteless—it just feels like a tiny pebble of chalk dissolving under your tongue–and you’ll see results! You can get some HERE.

3. Rub It Out with THE STICK – According to a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine (and the millions of studies we’ve done in the gym-ha!) massaging sore muscles not only reduces the inflammation of the muscle tissues but also helps to build fitter, healthier muscles! Read more about the cool new research HERE. Though these findings are great excuses to beg your loved ones to rub you out every night, they probably aren’t going to want to as often as you could use it. So we fell in love with “The Stick.”

HOW TO USE IT: This is a super-easy-to use stick that has lovely moving pieces all along it that somehow magically work the muscle tissue like you were getting a fancy Swedish massage–but you can use it before, during, and after a workout without having to use your puppy-dog eyes.  Just place the middle of the stick on the sore area and push/pull it back and forth until you’re softened inside and out! We love it and totally recommend it. You can get one HERE.

4. Ice, Ice, Baby – Icing (aka applying an ice compress to a sore area) reduces swelling and inflammation tremendously by reducing the blood flow to the area and slows the nerve firing which, in turn, reduces the pain you’re feeling. Growing up, we didn’t have a fancy contraption such as The CryoCup. We would just fill small paper cups up with water, freeze them over night, peel off the bottom part of the cup from the ice, and rub the ice over our sore muscles and joints until we felt better. But with the CryoCup, there’s no messy paper or continual run down the paper-goods isle.  These things are genius, if we say so ourselves, and if you’re serious about becoming a serious athlete, you may as well put them on your wish list.

HOW TO DO IT: Pour water into the cups and freeze over night. When frozen, pull out the ice by holding onto the top piece and rub the ice on and around the injured area. Icing isn’t always the #1 choice for injuries, but most often, it is effective and helpful. Be sure to not hold the ice in one place for too long (we’ll be impressed if you CAN!) because frost bite CAN happen! You can get some CryoCups HERE and some more awesome tips about ice and icing your injuries HERE.

5. Hydrate with Tart Cherry Juice – We’re not talking Cherry Lemonade or Cherry Dr. Pepper here.  We’re talking real cherries juiced into a super strength healing drink! Cherries belong to the RED FRUIT family and the red fruits are saturated with anthocyanins which are disease-fighing, anti-inflammatory antioxident phytochemicals (how’s that for a mouth full?!).  In a study we found by BMJ Specialty Journals, it was discovered that people who drank cherry juice before and after workouts had far less muscle pain and far quicker recovery levels! Plus, cherry juice has natural sources of melatonin which means you’ll be sleeping better…With good sleep and all those antioxidents that help keep cells healthier and younger– you’ll be a healthier and younger YOU with every sip!

HOW TO USE IT:  We‘ve found that the majority of research suggests that you put 1 ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate per 7 ounces of water to make a complete 8 ounces of juice– That one ounce of tart cherry juice took almost 100 cherries to make, so pucker up! You can buy just regular cherry juice (not concentrate) to begin with but we suggest the concentrate for full benefits. It might be SOUR but at least you won’t be so SORE! DSC_9229

6. Hydrate even more with Water – Good old fashioned H20. There is all kinds of research about how much better alkaline water is for your body. It detoxifies, hydrates, oxygenates, alkalizes your body’s pH (which helps stave off illness and injuries–including cancer and other diseases we all want to avoid), and boosts your own immune system. You can get alkaline water in most health stores. Be careful, most bottled waters are NOT alkaline water. If you can’t get a hold of alkaline water, drinking water from the fridge/tap is a great way to reduce soreness in your muscles because hydrating your body with water is a super THING to do. A dehydrated body usually takes water from the muscles first before other places which makes the lactic acid (the stuff that makes you feel sore) move slower and stay in your sore places long. The more you hydrate, the more your body can move fluids of all kinds through its system, therefore, reducing soreness and inflammation–not to mention that two-thirds of our muscles are made up of water–so if you want healthier muscles, you need to pump them up with water! When in doubt, end the drought. Ha. I just made that up.

