Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Health Benefits of Exercise

You’ve probably heard a thousand times that exercise is, without a doubt, good for your overall health. Whether it’s a simple activity like walking, jogging, and running or a more strenuous sports like basketball, tennis, or gymnastics, taking part in a physical activity can serve countless benefits for you, no matter how old or young you are.

Experts recommend that young people should get at least one hour of mild to moderate physical exercise per day. Today let us give you some reasons to start including exercise to your daily routine.

Benefits of Daily Exercise

Exercise Improves Your Mood

Exercise is not only beneficial for your body, but also for your brain. Performing physical activities regularly allows the body to release chemicals called “endorphins”, or also known as the “happy hormone”. Having an adequate amount of endorphins rushing through your system will help you feel more peaceful, happy and lively. So, if you’re feeling down and needs something to lift up your mood, go for a quick bout of exercise!

Exercise Can Boost Your Energy

According to research, if you feel fatigued, just simply getting off the couch and moving around can make you feel like you want to move more. That applies, too, in performing mild to moderate exercise. Performing a moderately-intense exercise for at least 15 to 20 minutes can make you feel more energized and active throughout the day. So, if you need something to get you off from that lazy rut, go for a quick jog or walk, it’ll get the job done!

Exercise Boosts Your Confidence

Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals (endorphins) which may help you feel happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and your own self when you take part in a physical activity regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve positive self-image.

Exercise Improves Your Appearance

Exercising regularly can help you achieve that lean, toned look. Taking part in any physical activities helps you burn excess calories and also tones your muscles, keeping you in a better, more attractive shape.

Exercise Leads to Better Overall Health

Taking part in a physical activity allows a child to develop a healthier body and a stronger immune system, which is pretty important to prevent sickness and diseases. Participating in a physical activity decreases the likelihood of conditions such as asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Exercise can help a person age well.

This might seem insignificant today, but your body will thank you later. Adults, especially women, prone to a condition called osteoporosis (a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile) as they get older. Studies have found that weight-bearing exercise — such as weight lifting and gymnastics — can help girls (and guys!) maintain healthier and stronger bones.

These are just some of the benefits you can get by taking part in a physical activity. So, start living a healthier and more active lifestyle, and add exercise in your day-to-day activities! :)

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Get Fit While You're Young!

Today, we will discuss the importance of getting fit and healthy while you’re young. Eating healthy and getting in shape at a young age is more than just boosting your attractiveness. Let us provide you a handful of reasons to start your fitness journey right now!

You’ll Develop Healthy Habits

There’s a great deal of truth with the saying that ‘any habits formed during childhood are often carried through their adulthood’. Starting to practice healthy habits like eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercise, and taking part in physical activities such as gymnastics for kids while you’re young gets you on the right track early on. These types of healthy practices can help you avoid suffering from certain illnesses and diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease in your adulthood.
Forming good habits while you’re young “will be easier than if you’re trying to develop them when you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s,” says John Rowley, a certified personal trainer. “At that point you may have to change your whole life around to implement them. Another reason to adopt healthy habits early on is so you can apply them to other areas of your life. That’s what Arnold Schwarzenegger did. The tools he learned in the gym helped build his movie career, and eventually got him into government.” 

Being Physically Fit Leaves Better Impression

We might not always admit it, but most of the time, we judge people based on their looks. Say for example, you see someone with a slumped shoulders and a big tummy. Do you see him as someone who is hardworking and confident? Most likely, no.

Building a leaner and healthier body gets you prepared for the future. Your appearance is the first thing that your potential employer will notice, and having a fit body will make an impression that you’re disciplined, and is able to get the work done.

“Whether you’re in a suit or plumber’s uniform, being lean, fit, and in shape gives off the impression that you’re disciplined, hard-working, and intelligent,” said Rowley “If you’re in your 20s and just getting out of school, it helps your career by telling people that you have the ability to get the job done.”

Being Healthy Makes You More Productive

According to a research published in the journal ‘Physiology & Behavior’, having bad eating habits such as consuming too much sugary and processed foods leads to a lower energy level, leaving the subjects feeling tired and lazy. Also, according to a study published in the journal ‘Population Health Management’, any unhealthy habits outside of work have a direct impact on the employees’ productivity loss.

So, if you want to be successful, whether it be in life or in gymnastics, you need to keep yourself healthy to maintain high levels of energy and focus. Unhealthy habits obviously won’t get you there.

