Happy Easter!

easterpic
What do bunnies and lil gymnasts have in common? 

1)  They both love to HOP.
2) They both like carrots.
3) They both love SPRING (season or floors & boards).
4) They both are sweet and cuddly.
5) They both love to find tiny spaces to crawl into.
6) They both can be super hard to catch!
Can you think of any other similarities?
Easter7Instagram

Oh, and they both are just so darn cute! Put bunny ears on a lil gymnast and it may be too much cuteness to handle!

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Last Minute Easter Finds

One thing you must know about us is that we love holidays just about as much as gymnastics! Since Easter is this weekend, we thought we’d give you a few last minute ideas that would be perfect for a gymnastics-lover’s Easter Basket and/or Easter Eggs! Our trick to last minute shopping? Amazon Prime. Psst . . . you can try a 30 day FREE trial. Happy Easter from Gym Gab!

If you have any other great ideas, we’d love to hear about them!

AMAZONPRIME

1. Goodies: As we have mentioned within our healthy food posts (like the Grab & Go Snacks or Green Smoothies), we believe gymnasts need optimal nutrition to maintain their strength and energy. Instead of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, why not something healthy AND tasty?

V-8 Splash|Purchase at your local grocery store!
Annie’s Homegrown Organic Fruit Snacks | Amazon Prime | Shaped like bunnies!

2. Gymnastics Books: While writing your own gymnastics story through history, its always fun to read someone else’s along the way! Surely, if not anything else, having a good book to read on the way to and from gym is a great way to focus for practice! Here are options for all ages, from autobiographies to picture books to youth fiction.

Gemma the Gymnastics Fairy | Amazon Prime
Gymnastics Fun Strawberry Shortcake | Amazon Prime
The Gymnastics Series | Amazon Prime
Grace, Gold, & Glory My Leap of Faith | Amazon Prime
Gymnastics Psychology: The Ultimate Guide | Amazon Prime
Makenna-Ready to Fly! | Amazon Prime | Remember how Makenna use to coach (and her husband currently coaches) the REAL girl used for the illustrations of this book? Check it out here.

3. Gym Garb: Everyone loves a new outfit for the new season. And when you’re last minute shopping, there is nothing better than a gift card! Not to mention teens are appreciative of the opportunity to pick out THEIR favorite style.

Destira Leotards Gift Card
GK Elite Leotards Gift Card
Ozone Leotards Gift Card

4. Gymnastics Trinkets: Who doesn’t love little details that show how much you love gymnastics? If an “I Love Gymnastics” t-shirt is a little too loud for your taste, maybe one of these would satisfy your need to claim gymnastics as your favorite sport!

Gymnastics Phone Case | Amazon Prime
Mogo Flip for You charms & Charmband | Amazon Prime
Gymnastics Bottlecap Necklaces | Amazon Prime

 

LIVED, LOVED & LEARNED: TESSA REES

There are moments in every gymnast’s lives that play back to them over and over again shaping their mind and their memory of themselves as a gymnast. One such memory, I (Jessie) am pleased and grateful to share with one of my former gymnasts, Tessa. This little gymnast (now a grown woman) was always mature beyond her years and taught me, along with many of her teammates, valuable lessons about how to be tough, tender, and talented. She’s a gem and we’re excited she’s come here today to tell us about this memory I speak of. Welcome, Tessa Rees!

tessa

I am really excited for this chance to be here on Gym Gab! And I’m especially excited to talk about what we all love: Gymnastics! I look back on my years as a gymnast with so much joy and I often finding myself wishing I could go back to that time. As I reflect on the things I learned as a gymnast, I could go on for hours about things like patience, respect, hard work, positivity, focus, sacrifice, discipline, teamwork, endurance, and so much more. But what I am going to focus on today is endurance. Gymnastics can be a grueling sport. We vault on shin splints, tumble on sore wrists, swing with ripped hands, and condition through burning muscles and tired bodies. We are asked to do 10 more seconds of a handstand, even though our arms are completely fatigued and asking us to STOP! Gymnasts learn to push through soreness, tired muscles, ripped hands, etc. because they know that the benefits of doing so will outweigh the pain, discomfort, and mental fatigue of it all.

I had the awesome opportunity to be coached by your own Jessie Eyre! One day while I was swinging bars during a private lesson with Jessie I got a nasty rip on my hand. She asked me if I would like to stop or keep going and I responded, “I like bars more than I hate rips,” and then kept swinging. Jessie thought that what I said was so cool that she immediately went over and wrote it on the gym’s white board where it remained as a favorite quote at the gym for the next several years! I was so naive at the time and didn’t realize the significance of that statement until later in life.