HOW TO DO IT: Most people don’t have a great thirst-reflex that tells them they are thirsty. In general, an adult male should drink about 3 liters of water per day and a woman should drink about 2.2 liters (about 9 cups). In addition to that, we learned (from this article) that athletes should add 3-6 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise they do. Depending on the environment (temperature of air, inside or outside, intensity of workout) and each individual’s sweat, that number may need to be altered. Bottom line is this: Just drink more water. Always.

7. Allow FAT back into your diet – Say WHHHHAAAATTT?! Yes. Gratefully, the word fat is now associated with GOOD fats as much as it is with BAD fats. In order to function at optimal levels, the body requires two classes of fatty acids: omega-3s and omega-6s. These produce healthy hormones and other molecules that help to balance biochemical reactions that keep us alive and kicking (or in our case, flipping!). Good fats help regulate the inflammation within the body–and as you probably know, soreness is caused primarily from inflammation within the muscles and joints. When our [good] fat stores are too low, the body is unable to reduce the inflammation as well as rebuild the injured sites–which makes it harder to get up and keep moving….which will make bad fats build up quicker. No bueno.

HOW TO DO IT: My favorite sources for healthy fats are dietary. These include delicious options such as fish (like salmon and shrimp), flax seeds, walnuts and almonds, tofu, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, winter squash, olive oil, avocados, and soybeans! If these foods don’t sound awesome (why wouldn’t they?! YUM!!!) you can always supplement with options like THESE  or for the younger kiddos, THESE.

8. Don’t forget protein – Muscles like protein and even the most vegetarian of us all still need protein. After a good workout, there is likely muscle damage (which causes soreness and inflammation), and the body spends a lot of time, energy, and amino acids to try to repair the damage that has been done through protein synthesis (for more in depth info on that, read HERE). The body needs proper nutrition to maintain health and balance, so feed it properly!

HOW TO DO IT: Eat Protein.  That means meat, eggs, dairy, beans + rice, tofu, etc.  If you need more ideas for NON meat protein sources, here’s a great place to look!

9. Stretch It Out Out Out Out Out Out…like Caramello – Who remembers that commercial?! Am I giving away my age too much?! Most anyone who has worked out agrees with most fitness professionals that stretching after a workout can reduce, if not eliminate stiff and sore muscles. Though stretching before and after workouts help with those soreness pains, research actually suggests that regular, daily stretching, provides the most benefits to reducing muscle soreness. When muscles are flexible, they have better circulation, range of motion, and a greater resilience to strain due to being worked. It won’t be just Yogis who enjoy a good stretch once you give it a try!

HOW TO DO IT: There are two main types of stretching: Static Stretching (holding a stretch for 10-60 seconds) and dynamic stretching (think swinging your arms and legs or jumping up and down to get the blood flowing). Most professionals suggest that doing dynamic stretching before a workout is best and saving the static stretching for afterward is optimal–but if you aren’t in the mood for a workout, reaching for your toes during commercials can have some serious benefits for later on!

10. And for your sore hands – don’t forget about our post about Rips and how to heal them more quickly HERE!

We hope these keep your summer post-workout days fresh, flexible, fun, and free of pain!

Summer Book Club

The gymnastics competition seasons are over and soon school will be too!  It all goes by so quickly!  In our excitement to get the summer going, we thought you’d be interested to start a Gym Gab Summer Book Club with us! What better way to keep our athletes reading throughout the homework-free months than to provide them with material that applies directly to their love: Gymnastics?!


Our first book (the first in a great little series) is a fun, fictional read about five pre-teen teammates. We’ve started reading our own copies of it and are thrilled to provide our thoughts and discussion questions during the last week of June. Interested in joining us? Get your copies HERE

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Want to get a head start on next month’s book?

July’s Book Club Book – Gymnastics Psychology: the ultimate guide for coaches, parents, and athletes by Dr. Joe Massimo & Dr. Sue Massimo.



