Geriatric Gymnast

An Overview of Geriatric Gymnastics

For anyone who is into fitness, gymnastics or aging gracefully, I present An Overview of Geriatric Gymnastics. Below you’ll find links and descriptions of all of the articles I’ve written in the series, including the strategies this middle-aged woman uses to defy the clock.

I recently had the honor of being included in Feedspot’s 60 Best Gymnastics Blogs and Websites for my Geriatric Gymnastics series and I thought I’d give you an overview of the articles that are a part of it!

The first two articles of this series were reflections about my experience as an adult playing in a gymnastics facility.

I am a gymnastics addict

This article was written in my early 40’s as I was really gathering steam in my training. It tracks my entry into gymnastics as an adult, and how it quickly developed into a cult-like passion. While I will never be elite athlete or an Olympian, I have found an athletic spirit that will carry me much further in my life.  

Age is just a number

This was written a few months before I was turning 50. It’s a reflection on where my body is, for better or worse, and what I’m doing to stave off the inevitable decline that age presents. My ultimate goal is to slow that down and not make things worse in the process.

The next six chapters of the series delve into different aspects of the long process of becoming a geriatric gymnast, particularly one who started in her late thirties.

Chapter 1: Flipping for all to see

This is the first official installment of my blog series about being an adult gymnast. Here, you’ll learn about how a middle-aged mind and body must work together to defy the odds. Part of that process is recording the work and (gasp) posting it to social media for others to see. It provides validation of the work in addition to the proof that it is possible to be a #geriatricgymnast. 

Chapter 2: The road to mastery 

Mastery isn’t about doing something successfully once or twice – it requires successful attempts hundreds of trials over many years. Like the toddler, who gets up, takes a few wobbly steps and falls back down again, gaining a tumbling skill is quite clumsy in the beginning. You don’t get really good at it until you’ve developed the fundamentals to be reliably consistent. That’s what mastery at the gym is all about: having the desire to do something, the understanding of what has to happen, building the physical strength, flexibility and coordination to get it done, and maintaining all of those things.

Chapter 3: Managing Fear

In the gym, a healthy dose of fear is what keep us from facing imminent disaster. I can’t tell you how often I feel my heart racing when I’m about to try something new, difficult, or when I attempt a previously mastered skill that suddenly doesn’t feel right. It happens at least once every time I go to train, because there’s always a skill that I’m not completely comfortable with. This is when I remember to take a moment, draw a breath, pay attention, and make sure everything is in place before I hurtle my body into space. It has taught me to think before I act and to “be where I am” (a favorite phrase of mine). 

Chapter 4: Keeping the bones strong 

I hadn’t really considered the bone-building benefits that all of this gymnastics training would have until I sustained an injury that could have potentially broken a hip. When the X-ray showed no breaks, the doctor acknowledged that my bones were likely incredibly strong from all of the bouncing. I knew it was a great way to exercise, helped me maintain muscle strength and flexibility, coordination, balance, etc, but it was good to know that I was also taking an active part in staving off osteoporosis as well.

Chapter 5: Maintaining a positive self-concept at the gym  

Just under the surface of my work at the gym is the buzz of “you have no business doing this thing that teenagers do;” a refrain of “how long can I keep this charade up?” Those murmurs can turn into a cacophony of anxiety and doubt if we are not careful to keep those voices hushed. In this chapter, I offer the strategies I use to silence those voices and maintain a positive self concept as a #geriatricgymnast .

Chapter 6: Becoming a coach

When our coach moved on to other things, we were left without a leader for our adult class. Luckily, I had enough training, experience and support to step into the coaching role. In this chapter, I talk about the process of thinking like a coach, relating to your students, and making sure that they feel safe under your tutelage so they can have a long life as a #geriatricgymnast.

Chapter 7: Debra Bassin – Courage and Grit Personified

Sometimes, when you are following a journey of passion, there are people you are inspired by. I wanted to shine a spotlight on my friend Debby Bassin, owner of Flipper’s Gymnastics, in Ramsey, New Jersey where I continue to train and coach as a #geriatricgymnast 

Debby Bassin, owner of Flipper's Gymnastics in Ramsey, NJ
Part 1: Who is Debby? 

This part talks about Debby’s journey to her dream of opening her own gym. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but her courage and grit carried her through the many tidal waves along the way. 

Part 2: In the Beginning…  

When do the seeds get planted in a young person’s soul? How does someone decide to turn a passion into a business plan? What does it take to make that decision and follow through? This part addresses Debby’s answers to those questions.

Part 3: The Bumpy Road to Orchard Street  

Having a vision and a plan is just the beginning of opening a new business. Actually managing the daily expectations vs. reality of making it happen is reserved for those with a strong constitution and a bit of crazy-pants determination. Part 3 reveals Debby’s venture into lunacy, which resulted in a well-regarded local business.

Part 4: Surviving the Pandemic 

How does the owner of a hands-on gymnastics facility survive a pandemic? Part 4 shows us what it takes.

Part 5: Some final thoughts… 

In part 5, Debby reflects on a few more aspects of entrepreneurship: things she avoided in creating her business, how she deals with the inherent dangers of owning a gym, and self-care strategies she employs to keep herself centered. It’s not easy owning your own fitness-related business, but it is hard to ignore the sense of joy and accomplishment that washes over her when she sees her clients succeed.

Chapter 8: Mental Breakthroughs

Sometimes, your brain gets in your way of progress. This is especially true when you are an adult gymnast. This post shows how, when you go back to the basics, you can break through mental and physical roadblocks – at any age.

Chapter 9: Gymnastics and Play

Why is jumping on the trampoline so much fun? Why is it such a draw? The focus of this blog post is how adults need to play just as much as kids do and how gymnastics provides an excellent way to satisfy the needs of our inner-child.

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