“I like bars more than I hate rips,”

I see now that as a young gymnast, I was already learning that sometimes we have to do hard things in order to enjoy good and better things. I’ve often thought about this quote throughout my life and find that it applies to countless other things… “I like running more than I hate feeling out of shape” or “I love this little baby more than I hate missing so many hours of sleep!” It works for just about anything!

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Later in my gymnastics years my body wouldn’t cooperate and I was plagued with injury after injury. There came a time when I couldn’t just “push through” challenges like I did with the rips I spoke of earlier. I had to sit on the sidelines and wait for injuries to heal again and again and again. At times I just wanted to give up but my love for the sport wouldn’t let me. Through these tough times, I learned how to endure the frustration, work through the discomfort, and push even harder after the injuries healed to get back to where I was. I learned to strive for something that I loved, even when it was a challenge. And that is one of the greatest things about gymnastics; It can be really hard…but it is also filled with SO MUCH happiness and joy! Just like life!!

So, when you watch your son or daughter struggling, aching, and pushing through tears and frustration, remember this: They are learning lessons that will make them better equipped for life. They will be better at pushing through the hard stuff and knowing that it will be worth it.

It was worth it for me.

-Tessa

Green Smoothie Goddess

As Spring is upon us, we can’t help but notice all of the GREEN greeting us at every turn.  One thing that we’ve thought a lot about is introducing you to The Green Smoothie Goddess, a dear friend and mother of a darling gymnast that Jessie once coached.  Liz Phalp is known for her love and commitment not only to her family but also to drinking green smoothies and she’s generous enough to share her thoughts (and even a favorite Green Smoothie recipe) with Gym Gab! Drink it all up!

Why Every Gymnast (and Gymnast’s Mom) Really Needs To Be Drinking Green Smoothies
By Liz Phalp

greensmoothie

To be totally open here, I think everyone would be better off drinking a green smoothie every day. I especially think athletes need the nourishment from green smoothies, even more than someone living a sedentary lifestyle. That sometimes surprises people but here is why:

Regular strenuous exercise without a nutrient rich diet will speed degeneration of the cells and the aging process. Recovery time between workouts can be significantly shorter when the body is given the necessary nutrients to speed the renewal of muscle tissue.

That makes sense right? When we work our muscles during exercise, or a strenuous gymnastics practice full of conditioning and repetitive skills training, we tear down muscle fibers. This makes way to build stronger, newer fibers, but only if we are also providing the material to build that from. Otherwise, recovery will take longer and injuries will become a bigger problem.

And what about cold and flu season that seems to make it so difficult to stay consistent with gymnastics practice? An absence of enzymes in your diet can result in the same sickness and disease associated with malnutrition, even if your diet is otherwise healthy.

So why green smoothies? Greens (the leaf part of a plant, not just anything green) are the most nutritious part of any plant. They can have 2 to 150 times the amount of vitamins that you would find in a different part of the same plant (say the root or fruit). We just don’t get the amount of greens in our diet that we need. Even if we are eating a salad every day (which I do recommend), we can get so much more in a smoothie (I put half a pound in one smoothie, that’s a full bag of spinach). We also absorb it so much better since it is almost predigested for us when we blend it. It would take a lot of chewing to break it down like our blender will. And since the greens and fruits in our smoothies are raw, we keep the enzymes in tact.

Also, green smoothies are delicious. I’ve only had one person ever who just could not drink a green smoothie. So many kids (and adults) who don’t like to eat any vegetables, have asked for seconds when I’ve made them a green smoothie. When you blend greens with the right combination of fruits, and with a good, high speed blender, you don’t taste the greens at all.

The basic formula for a green smoothie is ⅓ greens, ⅓ fruit and ⅓ liquid. Usually at least half of my fruit is frozen. If not I replace some of the water with ice.

blendtcOrange Banana Mango Recipe:
Ingredients:
½ lb kale
2 oranges
2 frozen bananas
1 cup chopped mango
1 cup water
Directions:
Put the oranges in the blender first, then add about a cup of water, the kale (or spinach or other greens), mango, and bananas. Blend.
Make it a fun presentation (fancy cup or fun straw) and it will have a better chance of competing with the abundance of fun junk food out there.

Hint:I like to throw my greens in the freezer since they can get slimy so fast, just don’t buy greens that are frozen since they are so often blanched as part of the freezing process (killing enzymes).

Drink 1 quart of this a day and you’ll be among the top 1% of healthiest people in the U.S.

Try it for a couple of weeks and see what you notice. Decreased craving for sweets, better digestion, better sleep, more energy, weight loss, these are just a few of the very common benefits of drinking green smoothies. These are all things I want for me and my little athletes.