We are excited to introduce another lovely former gymnast and friend to our LIVED, LOVED, and LEARNED series today. If you can’t remember what this series is about, check it out HERE! Kaitlin Hoffman is a tiny little lady with a wonderfully huge story we think you’ll love! Having started competitive gymnastics at 7 and then zipping up into Elite gymnastics by age 13, she shares her story and advice on goal setting, burn out, and navigating through your individual and unique gymnastics journey.
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Hello gymnastics people! I’m excited to share my thoughts on the blog today. Gymnastics has been a huge part of my life and I’ve learned so much throughout the journey. I grew up in Southern California and was coached by two Chinese coaches with a different cultural mindset. For them, gymnastics was LIFE and the Beijing 2008 Olympics was the only goal in sight for me.At one point, I was training up to 48 hours a week to get there.

After competing my first season as an elite, my family and I moved to Utah where, up until I was 16, I trained, competed, and eventually ended my gymnastics career in the Junior Olympic Level 10.

Post gymnastics, I took up cheerleading (go ahead and judge me gymnastics people) and enjoyed the social aspect of it throughout high school. Because of that, I earned a cheerleading scholarship to the University of Hawaii my Freshman year of college until I transferred to Brigham Young University my Sophomore year. There, I also cheered until I tore my ACL which left my Junior year as a year of recovery from my injury.

That year, for some reason, I longed for my gymnastics days…and that’s when I had the far-fetched idea to try to compete on the BYU Gymnastics Team my senior year. I knew it was a long shot and I was terrified of getting into a leotard again, but I gave it a try. I felt so humiliated when I joined the team knowing that it had been 6 years since I had last trained and had relatively few skills compared to the girls there who were already so talented. I couldn’t imagine what contribution I would have for the team but with a lot of training and conditioning, I was able to compete my senior season! It was even harder than I imagined but entirely worth it.


I’d like to share a few things that I learned on my unconventional gymnastics journey.

1. Set realistic goals. 

Parents and coaches: beware of imposing an Olympic dream on a child. This expectation can be damaging. It can leave a feeling of constant failure because the reality is a gymnast will statistically fail to reach this goal. If a gymnast happens to become an Olympian, that is great! But do not be so focused on this goal that the focus on short term goals is lost. Setting realistic goals will lead to success and fulfillment.

2. There is no need to rush through the levels.

Enjoy and succeed in every level! Testing out of levels and moving up the latter as quickly as possible, is meant for a rare breed. Unless you’re trying to make the Olympics (see my first tip), there is no rush. This can result in a burn out.

3. Do not go overboard on practice hours.

More hours do not necessarily mean a better gymnast. What matters is how productive the time is; not how long. I know gymnastics clubs set their own hours for teams, but if a parent or gymnast feels it is too much, speak up! Sometimes less is more!

4. Consider other options before quitting. 

First off, gymnastics is not always rainbows and butterflies. Avoid quitting during a rough patch in gymnastics (injuries, moves, regression, coach problems, etc.). You’ll regret not waiting it out to see if you could get through it. If you’ve waited out a rough patch long enough and you still feel burned out, decide what to do from there. There is no point in investing all your time in something you don’t love.

Consider taking a break and leaving the door open to come back to the sport.

It wasn’t until I was a junior in college that I came to the realization there was nothing stopping me from giving gymnastics one last shot. Unfortunately by the time I realized this, I only had one more year of eligibility left for college. I learned that taking a break is a useful option, but not one without consequences. It is a time sensitive matter. Factor in at least a year of training to get back to where you were before you quit. It is not easy, but it’s something worth considering.

5. Don’t dwell on the negatives.

Sterling W. Sill said, “Hang on the walls of your mind the memory of your successes. Take counsel of your strength, not your weakness. Think of the good jobs you have done. Think of the times when you rose above your average level of performance and carried out an idea or a dream or a desire for which you had deeply longed. Hang these pictures on the walls of your mind and look at them as you travel the roadway of life.”

Successes don’t have to be big to celebrate. This is something I tried to remember in gymnastics, and something I’ve tried to carry on in my life after gymnastics. Every gymnastics journey is unique, but I hope these tips can help someone navigate their own. I wish you the best of luck with your gymnastics experience and hope the sport can be a positive contribution to your life as it has been in mine.

When Gymnastics Is Art

Aristotle once wrote that “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” We truly believe that when gymnasts find themselves passionate about their sport, their routines of sequenced skills become stories and artwork displaying the “inward significance” of their sport to them. Gymnastics can be beautiful artwork!  With this theme in mind, we thought it would be fun to  search for beautiful ARTWORK we could find of (and by) GYMNASTS!


