Starting Out in Girls’ Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a sport that has always been very popular with girls. Unusually, more girls than boys take part in this sport at a recreational level- British Gymnastics says that well over half of its members are female, and it’s not unusual for smaller gymnastics clubs not to have a boys’ squad at all. But as a mum of two boy gymnasts, and the wife of a boys’ coach, men’s artistic gymnastics is the discipline that I’m much more familiar with.

Now that Miss M is four years old, however, and in a mini development squad at her gym, that’s all beginning to change!

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The Clothes

There is a *huge* selection of girls’ gymnastics leotards out there! For boys, the choice is much more limited, and both Mr F and Mr S, along with most of the boys they know, tend to only have their club leotard, plus perhaps one or two others to train in. But it’s not unusual for the girls they’re friends with to have many different leotards, regularly wearing something new to lessons. I though Miss M would just have one or two leotards like her brothers until she’s a bit older, but it didn’t take me long to get sucked in by all of the pretty leotard designs I saw!

A girl taking part in a gymnastics competition

As well as her club leotard from The Zone, Miss M already has two others that I’ve picked up for her, and I’ve found myself looking online for new leotards more often than I’d like to admit! Luckily, girls’ leotards can be picked up second hand on eBay quite easily, or you can find well-priced handmade ones like this one on Etsy, so you don’t need to break the bank when buying something new for your little gymnast.

Hair styling is another new area for me. Just search for ‘gymnastics hair styles’ online, and you will find hundreds of photos of different styles to try out. From buns to braids, and everything in between, the intricate ways some gymnasts keep their hair tied back are seriously impressive! For now, I tend to stick to two little bunches, but I’m sure it won’t be long before Miss M is asking me to try and copy some of the hairstyles she sees on her friends.

The Apparatus

Our house is full of home gymnastics equipment, but it’s all for boys’ gymnastics. Instead of our homemade mushroom pommel trainer, Miss M will soon start wanting a beam of her own to use at home, and perhaps even a set of bars for the garden!

A girl using gymnastics bars

Although both boys and girls compete on the floor in gymnastics, that’s actually a difference as well as a similarity. Girls’ floor routines are usually performed to music, whereas boys’ routines are not. That means listening to a minute or so of the same piece of music, over and over again -no lyrics allowed! – while she perfects her moves. Girls’ routines also include dance moves as well as gymnastics ones, so that’s something else that will be new for me as a parent.

The Accessories

Sparkly training shorts. Personalised water bottles. Jewellery with gymnast charms on it. There are so many accessories out there aimed at girl gymnasts. I know that this will make Christmas and birthday presents much easier for Miss M than for her brothers- the only difficulty for me will be restraining myself from buying it all!

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