-Liz

Gym Gab Fan – AVA

One of our favorite things about authoring a gymnastics blog is getting to meet new people! To celebrate all of our wonderful fans & new friends, we would like to introduce a new SPOTLIGHT series – GYM GAB FAN. Because gymnastics is not only a sport but also a lifestyle, we are excited and anxious to share the many different stories of gymnasts we’ve come across, followed, and become fans of.  As they’ve become fans of -US- (Gym Gab), we thought it would be fun to show the rest of our followers how a lifestyle filled with gymnastics experiences and memories (such as theirs) is open to everyone!  

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Meet Ava, a spunky three-year-old gymnast from Tulsa, Oklahoma! Ava’s Momma, Brianna (that’s fun to say), sent us a sweet email a couple of weeks ago sharing how much she enjoyed our blog. Thanks Brianna! Encouraged to know more about our fan, we skimmed through her daughter’s Instagram account @avagraceplace and were immediately intrigued by the many adorable faces of Ava.

GGFAN-AVAPhotography | Rep Photos 

We had to know what inspired this cutie to flash the most amazing smile while in her gymnastics gear! After hearing her darling (and very animated) responses, we were thrilled to learn what makes  the sport of gymnastics so great in Ava’s eyes! We hope you enjoy her and her Momma’s Q & A session as much as we did. Our favorite? Ava’s “funniest comment after gym”. Enjoy!

Interview with Ava

Who is your coach and what makes her special?
Ms. Lexi, she’s so funny!

What’s something your coach always tells you?
She tells me to flip. JUMP and THEN . . . flip.

Why do you do gymnastics?
Because they let me flip!

What’s the coolest trick in gymnastics?
Jump, press, finish!

What’s your favorite healthy food that makes you strong?
Apples and a . . . what’s it called? Oh yeah, PEANUT BUTTER!

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A little Elsa (she has powers).

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Interview with Brianna

What does Ava LOVE about gymnastics?
She loves to flip and jump on the beam.

What’s the funniest thing Ava’s ever said after gymnastics class?
“Whew! My guns and buns are burning!”

What other activities does Ava enjoy besides gymnastics?
Dancing, modeling, and cheering.

In what ways has gymnastics contributed to life outside of the gym?
Ava is more willing to try new things even if they seem scary.

What monkey-like abilities does Ava portray at home?
She flips on the couch and casts on our low pull-up bar.

What is the hardest thing about being a gym mom?
Watching my daughter practice without sideline coaching!

Thanks Ava and Brianna for sharing a few tidbits of your gymnastics life!

If you’re a fan of Gym Gab, let us (and all your friends!) know!  Spread the word about us as we have fun spreading the word about YOU!!!

 P.S. You can spread the word by following us on Facebook (like our page!), Pinterest (gymgabblog) and Instagram (@gymgabblog)!

Road Trip Free Printables

Time flies when you’re having fun–and this season must have been pretty awesome because a lot of you are working toward Regionals!!! Yikes and YAY!!!

Makenna will make her way to Regionals on a plane later this week, but many of her gymnasts and their families are making the ten hour drive! Because Jessie has an irrational fear of flying, she thought those who prefer road trips would appreciate some printables to pass the time (if not driving to regionals, then perhaps driving somewhere fun for Spring Break)!

FREE PRINTABLES: Gymnastics Mad Gabs, Crossword, Word Search, and a License Plate Game! Great for road trips to competitions. | Gym Gab Blog
To all those hitting the road (or the sky), we hope you’ll have a FUN and SAFE drive (flight) wherever you’re going!

P.S. Hashtag us (#GymGab) or give our handle (@gymgabblog) a shoutout on instagram when you do handstands or any other fun gymnastics tricks on your roadtrips! We’d love to see them–and we might even repost them!

P.P.S If you are attending Region 1’s competition at Disneyland, hashtag #handstandatdisneyland and tag us so we can see a pic of you upside-down at the happiest place on earth!

GAB LIBS 1  

GAB LIBS 2 

GAB LIBS 3 

CrossWord 

Word Search 

License Plate Game 

WHAT EXACTLY IS A SIX-PACK?

I (Jessie) think many (if not ALL) of us have ooohed and awwwwed over some nice sets of abs we like to call a six-pack. I’m betting that if you have a gymnast in your home, you’re more than aware of their existence. But why are they called six-packs and how in the blazes do you get one?

What exactly is a Six Pack? And how do gymnasts get them!?!?
Jessie’s son unintentionally showing off his six pack, mid-laugh! 

Well, the easy answer is that they look like a six pack of soda or dinner rolls from the bird’s eye view: six nicely rounded balls of pure muscle. You get them by working hard and eating right. But that’s too easy for GymGab. Lets get technical!