You’ll Develop Higher Levels of Confidence

Eating healthy and exercising regularly has a direct impact on boosting your confidence level. Simply performing basic exercises such as walking or running for 20-30 minutes is enough to reduce stress and anxiety, which will positively impact your mood. Also, being fit and in a good shape makes you more attractive, directly affecting your sense of self-worth.
“Typically, psychology will follow physiology,” Rowley says. “If you’re not feeling confident, start moving your body in a confident way. And when you’re fit with strong muscles, you move with confidence. Again, it’s about taking the lessons learned inside the gym and using them in other areas of their lives.” 

You’ll Learn to Set Goals

As mentioned in our other article, any kind of sport, especially gymnastics, is not something that you can rush. Being an active participant of these kinds of sports teaches you that unless you have superhuman powers, you need to set smaller, attainable goals to be able to effectively reach your goals. 

“Those structured goals that you use in the gym where you’re doing something on a regular basis to get a predictable result can be a training routine for life,” he says. “Find habits that are working for others, whether it’s a schedule or training routine, and use them yourself. It’s a very effective way to achieve success.” 
Those are just some of the benefits you can get if you’ll start your fitness journey at an early age. It is never too late to become physically fit! Learn gymnastics for kids with us. Enroll today at Bianka Panova Sport and Art Academy and experience a high quality gymnastics training :)
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Monday, December 7, 2015

American Rhythmic Gymnast Makes History in the Sport

When Laura Zeng gets ready to compete, the “small-yet-terrible” American gymnast takes it very seriously. As she approaches the stage, her eyes stern and lips pursed and she walks with full confidence and swag. Then, she lifts up her right hand to salute the judges and the audience as she takes her position on the carpet. 
After that, she starts to widen her eyes and display the beauty of her smile, revealing the energy and excitement of all her performances, from a smooth and flawless performance with the hoops to a lively samba with the clubs.
Laura Zeng
Zeng is currently acknowledged as the best American rhythmic gymnast, with a lot of remarkable achievements at the young age of 16. Zeng secured the eight spot in the all-around event finals of the 2015 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships last September, the best all-around finish for an American gymnast. Her historic world all-around finish earned her country a spot in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The USA rhythmic gymnastics team also secured an Olympic spot and will be the first American rhythmic team to make it to the Olympics.  Zeng and her other teammates trains at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center in Deerfield.

The administrators of the USA gymnastics hope that the successes attained by Laura Zeng and the American gymnastics team in the recently held World Championships is the start of USA’s dominance in a sport long dominated by Eastern European gymnasts. During her training, Zeng said that to think that she had really earned a spot in the Olympics was “overwhelming”.

"I knew I had all these opportunities at this competition to reach those goals. I knew it was all on me," Zeng said. "So to be able to not let myself down and really go for it, it made me proud."

Artistic gymnastics is insanely famous among American audiences, mainly because of the world-renowned figures such as Olga Korbut, Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton. In comparison, rhythmic gymnastics barely possesses the same popularity and is a sport that is often misunderstood.
"When you say you do rhythmic gymnastics, people block the 'rhythmic' part," said Kris Shaldybin, 18, of Highwood, a member of the U.S. team. "They're like, 'Oh, do you like the beam?'"
USA Gymnastics at the recently held Rhythmic World Championships

For those who don’t know:

Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport that uses hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon as the apparatus in their routines. (The use of rope was discontinued for seniors). The athletes earn points by combining balances, leaps and jumps, pivot turns, dance steps and basic acrobatics while maneuvering, tossing and catching the equipment with the different parts of their body. Each performance can earn up to 20 points, and they are scored based on execution and the difficulty of their routine. Rhythmic gymnastics athletes can compete as individuals or as a group.

In a group performance, each of the five team members will hold an apparatus, synchronize their routines and toss their apparatus with each other. The different teams will perform two routines with varying combinations of apparatus. During the Olympic season, groups will perform with five ribbons in one routine, and with two hoops and six clubs in the other.

"At first glance, people just think it's twirling with a ribbon," Zeng said. "But I don't think they understand how hard it is to get that routine done. It takes so much work to master the equipment, to make it a part of you, and to be able to do all those elements with musicality. It's so many things happening at once."
Laura Zeng ribbon routine
Zeng was originally studying Chinese dancing, but was later introduced to rhythmic gymnastics by her friend when she was just 7 years old.

