We were recently gifted the Shuffle Up game by the lovely Gemma of Head Over Heels Gymnastics. I was quite intrigued by the idea of a game that could make conditioning exercises more fun- although my boys know that being well-conditioned is important for gymnastics, they don’t always want to spend time doing it!
The game contains red, yellow and green colour-coded cards, each with a different conditioning exercise described on it. Each colour represents a different level of difficulty, and there are further suggestions on the cards to make the activities more or less challenging- so there really is a challenge suitable for everyone, from the most un-sporty of parents (i.e. me!) up to squad gymnasts training multiple hours a week.
Each activity card includes photographs to show how the skill should be completed, along with clear, simple to follow instructions. Some also have extra ‘tips’ to improve technique- perhaps advice on where to look when you’re doing the skill, or how to hold the correct body shape throughout.
Looking through the activity cards, my first thought was that it could be useful to simply use the cards on their own, as a training aid. You could choose some exercises to work on if you and your gymnast are short on time, or create a bespoke conditioning programme for them by selecting cards that work the areas they find more challenging. Mr F enjoyed sitting with me and choosing some cards to create his own mini conditioning set – and it also helped him to focus his thinking more on which particular skills he might need to improve on.
But the real beauty of Shuffle Up is that it also contains 14 game cards. These cards each describe a game to play using some of the activity cards. Each game card explains in simple terms how to play, and any other equipment that might be needed. The games have engaging titles that catch children’s attention- ‘Minute of Madness’ sounds much more fun than ‘do as many reps as possible in a minute,’ for example! Most games are suitable to play alone, but can also be played against siblings or parents, to add an element of competition when playing.
My boys are both really competitive, so they enjoyed playing Shuffle Up against each other. Mr S in particular can find it tricky to engage with conditioning tasks at home. But turning it into a game, complete with dice to roll, helped him to keep going for much longer than he normally would do. The competition with his older brother also encouraged him to push himself more than he usually would- and Mr F stepped up his game too, as he didn’t want to be beaten by his younger sibling!
Shuffle Up contains so many games to choose from, little gymnasts can pick a different activity each time, and I think this really helps to keep things interesting, and stop them getting bored. It’s already come in handy this summer holidays, as whenever the boys are stuck for something to do, I’ve suggested that they get the box out and choose a game card or two to challenge themselves (and each other!). It keeps them quiet for a while, and when they’ve finished they’re always red-faced and out of breath, so I know they’ve worked hard.
Even Miss M, who’s just turned three, has got in on the act a couple of times and joined in with some of the ‘green level’ cards with her big brothers!
If you’d like to purchase Shuffle Up, you can do so by visiting the Head Over Heels website, where you can also see the other products available, including the brand new Head Over Heels Gymnastics App.