Those pretty muscles (actually, its ONE muscle) under the ribs is actually called the Rectus Abdominus (Recked-us Ab-dohm-in-us) muscle and it has the very important role in maintaining a person’s posture. It is not only responsible for that, as it also assists in the mechanism of breathing and keeping our innards in place. It is also a key contributor to the flexing of the lumbar spine–which, in gymnastics, is absolutely necessary.

The Rectus Abdominus is a long, flat muscle which makes its way down the entire front of the abdomen and is separated down the middle by a fibrous structure called the Linea Alba (Lin-EE-ya Al-buh)–which, having had three children, is to thank for allowing my abs to STRETTTTTCH to an enormous size without me ripping in half (as I thought I might). Each section is then separated into three unequal sections (though, on some bellies, they sure look equal to me!) by cartilage attached to the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs. Not too complicated, eh?!

To get these muscles, one must do several things–also not too complicated–unless you’re unwilling to give up a few things and start working hard. The first is to NOT drink a six-pack of soda. As a matter of fact, do quite the opposite. Take all the soda in your house, hoist it over your head, and throw it as far as you possibly can! Not only is this flexing the lumbar spine which works the abdominal muscles, it is also getting rid of a HUGE contributing factor to weight gain and pot bellies!

Without getting too in depth with nutrition (which I hope to do in later posts) just remember that a diet low in simple & refined sugars/carbs, and high in nutrient dense foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, etc. will get you much closer to having the chiseled abs that your gymnast [probably] has!

“But my gymnast LOVES sugar and eats all that stuff and she still has a six-pack!” Well, to you, my friend, I want to remind you that A–s/he is working out several hours a day, B–s/he is much younger than you, and C–have you seen the type of stuff they do?!

Gymnasts do innumerable exercises for core (aka mid-section) strength like crunches, sit ups, leg lifts, V-snaps, pull-overs, glide-swings, press-handstands, handstand holds, push-ups, etc. Just about everything your gymnast does in the gym is a workout for his/her ab–the rectus abdominus, the transverse abdominus, and internal & external abdominal obliques.

Getting a six-pack is pretty dang hard—but EARNING one isn’t all that tough. You just have to put in the work. We’ve got another goal for you, as a gymnastics parent: Work on your abs this year!

We’d love to see pictures of tough parent/child abs! We’ll post them if you’ve got them! Good luck and let us know how you feel while you work on it! And remember, when it comes to abs, a six-pack is worth much more than a keg!

Meet Season Good To Knows

The answers to your basic gymnastics competition questions . . . can you skip a level? When do you start competing? What event do you go to next? How are judges certified? And more! | Gym Gab Blog

It’s time for some Junior Olympic Meet Season Facts! Here are simple answers to common questions we heard in the stands this year. Please note that our answers apply to the Women’s JO levels 1-10. Although some information may apply to the Xcel program as well, we will provide more detailed information for that program in the future. 

WHAT LEVELS COMPETE?

Although it is not required to compete levels 1, 2, and 3, as they are considered developmental levels, more states are now holding competitions for these beginning levels. USAG Levels 4 & 5 make up the required compulsory levels. Levels 6 – 10 are considered Optional levels due to the nature of their routine structure. Each level is given a required skill set or difficulty level, but Optional routines are not pre-choreographed by USAG. Gymnasts usually compete in levels 4-10 before they reach either an Elite or Collegiate level. Some athletes choose to forgo these levels and compete exclusively within the TOP’s or HOPES programs.  (The USAG Junior Olympic levels were altered Fall of 2013 – see our post for more information). 

JUDGES?

The Judges at meets aren’t just random gymnastics fans who were asked to come watch each event. No, quite the contrary. According to the National Association of Women’s Gymnastics Judges (NAWGJ), in order to officiate/judge a gymnastics meet, each individual in their navy blue and white uniformed outfits are required to take a series of tests (a written exam for compulsory levels and a written plus practical film exam for higher levels). They must also maintain rankings of each judgeship for at least a year before testing for the next level higher, along with becoming members of the NAWGJ, the USAG, and successfully passing their safety certifications (ie. CPR, Fire Safety, etc.).

5 Things you Probably Didn’t Know About Gymnastics Judges

WHEN ARE THE COMPETITIONS?

Optional level (6-10) competition season is fairly unified across the nation. It begins around the first of the year and runs through Spring (State in March, Regionals in April & Nationals in May). Because compulsory levels do not compete at Regional or National qualifying competitions, level 1-5 competition seasons are more varied. Most states choose to hold Fall compulsory competitions seasons, while others compete in Winter or Spring. Some states even host multiple seasons within the same year. Most gymnastics clubs will have a few pre- season meets called intrasquads that are held within the club and often judged by certified judges who help the gymnasts and coaches see and understand where start values (we’ll touch on what that means later) and scores might expect to be given going into the season. These intrasquad scores do not count on a state or national level.