"I was drawn to the performance aspect, as I was a dancer and I loved performing for the audience," Zeng said. "And the musicality and being able to express myself while also being able to do equipment handling also really appealed to me."

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

China Takes Over the Odense World Trampoline Championships

China proved their dominance in the 2015 World Championships in Odense, Denmark after taking home the available World titles in Men’s and Women’s Individual Trampoline finals, allowing them to move forward to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.

Men’s Trampoline: Gao Lei dominated the World Championships

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics is just nine months away from now, and the Trampoline Gymnastics has found its new prince – Gao Lei. He finally escaped the shadows of his teammates Dong Dong, the defending Olympic champion, and Tu Xiao, the former World Champion, as he claimed his first World individual title last Sunday, making himself the new Olympic favorite.
Men's Trampoline Gymnastics World Medallists
To prove her superiority in the sport, Gao had to defeat his compatriots first before being allowed to take on the world. At the World Championships in Odense, Gao had already won a major battle after surpassing his teammates, Dong and Tu, in the qualification rounds. In the individual event finals, the 23-year-old Chinese gymnast flawlessly performed a routine that comprises of six triple saltos, earning himself a World gold medal. 

After turning his third-place finish in the 2014 World Championships into a second-place finish this year, Belarusian gymnast Uladzilau Hancharou proved himself to be a worthy opponent for the Olympics next year. Hancharou, a 19-year old gymnast who will turn 20 tomorrow (December 2), finished just 0.035 points ahead of the bronze medalist Andrey Yudin. The battle for the world titles was very tight, with the fourth and fifth placer Masaki Ito and Dmitry Ushakov both less than half of a point behind the silver medalist Hancharou.

Women's Trampoline: Li Dan makes a podium comeback

China’s 27-year-old trampoline gymnast Li Dan has got through the highs and lows of a long international career and is once again a World Champion, five years after claiming her 2010 World Championships individual gold medal
Chinese Trampoline Gymnasts Tu Xiao and Dong Dong
The Chinese gymnast endured the pressure of having to perform last in the Women’s individual event finals, but still managed to execute a wonderful performance that showcased her remarkable talent, something she rarely does in an international competition. Li Dan’s magnificent and complicated routine was enough to surpass her teammate, Liu Lingling – the former World Champion – who executed a less complicated yet dazzling routine. 

Meanwhile, Belarusian gymnast Tatsiana Piatrenia kicked the reigning Olympic champion Rosannagh Maclennan out of the podium to win her first-ever individual World title since 12 years ago.

China’s Olympic Champions Dethroned

Neither Dong Dong, the Olympic Champion in the 2012 Summer Games nor He Wenna, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, has been able to make it past the semi-final round of the Odense Championships, which was a surprise for Chinese gymnast Dong, who has always been on top of the podium at every international competition since 2007.

Dong, considered as the most successful trampoline athlete since the legendary Olympic trampoline champion Alexander Moskalenko, was overshadowed by the remarkable displays of his younger teammates, who advanced to the two-per-country finals ahead of him.

Meanwhile, He Wenna, has failed to finish her performance after hitting the trampoline padding.

First countries qualify for the Rio Olympic Games

In the Men’s competition, Japan, Russia and China have successfully earned two Olympic places in Odense for the Rio Olympic Games next year, while Belarus and France earned one Olympic spot each. In the Women’s competition, China, Great Britain and Belarus each earned two Olympic berth for their country.

Numerous other countries will fight for an Olympic spot at the Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro next April. In total, 16 men and 16 women will participate in the Trampoline portion of the Olympic Games.
The biggest sporting event on the planet, Rio Olympic Games
The biggest sporting event on the globe, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will take place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on August 5-21, 2016. 

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Great Britain Showcases a Strong Start in Odense

Great Britain demonstrated a strong start on the first day of the 2015 World Trampoline Gymnastics, Tumbling and Double-Mini Trampoline Championships in Odense, Denmark, making six finals and four semi-finals on both the trampoline and tumbling disciplines.
For the trampoline gymnasts, this competition will serve as the qualifying event for the Summer Olympic Games in Rio next year, wherein the top eight finalists will automatically secure an Olympic place and the rest of the top 24 semi-finalist will get a second chance and proceed at the Olympic test event in Rio next year. Great Britain has achieved two spots in the women’s individual semi-final and one spot in the men’s event, which means the country, at the very least, have successfully secured three spots in the test event next year.