This piece was our first and original inspiration for this post! Created by a wonderfully sweet and creative artist named Nancy Shaskey, this oil painting lovingly entitled, ‘The Old Gym-The Religion of Missy’s Window’, “was created to honor the hard work and commitment of all the coaches, students, and parents who dedicate their lives to the sport, business, and art of gymnastics.” Lucky for us, Jessie’s been able to meet Nancy Shaskey, see this painting first hand, and personally meet (and COACH) some of those who are depicted in it! As a matter of fact, she’s painted in it!!  Jessie is THE coach helping the two gymnasts in the background!  Nancy Shaskey even presented Jessie with this copy of the painting this past week! What an honor! Jessie was THRILLED!!

line-22 copy

We are also thrilled to share with you the many other pieces we found of gymnastics art via Instagram over the past few months and hope you’ll be as awe struck by them as we are!

Below is just a sampling of the inspiring art we have collected. Whether simple or complex, we are totally amazed and impressed by the talent of these artists!  We have even more fantastic pieces on deck, especially some amazing artistic depictions of Men’s Gymnastics, but we are still collecting pieces!  We’d love you to send us more that you do and/or find! Send it HERE or hashtag/mention us on instagram: @gymgabblog #GymGab

Each of these artists personally gave us permission to use and display his/her artwork on Gym Gab and we’d like to give a special thanks to each and every one of them! We are truly grateful and inspired by you! Please note their Instagram handles listed below.

gymnastics pictures

@fitlikemia | @that_one_girl_bella | @cksilva25

@imightdrawyou | @avareyw | @_gymnasts_only

@selahrsilva | @owlgolliz | @celebrity_miasmiley

@drawjessdraw | @dahliasoleil | @fiercefivexoxo

gymnastics pictures

@_wehavechalk_ | @_gymnast_world_ | @gabbyfanz

@chioramemo | @chioramemo | @chioramemo

@roman12d | @colour_me_prisma | @gracieegold_

@art_above_all | @sammymccollxo | @zeloticc

gymnastics pictures

@tansuezz | @gym_forever_love | @louiseio_

@gymalexa10drawings |@gymalexa10drawings | @golarisaiordache

@golarisaiordache | @golarisaiordache | @golarisaiordache

@gerardol93 | @gerardol93 | @golarisaiordache

Again, if you are an artist or would like to share your favorite gymnastics-themed artwork, you can (a) send it directly to us HERE , (b) take a picture of it and hashtag #GymGab or (c) give us a shout out (@gymgabblog) on Instagram! We’d love to spotlight your work!

Weekend Gab: Makenna

Part of being a gymnast is learning how to be a good teammate.  But sometimes we learn that we’re part of a bigger team than we think.  Let’s Gab about it!

weekendgabdisneyPhotos | Makenna and her family at the Disneyland Resort & Disneyland after attending Region 1 Championships

Two weekends ago, I (Makenna) attended the Region 1 championships in sunny California. The weather was nice, the food was excellent (thanks AGA), and the competition was fierce. It was a great weekend for our team – four of our level 10’s qualified to Nationals and our level 9 qualified to Westerns (it’s okay that I share my excitement for them, right!?!?). Of course these achievements made for some fun sessions, but it was the Level 8 State team session that stands out most in my mind as it offered our gymnasts a unique perspective on sportsmanship.

In case you are unfamiliar with how level 8 Regionals is run (it’s very similar to level 9/10 Nationals), here’s a quick synopsis: Each state sends their top 12 All Around qualifiers (from State Meet) to represent their “State Team” at the regional competition.  The last session of Level 8  Regional competition is reserved for the 12 qualifying gymnasts from each state to compete, state against state, for the TEAM title. This format provides a unique experience for these athletes: Gymnasts whom they were competing against just weeks before become their teammates and their allies.

As it shaped up this Regionals, 6 of our club gymnasts teamed up with 6 gymnasts from other clubs to represent our state.  Watching the girls unite together to cheer for and learn more about one another got me thinking: It’s interesting how changing “team boundaries” can create immediate camaraderie between athletes!   A slight shift in perspective allowed these athletes to include more individuals into their concept of “us.”  Their interest in other gymnasts’ successes became more genuine as they rallied together for a common goal: Winning the Team Title for their State.