AGE REQUIREMENTS?

USAG requires a minimum age requirement for competition. Gymnasts must be the following ages or older to compete in the designated level:

Level 1:           4 years old
Level 2:           5 years old
Level 3:           6 years old
Levels 4 – 7:   7 years old
Levels 8 & 9:  8 years old
Level 10:         9 years old

The age groups (for awards) are regulated by the age at which each gymnast will be on the last 
day of the State Competition (Regional Competition for Level 8’s).  For example, if your gymnast is 7 years old all throughout the season but will be 8 years old on or before State Meet, your gymnast will be considered in the 8 year old age group. 

USAG MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS?

Every gymnast who is age-eligible to compete must apply for and receive an individual USAG number by becoming a member of the USA Gymnastics federation. A USAG Membership includes a membership card, secondary insurance coverage within each sanctioned meet, a subscription to the USAG Magazine, and discounts for seasonal apparel and education courses within the USAG year. Each membership is good for only one competition season.

COMPLETING LEVELS?

Each gymnast, if able, although rare, may compete in more than one level per year. However, once a gymnast has competed in a State Meet at a certain level, they are not allowed to drop back to a level below that which they competed in. There is no rule regarding how many times a gymnast can or must compete each level. Gymnasts are not allowed to skip levels 4-9 (with the exception of level 6)–unless they are 14 years of age or older or entering into high school. If this is the case they are allowed to begin their competitive experience starting with level 6 or 7. Gymnasts are not required to compete an entire season at each level, but they must receive the required one-time score (a 31.00 AA or higher in levels 4-7 and a 34.00 AA or higher in levels 8 & 9) at a sanctioned meet before advancing to the next level.

ORDER OF EVENTS?

In Junior Olympic gymnastics, all competitions should follow the Olympic Order of Events. For women’s events, that order is vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and then the floor exercise. Everyone has a different opinion as to which event is “the best” to begin on, but no matter where you start, your next rotation will be that of which comes next according to the Olympic Order. (For example, if you start on bars you will always rotate to beam afterwards).

SCORING?

Each of the branches of the USAG have a unique scoring system devised by the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) and is governed by the Code of Points. These systems are based on the level of difficulty of skills, the fluidity of movement, the execution of the skills, and for women’s gymnastics, also for the artistry presented. This can get crazy complicated, so we’ll touch on that more in another post…but for now, you can read further on USA Gymnastics website.

We’re excited and determined to clarify all of your questions and hope to give you a whole collection of good-to-know bits of information along the way! If you have specific questions that you’d like us to address sooner than later, contact us HERE.

WEEKEND GAB: JESSIE

Two weekends ago my son had his first State Meet and I concluded my first season as a Gymnastics Mom as opposed to a Gymnastics Coach. I went into the season worrying about how everything would go for both my son and me but then left the season with a new understanding of why I didn’t need to care so much.

Let’s Gab about it.

Weekend Gab with Gymnastics Mom & Gym Coach Jessie | Gym Gab Blog

Last August I started having trouble breathing. I felt like my lungs were weak, that I couldn’t reach the full height of my inhale, and that the air I could get in felt muggy and thick. Within a few days of this (and several hours on Web MD), I worried myself into thinking I was quickly withering away and that without professional help, I was all but gone. Feeling frantic and desperate, I visited several doctors on both ends of the healthcare spectrum (western medicine through natural & holistic healing) and took on all kinds of tests, x-rays, medications, and fancy things like acupressure, herbs, and energy healing that didn’t produce many answers.

I felt like I was suffocating from all of it until one sweet doctor (along with several close friends) pointed out that what I was experiencing could very well be less about something specific going wrong within my body as much as it could have been more closely related to the stress and anxiety I was bringing on myself from all the busy schedules I was keeping and all the worry I take on because of them. After reading some great material and doing some serious introspection, I realized that I was, in fact, expending a lot of energy worrying about and caring too much about things that weren’t necessary. The first step in my recovery was, actually, to take a step back and learn which things I was worrying too much over and which things were really worth caring about. In order to breathe healthier, I had to THINK healthier.

When my 6 year old started competing in his first level 4 competitions this winter, I found myself, once again, worrying too much–but this time it was about how the season would go. To begin with, I knew, first-hand after having been a gymnast, all about the thrill and pressure of competing. I remember how satisfying receiving ribbons and medals could be as rewards for hard work I’d put into practice all season. I also remember the blow a bad meet had had on my self-confidence. I worried that my little one would have too many emotional highs and lows throughout the season for me to handle.

