I am a big fan of exposing children to many sports because the physical conditioning I had as a child allowed my body to bounce back later in life in many surprising ways (I’m still perplexed all the time by new things I can accomplish as a yogini). It’s that time of year, back-to-school, when parents are booking extracurricular activities for their kids, myself included. When I was a child, my parents introduced me to gymnastics, tennis, swimming, soccer, horseback riding, skiing, ice skating, roller skating, rollerblading, biking, and more! They were definitely on top of the game.
I chose to stick with gymnastics, which is incredible at developing strong muscle tone and memory, flexibility, balance, discipline, focus, ambition, and consciousness about nutrition. We saw these qualities shining this summer in Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, and our other young Olympians. After I stopped competing in gymnastics at 15 (I was faced with Gabby Douglas’ dilemma of whether or not to leave home to train for the Olympics), I knew I wanted to continue to live an active lifestyle and use the skills I had developed during childhood. I started playing tennis again, rollerbladed to dance class, and began to run and workout at the gym.
Gymnastics has many benefits and so do most sports (of course injury comes with the territory). I spoke with a friend yesterday and we discussed the hand-eye coordination ball sports require as well as greater stamina than does gymnastics; one’s heart rate must remain elevated for much longer periods of time in soccer or lacrosse than for a one to two minute gymnastics routine. Sports for children and training the body from early on (assuming one doesn’t get seriously injured) endows us with an inherent upside as we age.