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!




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