In the women’s event, it was Pamela Clark, a member of the gold-medal-winning team at the 2014 Trampoline European Championships, who secured the highest rank for Great Britain, after finishing sixth place. The British gymnast showed no signs of nervousness and remained calm throughout her performances, and she executed two remarkable routines which earned her a total score of 101.135. 

Three-consecutive British champion Bryony Page also displayed a great performance at the qualifying rounds, she executed two clean routines to secure the 10th place after obtaining a total score of 100.715. Kat Driscoll, 2012 Olympian Kat Driscoll carried a very confident aura in her 8th World championship appearance to finish 12th with a total score of 100.440. 

Amanda Parker also remained calm all throughout her performance to finish with a total score of 98.200. However, even though she managed to make it to the top 24, she won’t be able to make it on the individual semi-finals since only three gymnasts per country can qualify. The British women’s team also finished second ahead of Russia in the team event finals.
Pamela was very delighted with the performances of her teammates, “I’m really happy, it was a little bit unexpected, but I think the work not only from me but the team and the coaches and support staff too has obviously paid off, not just for me but with all the other girls. I’m just going into the semi-finals with a clear head and then it’s just another competition again. Hopefully I will do another good performance and see where that takes me.”

Additionally, Bryony stated: “I think I’m more relieved than anything, my routines were a bit shaky because I was quite nervous but overall I’m really happy because when I was in the moment I felt strong.”

Kat was also very pleased with the results but she hopes for a much better performance in the semi-finals. “I’m obviously pleased but I know I’ve got improvements to make, which hopefully we can do come semi-finals. We have got team finals tomorrow, so we can use that as a kind of rehearsal as it’s a zero final and one voluntary routine, the same as the semi-final, and the see where we go from there.”

In the qualification rounds of the men’s trampoline event, Nathan Bailey secured the top spot for Great Britain after finishing 14th with his two remarkable performances which earned him a total score of 105.480. His 14th place finish earned Great Britain men’s team a sure spot in the test event next year, still with a possibility of making it to the finals and secure an Olympic place. This was a very remarkable finish for the GB men’s team as there were no male participants in the previous Olympics.
Nathan said after: “I’m so pleased, it was the goal coming into these championship to make that top 24. I’m in a really good position and I am really happy with my performance and looking forward for what’s to come over the next few days.”

The competition resumes today, 27th of November (Friday) with the trampoline team finals, the women’s tumbling team finals and the double-mini trampoline qualifications and women’s team final.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gymnasts To Take a Huge Leap Towards Olympics

There is less than 9 months left before the 2016 Rio Olympics finally starts, and the top Trampoline gymnasts from all over the world are getting ready to take a huge leap to finally reach their Olympic dreams at the 31st World Trampoline Gymnastics Championships in Odense, Denmark this Thursday.

This year’s edition of the Trampoline Championships will serve as a qualifying event for next year’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Top eight gymnasts will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, while those who will make it to the top 16 will get a second chance to secure a berth at the Olympic Test Event in Rio next April.

Aside from Trampoline, which has been a part of the Olympic program since the year 2000, World titles in Synchronized Trampoline, Double-mini Trampoline and Tumbling can also be earned at the World Championships in Odense. In addition, the gymnasts who will participate in these three disciplines will also get a chance to qualify for the World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland – the “Olympics for non-Olympic disciplines”.

Return of the Olympic champions

Three Olympic champions will make an appearance in Odense to compete against the World’s top Trampoline gymnasts. Dong dong, a Chinese Trampoline gymnast, was a three-time World gold-medalist (2009, 2010 and 2013) and an Olympic Champion in the 2012 Summer Games. Another Chinese Trampolinist, He Wenna, who won the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics, will also be present in Odense. Canada’s defending Olympic Champion, Rosannagh MacLennan, will also make an appearance in the World Championships.

Aside from the three Olympic Champions, some other remarkable gymnasts will also show up in Odense Championships. Another Canadian gymnast, 2003 World champion Karen Cockburn, who hasn’t own any individual World titles since but holds three Olympic medals (bronze in 2000 Olympics and silvers in 2004 and 2008 Summer Games). Ekaterina Khilko, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, Jason Burnett and Dmitry Ushakov, silver medallists in 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games respectively will also compete in Odense.

