IT’S EXCELLENT for fitness and a good all-round workout – but gymnastics is not just for those capable of a back somersault.
Gymnastics is becoming incredibly popular with all ages and abilities, as Holbeach & Fenland Gymnastics Club has discovered.
Since moving into new premises in Long Sutton earlier in the year, the club has packed sessions taking place every night of the week, as well as on Saturdays, and its coaches are also running after-school clubs at a number of primary schools.
Some of the serious gymnasts are competing at county and regional level, and coach Lauren Day says: “We would hope to go on to national level now we are in the new premises.”
The new premises are a renovated shed in a builder’s yard in Lime Walk – in fact, the builders are Lauren’s father, Victor Day, and her uncle, Vince Day, of Day and Hammond Building Ltd.
Victor and Vince gave their labour voluntarily to transform the shed into what club chairman Annette Facey calls “a fantastic gymnastic facility”.
Thanks to funding from various sources, such as the club’s own fundraising, £7,500 from a group of district councillors’ designated budgets, and gifts from local businesses, parish councillors and charitable organisations, the club was able to secure National Lottery funding of £40,000 through Sport England’s Inspired Facilities programme to deliver a London 2012 Olympic legacy.
The building needed cladding, a new concrete floor, new electrics and plumbing as well as steel supports for the roof, and a viewing area behind a glass screen was created, all carried out to the standards of British Gymnastics, the UK national governing body.
Eventually, the club, assisted by parents and supporters, spent the coldest weekend in February moving all its equipment from the gym at the Peele Community College to the new facility.
The club already has a waiting list for its Saturday recreational sessions, aimed at people who have perhaps never tried gymnastics before.
All together 60 people are put through their paces during the two sessions for people aged from four to 16, the younger ones playing lots of games while the older gymnasts will work towards lower level competitions for recreational gymnasts.
There are opportunities to go on the equipment, practise moves in the foam pit and some might work towards British Gymnastics medals and join in displays during the summer months.
Youngsters start even earlier, with a session for mothers and toddlers on Tuesdays involving lots of foam play equipment that allows them to move freely and safely, as well as fun Space Hoppers and hoola hoops and a ball pit for babies.
The club does open its facilties for adults on Wednesday evenings, when circuit classes are held, but the serious business of Holbeach & Fenland Gymnastics Club is about gymnasts and the two squads – the artistic gymnasts, who work on the beam, bars, floor and vault, and the squad who work on sports acrobatics and tumbling.
About 30 gymnasts belong to the artistic squad, with ages ranging from six to 18, and they train on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings to practise their moves and prepare for competitions, which might also mean an extra Saturday session.
“It’s training time and it’s a lot of hard work,” confirms Lauren. “We are hoping to start doing Saturday afternoon sessions for the older ones.”
Sports acrobatics is not so popular, but the squad trains on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, doing pairs work on the floor, group routines or practising back flips on a tumble track.
Lauren is one of 15 coaches connected to the club, four of whom are club coaches who also work with pupils in after-school clubs.
The others are either at Level 1 or 2 of their coaching course.
The club held a Key Steps Primary Schools Competition in April involving ten schools and well over 100 children, and the squads have also been busy at competitions.
Annette says: “Since moving to our new premises, the club has attended various competitions and added to its medal collection.”
The competitors she particularly wanted to single out for praise included Maddy Brothwell, Molly Southerland, Logan Spelman, Danielle Taylor, Alice Banks, Holly Mears, Maddie Yellop, Mikki Taplin and Laura Buddle.
l The club’s next fundraising event is a ball at Holbeach Community Centre on Saturday, September 22, with local band Wildboys.
Tickets are still available by emailing Lday1987@aol.com