Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why I Love Gymnastics Part One: Doing it

Not many people know that I like gymnastics. To be fair, I am not all that vocal about it. In New Zealand, there are not all that many people to discuss gymnastics with. My partner lives with me, so he is VERY aware of my obsession, and has been asked to watch a lot of routines. But lots of my friends don’t know that I like it.

Well, when I was actually doing it, the thing I liked the most was the fact that being tiny was actually an advantage. The popular sport for girls in my country is netball, in which height is a massive advantage. Netball is pretty much a mutated form of basketball. In theory, it involves less contact. In practice, contact is permissible if referees don’t challenge it. Rugby is another popular sport in my country. Again, being small is not good for this sport. In gymnastics, being small was not only ok, it was seen as a good thing.

It also did not require being picked for teams, (at least at my level). By that I mean, I never feared being picked last in sports classes at school. I went to a very cliquey all girls school where bullying was rampant, so this was a big thing for me.

I also loved the feeling of getting a skill. I did not achieve anything that challenging, but when I did achieve something, it really made my day.

Now, I have decided to do gymnastics again. I am 26 years old now, but there are a few gyms around my city, where I hope to do conditioning and possibly get back the few skills that I used to have. This will be an uphill battle for many reasons:

Firstly, I am naturally a person who does not put on muscle easily. In fitness classes, I am always the one with the smallest weights. A lot of the time, people new to weights classes are stronger than me. I especially struggle with upper body strength.

Secondly, I have not done gymnastics for 14 years. My body has changed a lot since then.

Thirdly, I am coming back from a condition called glandular fever. In other English-speaking countries, I believe it is called infectious mononucleosis (“mono”). This condition has meant a ten minute walk has tired me out which means I have not worked out for several months. So the muscle that I did have is most likely much less than it was.

I won’t be good at it. But that doesn’t matter. I think having goals involving a sport that I have enjoyed so much will benefit me a lot as a person, and help me to get fit and well again. We can get hung up on how good we are at things, or we can look at what they will do for us. Not many people get to the top of their sport, but that sport can still benefit them.