Secondly, having coached many competitive gymnasts, I’ve seen far too many parents stretch their necks to catch every single score of every single gymnast to prematurely calculate the outcome of meets (which always leads to feelings of overwhelming joy or frustration depending on which number their gymnast would stand above on the podium)…so then I worried that -I- would have too many emotional highs and lows for my son to handle.

Worry worry worry.

But then the meet season began and quickly, within the first two competitions, I noticed that my son didn’t even think about, let alone, care about anything I had been worrying over. He didn’t care about what score was flashed across the screen; He didn’t worry about how much better his teammate did than him or where he was placed in the line-up. All he cared about was getting a little approval treat from his coach, finding things to giggle about with his teammates throughout the meet, and earning a medal or two that he could take home to show his grandparents. With the help of my reading and this realization, I quickly learned that I needn’t hold my breath waiting for scores or breathe a sigh of relief when another gymnast didn’t stick a landing because, to my son, those things didn’t matter to him. If he wasn’t going to deflate over all the little details, then I didn’t need to either.

And so that’s how the season went! Aside from a few moments where he showed signs of disappointment in himself, the season went without a hitch for our family. After every meet we laughed about his favorite moments, talked about the flubs he wasn’t so proud of, and then went out to ice cream regardless of how many ribbons or medals he brought home (which, gratefully, he earned enough of to feel satisfied with).

Being so young and so freshly dipped into the world of competition, my 6 year old gymnast was able to remind me that I could literally suffocate myself over things that hadn’t even crossed his mind. In the gymnastics world and outside of it, if we can just let those unnecessary worries go, everyone will feel a whole lot better! And, in all honesty, it WORKS! Not only are my breathing issues significantly improving, we are all able to enjoy a lot more breathing room as we teach our gymnast about things he should really be caring about–like finding opportunities to improve, learning to have respect for his coaches, his teammates, judges, and opponents, and loving the experiences he is having as a fine young gymnast.

Every athlete cares about his/her sport in different ways and with different intensities.  I’m sure that one day my son will (probably) care a lot more about scores and opponents–but until that day comes, -I- won’t worry about them either [deep-long-satisfying-sigh].

– JESSIE

Grounds to Workout

Happy First Day of Spring!

As coaches (and let’s be honest, as women) we are huge advocates of the word “workout,” but as mothers, we are also huge fans of the words “get out”–as in GET OUT DOORS. We love that spring is finally here and with the warmer days comes more time outside! Today, as we celebrate our first blogger link-up organized by our friends at Oh So Delicioso (remember their delicious protein smoothie they shared with us here), we want to give you a fun way to get a WORK OUT as you and your kids GET OUT to enjoy the weather at the park sometime soon!

Spring Fling Banner
Psst . . . see below for other blogger’s spring inspired posts and a chance to win the Spring Fling Giveaway (worth over $600) – gym mom’s this one’s for you!

Since we have so many parents requesting lists of gymnastics exercises that they, themselves, can do, we put together a few basic sets that we thought would get you off the park bench and into better shape! We may not look all that graceful doing these for you (remember we are currently coaches, formerly gymnasts), but we sure had fun! So did our kids!

Playground Workout | Momma Muscles | Gym Gab Blog

LEG LIFTS:

Please excuse our pictures. We were laughing too hard to get anything useful, so you’re just going to have to laugh with us. Laughing is a great ab workout, so that’s just another gift to you from us. Find a bar to hang on, making sure you aren’t too high and that your arms aren’t too far apart (we suggest just past shoulder width). Stretch your legs to be straight under you and then pull your knees up so that your hips are 90 degrees to your thighs or higher, then lower them back to a straight hang. We suggest trying to get in 5-10 lifts per set.
[muscles worked: abs, fore arms, hip flexors]

Playground Workout | Momma Muscles | Gym Gab Blog

INCLINED PUSH-UPS:

Place your feet or knees on a surface higher than your hands making sure your hips are flat (squeeze your bum) and your stomach is in (squeeze your abs) in a “plank” position. Then, in classic push-up style, bend your arms (elbows out and away from your hands) until your chest is as close to the ground as possible before pushing back up into the plank position. We suggest working up to 15-20 repetitions.
[muscles worked: chest, abs, arms, lats, traps]


Playground Workout | Momma Muscles | Gym Gab Blog

TRICEP DIPS:

Find a place where there are two bars/walls/surfaces that are equal height and wide enough to fit between. Squeeze your abs and lift your legs up, gently lowering yourself by bending your arms letting your chest shift forward a little to balance your weight. Once you are as low as you’re comfortable with, push your hands down on the surfaces and lift your body back up. If this seems too hard, start by lowering yourself just an inch or two. We suggest working toward a full arm bend and doing 10-20 repetitions.
[muscles worked: triceps, back, abs]

