Gymnastics is one of the oldest sports in the world, dating back thousands of years. It has evolved over long time to become the sport of many disciplines including artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics, aerobic gymnastics and parkour. Because of the exquisite routines and choreography, rhythmic gymnastics is one of the most closely followed and intensely competed events in the Olympics. Due to its popularity there are a lot of myths that have come up about it. Here are 7 most popular of them.
Myth # 1: Any girl can be a gymnast
it's not quite like that. Of course, any girl can practice rhythmic gymnastics and have fun while improving her body. But when it comes to professional rhythmic gymnastics training that’s quite different. Rhythmic gymnastics is perhaps one of a few sports in which an athlete must combine two of the most important qualities: strength and lightness. Add to these flexibility: the most successful gymnasts usually were naturally flexible. Attractive appearance and beautiful body are also very important in rhythmic gymnastics. But besides physical characteristics listed above there are even more important things that make a girl a successful gymnast: the ability to work hard, to fight with obstacles, to obey the coach, plus self-discipline and self-motivation. Predicting the future for a young athlete is almost impossible. Girls typically start being engaged in rhythmic gymnastics at 4-5 years old, and during future 10 years they grow up and change - each in its unique way.
Myth #2: Age does not matter to start rhythmic gymnastics classes
Of course, if you decide what is called exercise for yourself, then you can be 50 years old, but if you want to make a competitive rhythmic gymnast out of your child, then it is better to enroll her to rhythmic gymnastics classes at the age of 3-5 years when the muscles are still soft. For more information on how an early start benefits your child please check this article: Rhythmic Gymnastics: The Benefits of Starting Early.
Myth #3: Gymnasts do not eat
Of course gymnasts do eat, or otherwise where do they get power for intensive 4-5 hours training and strength to perform these tricky routines we watch at gymnastics competitions?! The truth is that gymnasts have to eat wisely and choose foods with high nutritional value. Of course, donuts and burgers are not included in the diet of athletes, but maybe this is not bad?
Enrolling your child in rhythmic gymnastics classes get ready to keep a close eye on your child’s diet and weight. Otherwise, your gymnast may have serious health problems, not to mention that excess weight affects performance.
There is an opinion that rhythmic gymnasts have to give up certain products - or even categories of products. This is not true: you will never have to give up anything. The truth is that a serious review of your diet is inevitable and a significant reduction in the consumption of sweet and fatty foods will be mandatory. With serious training junk food will not benefit your child. A special food diary may be very helpful - and it’s a great healthy habit for future child’s life!
Myth #4: Rhythmic gymnastics interferes with school activities.
With proper allocation of time and wise choice of gym location, classes even several times a week will not affect the performance of the student. On the contrary, physical activity increases the brain’s function thus supporting brain nourishment. This leads to greater energy levels and contributes to the overall ability to concentrate. This increase in brain function has a positive effect on academic performance. Besides, young athletes are more self-disciplined, focused and motivated than their peers. As a result, their diary marks may even improve.
Myth #5: Gymnasts Have No Childhood
This is not true. Gymnasts, like all other athletes, do have a childhood, it is just a little different for a child-athlete. Despite the intensive physical activity and being constantly busy there are also plenty of great joys and wonderful moments. The joy of achievements is, perhaps one of the most significant. The feeling of self-improvement is priceless. In addition - gymnasts of course have friends among their teammates. And due to widespread locations of rhythmic gymnastics events competitive athletes get plenty of opportunities to travel and see new places.
Myth #6: Rhythmic Gymnastics is a sport intended for women only.
Not really. Nowadays men’s rhythmic gymnastics is actively promoted. It was invented in Japan, but quickly spread throughout the world. Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics (Men's RG, MRG) is an artistic sport which is performed to music on a 13 x13m gymnastic spring floor. It is sometimes called synchronized tumbling, combining the dynamism of powerful acrobatics and perfection of synchronous moves. Athletes are judged on some of the same physical abilities and skills as their female counterparts, such as hand/body-eye co-ordination, but tumbling, strength, and power are the main focus, as well as apparatus handling, flexibility and movements called "Toshu" (literally means "freehand"). There are an increasing number of gymnasts, competing alone and on a team; it is most popular in Japan, where high school and university teams compete fiercely. As of 2016, it is estimated there are about 2,000 participants in Japan alone. Some of the outstanding rhythmic gymnasts have made most of their physical abilities for their second careers and become performers in the field of entertainment such as the world-famous circus Cirque du Soleil.
Myth #7: Rhythmic gymnastics is an easy sport.
Gymnasts flitting around the carpet with ease and grace make people think it’s an easy and beautiful journey. But in fact, behind all this ease is hard work, dedication and patience. Through sweat and tears - it’s all about rhythmic gymnastics.
These graceful girls work in the gym 5-6 days a week for several hours. Little gymnasts (from 3 to 5 years old) train 3 times a week for 1- 1,5 hour. At 6 years old gymnasts spend 2-3 hours a day 5-6 times per week training. And when a gymnast goes to a professional sport and enters, for example, a national team, the training takes most of the time: 6 times a week the athlete visits the training 2-3 times a day, working on each for 2-3 hours!
In addition to practicing gymnastic routines and elements, rhythmic gymnasts have choreography lessons that are very close to classical ballet, general physical training and special flexibility training. And, of course, the most painful thing is stretching: the very tears we wrote about earlier.
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