China, an enduring dynasty

No other team in Odense appears to be as supercharged as China, which will showcase five individual World Champions and two Olympic gold medallists. In the men’s competition, 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dong Dog and defending World champion Tu Xiao will try to hold off the charge of younger compatriots Gao Lei and Xiao Jinyu for the two spots available per country in the medal round. Making it to the finals would prove that they are still the best Chinese trampolinist of all time, but Gao was proved to be a tough opponent in the past two seasons, after beating both his rivals multiple times in World Cup competition.

All of the four Chinese Trampoline gymnasts, (Li Dan, He Wenna, and Liu Lingling) proved to have what it takes to win the World Title, having already won the World titles in 2010, 2011 and 2014 Championships respectively. On the other hand, Zhong Xingping, was a 2013 World runner up.

The age-proof veterans

Four veteran Trampoline gymnasts, Nikolai Kazak(38), Karen Cockburn(35), Ekaterina Khilko(33), and Tatsia Piatrenia(34), proves that age is just a number, and they are set to compete against younger gymnasts in Odense. Still at their peak performance, each of these veterans could probably contend against the world’s top trampolinist. Canadian gymnast Cockburn, the gymnast who won the most Olympic medals in the Trampoline gymnastics history, is aspiring to make her fifth Olympic appearance in Rio next summer, just like Uzbekistan’s Khilko, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.

Tatsiana Piatrenia, a Belarusian gymnast, who won the gold medal in Synchro Trampoline competition in 2003 proved that she still has what it takes after winning the Loulé World Cup, the finale of the 2015 FIG World Cup series, last month in Portugal. With Synchro partner Uladzislau Hancharou, Kazak became the silver medalist in 2014, 20 years after his World Championships Debut.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Success of British Team in Glasgow inspires Jay Thompson

Jay Thompson, a gymnast from South Essex Gymnastics Club admits that the remarkable accomplishments of his teammates at the recently held World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow has encouraged him to go back to gymnastics.

The 19-year-old gymnast, who is currently recovering slowly after suffering from a dislocated elbow, was left with no choice but to watch his teammates Max Whitlock and Brinn Bevan as they fight for Great Britain in Glasgow.
Despite that, the outstanding medal-winning performances of his colleagues has inspired him to fight his way back to the sport.

“I’m really proud of how well they did but I’m jealous as well because it’s something I want to be doing as well,” Thompson said.

“Due to circumstances I couldn’t be there taking part but it’s certainly something that motivates me because I’ve seen how successful they are and I want that too.”

Thompson watched the opening day of the competition in Glasgow, where he witnessed the World Championships debut of Reiss Beckford, a gymnast who also came from South Essex Gymnastics Club. 

Thompson believes that he is also capable of achieving the accomplishments that his colleagues have attained.

“It’s seems more achievable for me now and it’s definitely something that could happen,” said Thompson.

“However, I’m working on getting back fit at the moment and I can’t afford to rush back.”

The injury, which he had acquired during the course of his training, has led him to have his Achilles stitched during his surgery.

Nevertheless, he is glad with the progress that he is making.

“I’m 10 weeks post op and things are starting to pick up for me now,” said Thompson.

“I’m managing to do some stuff in the gym and I can do a lot more than last year when my elbow injury was a lot worse.”

“Now I can do everything but floor and vault so I’ll be making sure they will be strong when I get back.”

The19-year-old gymnast also hopes to get back to the sport sooner to make it to the Olympic selection in Rio next summer.

“In my mind it will be a massive struggle but I’ll still be pushing as hard as I can for Rio,” said Thompson.

“There are the Europeans as well and I’ll be pushing to back on all six by the time the British Championships comes around.

“But for now it’s just about working hard in training. I’ve been massively lonely training on my own.

“I’ve missed the guys a lot so it’s great to have them back here again.”

Jay Thompson was eager to express his gratitude to his sponsors, Paul Lancaster, MyProtein and Groovy Food Company for their unending support . 

Great Britain Secured Team Olympic Berth

The British men’s gymnastics team have successfully secured their spot for the Olympic Games in Rio next year after confirming their place at the Artistic Gymnastics Championships team finals in Glasgow.
The countries who made it to the top eight of the team competition have acquired guaranteed spot in Rio Games next year, and with a finishing score of 354.417, the Great Britain has proved enough.