Playground Workout | Momma Muscles | Gym Gab Blog

CALF RAISES:

Find a surface that is higher than the ground. Stand on the edge with only your toes on the surface and your heels off of it. Start by raising high onto your toes keeping your weight between your first (big) and second toe. Squeeze your abs, bum, and knees while slowly lowering your heels down below the level of your toes. Feel the stretch in your calf muscle before raising back onto your high toes. You can also do this one leg at a time if you’re up for the challenge. We suggest 20-50 repetitions.
[muscles worked: gastrocnemius (calf muscles)]

 

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Spring Fling Giveaway!

Enter using Rafflecopter Below. Giveaway ends SUNDAY.
A special thank you to October Ink for the beautiful spring graphic.

1-Spring-Fling_giveaway-collage

1. A Tory Birch Wallet in Cantaloupe | Nordstrom |$195
2. Voucher to Jane.com . . . get what ever you like | $50
3. Take a Bow Skirt in Mint | Leanne Barlow | $125
4. Emma Magazine Spring Issue | $23.80
5. Sweet Dried Fruit Crisps in 4 flavors | Simple and Crisp |$20
6. 14k solid gold butterfly charm with diamond/ 18″ fine gold chain | Helen Ficalora | $330

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 Check out these great blogs for more Spring Fling Fun!


Forget Luck

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We wish you all the luck of the Irish today, but hope you really won’t need it! Why?! Here at Gym Gab, we hope to provide some tools that will leave you feeling more empowered and less dependent on luck!

Happy St. Patricks Day from Gym Gab Blog | Visualizing tricks so you're not dependant on LUCK!
Leotards from Destira & GK Elite

At our gym every week, we find time to dedicate ourselves to “Brain Conditioning” during practice. This is a time where our gymnasts tap into their power of thought; a sometimes forgotten, yet very important skill we all have and can use in the gym, at home, before competitions, and just about anywhere else. Gymnasts/Athletes aren’t the only ones who can benefit from Brain Conditioning, so learning the basics of it can be useful to everyone!

One of the most important aspects of “Brain Conditioning” is visualization; aka seeing what you want to happen in your mind. Read |HERE| for an interesting (and popular) study of athletes and the correlation between visualization and performance.

Here are GymGab’s 5 Lucky Visualization Tips we’ve come up with for you today!

1. Visualize in a place with minimal distractions. Our gymnasts frequently sit on the beam to visualize beam routines, or stand on the vault runway while visualizing their vault skills. Though these may not seem the most obvious place to feel calm and collected (as we’d suggest), what matters most is finding a comfortable place that encourages clear, precise, and positive images of goals and skills in mind. Some athletes find playing inspiring or relaxing music while they visualize another way to stave off outside distractions.

Gymnastics Visualization Tips

2. Details are important! All of the five senses should be tapped into. For example, while thinking of a bar routine at a competition, envision you wearing your competition leotard, feel the rhythm of the bar swing, smell the hairspray wafting through the air as it flings about, hear the creaking of the bar cables, and taste the chalk in the air. Noticing even the smallest details will solidify the experience into the subconscious to help muscles replay them later on.

3. Visualize an exceptional performance. If fears or flaws make their way into the mental picture refocus and start over. Condition the mind to visualize only the things that are positive and productive. The beauty of “Brain Conditioning” exercises is that it is a time when the mind is in complete control of the body and what it does. Use that power to build upon skills rather than break them down. Hands won’t rip with repetition of the mind.

4. Visualize in the First Person. This is the most effective form of visualization. Sometimes we refer to it as “from the mind’s eye.” You should see the world as you do everyone day. . . peering out of your body. Explaining this concept can be hard, but we use words like, “See your arms and legs, but not your face,” “Notice the beam beneath your feet,” “Feel your fingers pressing back and high during your salute,” etc. This allows the experience to be personal rather than observed.

5. Third Person Visualization can also be useful. This is where the image of skills/routines are projected of one’s self and watched rather than experienced. The advantage of observing one’s self is being able to analyze and refine skills that consciously need improvement. Also, seeing one’s self is another way to realize how well you are actually doing. Be impressed with yourself!

1984 Olympic Gold Medalist, Peter Vidmar share’s his thoughts on visualization (YOUTUBE)

Everyone can use a little luck now and then, but hopefully with these tips for having successful visualization, you’ll rely less on luck and more on your mind and body–a dynamic duo for sure!

