N and J started gymnastics in the fall. Originally, it was a small, run down, crowded gym where they took lessons two times per week. Low key. A coach who ended each class with a talk about how the most important thing was to have fun.
We’ve come a long way since then. The gymnastics club moved to the brand new gymnastics stadium that was built this summer for a large competition. State of the art, best gym in the country, hands down. It is nice to have one or two places where you can close your eyes, open them again and feel as thought you are in America. This is one of them.
With the new facility came a new resolve for improvement from coaches. N was asked to start coming to an all boys class that met 6 times per week. The physical exercise and social interaction were so good for him. He loved it. We were able to have one on one time with our girls. Everything was going well….
Who ever knew that trampoline was an Olympic sport! Because of the new stadium, a new trampoline coach was hired to develop children into Olympic athletes for the sport of trampoline. Granted, the competition field is very shallow. In fact, there is currently only one Olympic athlete from this country in the sport of trampoline. The new coach picked 5 students from existing gymnastics classes to be his first team. Both N and J were chosen and I found myself in a parents meeting where a guy with a few face piercings and a handle bar mustache gone awry was telling us the glories of trampolining. Other parents got stars in their eyes as soon as the words “National Team” were thrown around.
We weren’t so sure. Things were going well in their current classes. The trampoline coach proposed a 4 days per week schedule with 2 hour workouts. J had been wanting to go more times per week and 6 days had seemed a bit much so it seemed like a good fit for our family. The time slot was also earlier in the day which was much more convenient. Two kids at the same time, less days, earlier time…. an all round win.
So we thought.
After the first week, practices grew longer. Times changed. More workouts were added. When it was all said and done, the new schedule was 6:00 to 8:30 every week night except for Friday and 3:00 to 6:00 on both Saturday and Sunday.
He worked those kids like crazy. Strength training. Stretching. Trampoline drills. Have you ever worked out so hard you thought you’d throw up? Sure, I have but I wasn’t 6 years old! One day, afterwards, little J said, “Mommy, that was so hard I thought I was going to throw up!”
After about a week, we knew it wasn’t working for us. So, we approached the coach and with our American mindset, we told him what we were and were not willing to commit to. We explained that we had said yes to 4 days per week, 2 hours per session. What we had overlooked in our planning was the cultural aspect of negotiation so common here for EVERYTHING. Instead of saying OK to our offer, the coach said, “How about 5 days per week?” We got snowed into another day simply because we weren’t prepared for the negotiation! Ha ha! Learn as you go!
We continued on in this fashion for awhile but practices kept getting longer and it was just too much for the kids. In the end, we all agreed it was best to stop.
We met several families through our hours at the gym and the kids had special friendships. It was these friendships that made it so difficult to decide to stop.
Because the activity and interaction was so good for our kids physically, socially and for language learning, we didn’t want to quit until we had another sport lined up for them.
Now they are on the swim team. The pool is also a brand new, state of the art facility, built for this past summer’s sports event. Swimming is also 6 days per week but you are only required to attend 4 days and you can pick your days each week. This flexibility is tremendously helpful for us. Another benefit is that J and I can also swim during their practice. So, we take turns taking the kids to workouts and we each get to swim twice per week. Exercise for the whole family! SK also enjoys her one on one time with each parent.
Swimming is the new gymnastics around here. Even so, we still maintain friendships with our trampoline friends. They will attend their first competition next weekend in a city 12 hours away. N and J will prepare good luck bags for each of them and take them up to practice this week.
As far as swimming goes, we are meeting friends, exercising and having fun in the process. I am proud of my kids for their resilience and willingness to try something new.