Get Involved in Gymnastics

Why not give gymnastics a go this summer?

Last Updated: 04/07/12 2:33pm

Great Britain's Beth Tweddle and Lewis Smith may have set the standard, but as Get Involved found, gymnastics is a sport for people of all ages and abilities.

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Three-time World Champion Tweddle helps run nine academies around Merseyside, where she takes a hands-on approach to coaching.

"I want every child to have a go at Gymnastics," she told Get Involved. "It has given me so much enjoyment throughout my life - so many opportunities. If I can just give them that first chance at it - if they love it they love it, if they hate it they hate it. At least they can say that they've tried it, just like myself. I had to try a lot of different things.

"By opening just little academies around the city just to have a go at it for an hour after school; if the coaches spot the potential, we move them on to the local club."

Although participation in the sport has decreased by around 20 per cent over the last four years (from 61,200 to 48,000), Sport England - who will invest £7.7m in the sport at grassroots level from 2009-2013 - says that more than 8,000 new members joined local gymnastics clubs.

A 2010 study by British Gymnastics showed that former gymnasts tended to quit the sport before their 10th birthday. One club trying to reverse that trend, is South Essex Gymnastics Club, in Basildon.

David Massam, head of Adults Gymnastics, said: "We've had weightlifters come down - all sorts of people - divers - just to get involved. Once they are here for a few sessions they make some friends and everyone tends to stay around and just really enjoy it."

Lee Arnold, gymnastics coach, added: "There are so many basic moves you can do; some skills take a little bit of time to learn but it depends on what type of person you are.

"I've taught people that can't run and can't jump and a few months later they are able to do it. We get other people come in who have learnt somersaults and flips within the first couple of sessions.

"So it depends what type of person you are but if it is something that you are thinking of doing, come down and give it a go."

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Get Involved Week

Sky Sports News HD will be taking an in-depth look at grassroots sport as part of Get Involved week (June 4-10).

We will be travelling through Britain and Ireland to examine the state of sport in YOUR region, examining the effects sports like cricket, show jumping, basketball, cycling and golf are having on communities.

Sky Sports News presenters Rachel Wyse and Charlie Webster will bring you reports, while there will also be contributions from the likes of former badminton star, Gail Emms, and ex-boxer and Sky Sports pundit Johnny Nelson.

We will thoroughly assess the obstacles that sport has allowed people to overcome and look at some of the torchbearers who have bought sport to their local areas.

Click here for more details