Weekend Gab: Makenna

As women, as coaches, and especially as mothers, we (Jessie & Makenna) spend a lot of time talking. We like to GAB–which is one reason we LOVE having a place to put our thoughts and feelings and one reason we call our blog Gym GAB.

We’d like to preface our first WEEKEND GAB post by saying that we are really excited to have this opportunity to share with you bits and pieces of our lives and how gymnastics is integrated so fully within. We hope that our blog will get YOU gabbing more about gymnastics and that you’ll always know that someone out there loves to gab about it, too.

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Weekend Gab w/ Coach Makenna | Are we spending too much time in the gym?Picks from the week: Makenna & her oldest playing @ the gym  | Jimmy (Makenna’s hubby) @ Hopes Qualifier | Makenna & her youngest covered in chalk @ early morning workout

Gymnasts spend A LOT of hours in the gym. Are we crazy?! Let’s GAB about it!

Jessie and I live about 5 minutes apart (if you walk) in wonderful communities filled with young families, baby bumps galore, and newborns more numerous than most people could imagine. This week we started talking about how so many of our friends and neighbors seem to be raising more and more kids at younger and younger ages that are closer and closer together than either of us thought possible. Jessie and I laughed as we questioned how they do it while we have such frequent feelings of being overwhelmed with the two (Makenna) and three (Jessie) kids that we already have?! It was all too easy to sympathize with each other and ask, “Are they crazy!?!”

After a second of reflection, we realized, no, they are [probably] not crazy. It might be crazy for US to try to manage what they seem to do so gracefully and easily, but that doesn’t mean those families aren’t functioning in just the right ways for themselves. We are all given different talents, desires, opportunities and capabilities–and we concluded that managing a gaggle of kids so close together would probably not come as our greatest strengths.

And then I realized I DO manage a bundle of kids every day of the week–though they be not my own–and I do NOT feel crazy. Between them and my two daughters, I spend most of my time teaching young ladies how to do things gracefully and easily–be it how to share Barbies (my own youngins) or how to perform a confident beam routine.

Frequently,  I’m asked if the parents of my gymnasts are crazy for letting them train around twenty hours per week or if the gymnasts are crazy for coming in for early morning practices, attending a half day of school, and then taking a home-study course to make up the remainder of their schoolwork all in the name of the TOPS/Hopes program?

To that, I say No. We are not crazy. None of us! We love this life and it works well for us! I find great joy in spending my coaching hours with my young group of talented gymnasts who show great potential–not only in gymnastics but in life itself. They, too, find joy in knowing that they were invited to join our team because they were a rare breed of hard-working kids whose DESIRE to be in the gym was as great as their physical abilities.

But then again comes that word CRAZY. Isn’t it crazy that these girls are spending so much time in the gym and perhaps not enough time with family? Family time is a BIG deal to me! So, we discussed it with their families and came up with our morning workout/on-line learning course schedule that allows the girls to have more free-time with their families. This has also allowed me and my husband to have easy hand-offs with our own children lending even more family time for us. Win, Win!

What would be crazy to us is not doing it. Our gymnast wake up aching (sometimes literally AND figuratively) to get into the gym to get that much closer to their dreams of becoming collegiate, elite, or international athletes, and I wake up excited to satisfy their cravings! Sometimes it’s the parents who find the enthusiasm a bit crazy, but we are continually grateful and amazed by their support and encouragement each early morning no matter how dark it may be outside. We WANT to be there–and that’s a crazy thing to try to explain.

But, herein lies a fine line. The potential for anyone to go crazy comes when the gymnast’s desire does not equal that of the demand. We, as coaches, parents, and even gymnasts have to be careful to not lose sight of what the purpose of gymnastics training is. If, suddenly, the only focus is an expectation to win, advance, qualify, or make it into the next superb team, we would all go crazy. By inviting too much pressure into practice, our commitment is lent to external achievements instead of internal ones such as the joy of learning, the fun of being with teammates, and the excitement of conquering fears.

A perfect example of this is when one of our gymnasts wanted to come back to gym just three days after her father passing away. Some might have thought it a crazy idea, but to her, it was crazy not to. Gym was a place that sheltered her from the struggles she faced outside of the gym; another place to feel loved and supported. It offered her a home away from home! If the gym is a place that provides positive growth and opportunity, then what is so crazy about wanting to spend as much time as possible there!?

Everyone has something they do that, for the outside eye, may seem crazy. Whether it be raising a gaggle of children (as with some of the families in our communities) or training a gaggle of children in the gym, what matters most is that we love what we do. We’ve got to be crazy about it to make it worth it, right? Someone’s got to be crazy about gymnastics and I’m thankful for family and friends that are as crazy about it as me!

Hope your weekend is wonderful!

– MAKENNA