In these upcoming weeks this expanding concept of “team” will happen again but this time for the Level 9s and 10s as they’ll unite with the top members of the Region to create a new identity of “us” at Nationals. And in two short years, the boundaries extend even further, uniting the Nation into one big USA “us” at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro Brazil. 

Realizing how easy it is to instill a genuine desire for the success of others simply by sharing a common goal (and/or opponent), the ability for all gymnasts to support all other gymnasts doesn’t seem so impossible after all. If anything, it seems quite easy!  My hope for my gymnasts is that they will see that the boundaries of “team” can include every gymnast in the world–for aren’t we all on Team Human? And isn’t our main opponent in gymnastics Team Gravity? When a gymnast lands her full-twisting double-back (no matter what club or country she is from), isn’t it some sort of victory for all Humankind?!  When a gymnast falls off the beam, shouldn’t we all feel sadness that Team Gravity won in that battle? 

Australian Snowboarder, Torah Bright, demonstrated this grander perspective of team during this past Winter Olympic Games on the slopes in Russia. reported her wonderful example of sportsmanship:

Kelly Clark [USA] is an Olympic veteran — but after a bad first run, hugs from her competitor are what helped her get back in the game to win a bronze medal in women’s halfpipe Wednesday night. 
“I was in the worst situation I’ve ever been in in an Olympic final,” Clark, who won gold in Salt Lake City and bronze in Vancouver, told “I thought I had nothing left to give.” While it was a situation she’d trained for with her coach, Clark was worried that her nerves would get the best of her — and so was her Australian competitor, Torah Bright.
“This girl was a champ for me,” Clark said about Bright, who won silver. “She saw how not in a good place I was and she gave me a hug, let me go, looked at me and said, ‘You actually need another one.’ And so she just held me until I actually calmed down enough and I slowed my breathing. It was good to have a hug from a friend.”

Torah Bright’s response to is one for the wall,

“The Olympics is about inspiring others. I am a competitor — I want to do my best — but I want my fellow competitors to do their best, too. What is the Olympic dream without the best bringing their best to the table?”
(to read all of this article, visit: HERE)

Sporting events can bring out the worst in people, but I believe they can also bring out the best. It is our responsibility to help our gymnasts cheer for themselves, for each other, and for their opponents.  In celebrating successes we can learn that victory doesn’t necessarily come only if someone else fails.  Victory comes when we realize that in someway, somehow we can all be on the same team.  

May we all root for one another and do our best to stack the points in our human-kind favor in the battle of US vs GRAVITY!


|learn more about Makenna here|


“How was gym today?” is a question every gym parent wants to ask their kid on the car ride home. Unfortunately this age-old, open-ended question loses it’s importance when the word “fine” become the oh-so common answer.  Here is a list of 25 questions to ask your athlete (not all in the same day of course), that will provide some welcome variety to you and your athlete!

25 Questions to ask your gymnast, other than how was workout? | Kids gymnastics


1. What were you most proud of at gym today?

2. What was the hardest thing you did today?

3. What correction do you remember the most today? And why?

4. What compliment do you remember most today?

5. What muscles do you think worked the hardest today?

6. Were you proud of any of your teammates today?

7. Who was a great example to you today? And why?

8. What was the funniest thing about gymnastics today?

9. If you could have worked only one skill today, what would it have been?

10. What was your favorite assignment today?

11. Pick one word to describe today’s workout.

12. On a scale of 1 to 10 how hard did you work today?

13. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much did you love workout today?

14. Pick one word to describe your attitude during workout.

15. What was the best thing about Beam today?

16. What was the best thing about Bars today?

17. What was the best thing about Floor today?

18. What was the best thing about Vault today?

19. If you weren’t at workout today, what would you have missed out on?

20. What made today better than yesterday?

21. Who inspired you at the gym today?

22. Right now, why are you glad you are a gymnast?

23. What do you want to do different tomorrow?

24. What skills will you be doing in your dreams tonight?

25. What weaknesses did you work towards turning into strengths today?