The accomplishment of the British men’s team came after the success of the women’s team, who have also secured their Olympic spot for Rio after taking the third place in the team finals in Glasgow – Britain’s best finish in an Olympic qualifying competition.

The British men’s winning team was comprised of Max Whitlock, Brinn Bevan, Nile Wilson, Dan Purvis, Kristian Thomas and Louis Smith.

“Qualifying is almost the most difficult as lots of things are going through your head,” Purvis told british-gymnastics.org. “But when it comes to the final you can just go for it, so hopefully we can improve even more.”

The biggest sporting event on the planet, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will take place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on August 5-21, 2016. 

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gymnastics: A Kid's Great Start Towards an Active Lifestyle

Kyle Shewfelt, a Canadian Olympic Floor gold medalist continues his quest of inspiring the next generation of gymnasts. However, Shewfelt doesn’t really mind if they’re aiming to hoard medals, his primary goal is for them to have fun

Yesterday, as a part of the gymnastics club's 2nd birthday celebration, Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics offered a "$2 per person" training session for the kids aged 6 years old and under. There was a morning and an afternoon session, and both sessions were filled with young students together with their parents.
According to the parents, encouraging their child to do gymnastics will not only benefit their child, but will also benefit them. “I have three very energetic kids. So it’s just a place where they can burn off some energy.” Kendra Trim said.

They said that they’d rather see their child spend all of their energy learning gymnastics than to waste it by playing at home and messing up with the furnitures.

“Jumping on the couch and jumping on the bed and yeah, it at least gets her to get rid of some energy here for sure,” Joey Hands said while talking about her daughter.

Gymnastics is a sport that has been existing for more than 2000 years, but only a few number of gymnast have been able to surpass Shewfelt, an athlete considered as the most successful Canadian gymnast in history.

Despite having a competitive blood running through his veins, Shewfelt’s facility primarily focuses on the fun side of the sport.
(Photo Credits: Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics)

“In order to get someone to the high performance level of sport, they have to fall in love with the sport at a young age. So for us, we thought…‘We’re going to focus on that foundation. We’re going to get as many kids as we can involved in the sport of gymnastics,” Shewfelt stated.

Joey Hand’s daughter has been a regular student of the Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics, primarily because her daughter has been always an active and energetic kid.

“So she’s been climbing and climbing since she was really small and gymnastics is just such a good all around sport for coordination and body awareness,” said Hands.

“There’s so many kids that are static,” said Shewfelt, “that are just sitting on their Ipads, watching television and that’s just the nature of our world today. But the reality is that kids and people need to move their bodies.”

It is very important for any person, regardless of their age, to exercise and to continuously move their bodies. Besides, who doesn’t love to jump and play on the trampoline or the foam pit?
Yet, if Shewfelt sees that a child has the talent and the potential to be a great gymnast in the future, there is always an option to advance to the competitive level.

“We’ll gladly pass them along to someone else, where the coaching and facility are really catered to the high-performance side of the sport.”

Whichever path the kids take, whether they’re just doing gymnastics for fun or working to be a competitive gymnast, Shewfelt believes it’s all a swing to the right direction.

”I hear their laughter and their joy and the celebration when they learn something new and it really resonates with me. I can see a lot of myself in a lot of the kids that I see that walk through the doors.”
Following his retirement in the competition, Shewfelt dreamt of building Calgary’s leading non-competitive gymnastics club where everyone, regardless of their age and level in the sport, could enjoy and reap the benefits of training gymnastics in a fun, nurturing and supportive training environment.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Uchimura's Secret To Success

Japanese gymnastics legend Kohei Uchimura proudly raised his hands and held up six fingers after winning his sixth-consecutive World all-around title at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships last week.

“I wanted to show that just one hand is not enough (to count the number of World titles that I won).” Uchimura said. His words clearly shows his pride on remaining as the greatest gymnast of all time ever since he got his first World all-around title in 2009. Ever since, he has successfully defended his winning streak and has not suffered any losses in the individual all-around World competitions (including the 2012 Summer Olympics). That’s probably because he was endowed with all the traits required to become the “king of gymnastics”. 
Mitsuo Tsukahara, the Vice President of the Japanese Gymnastics Association, who owns a total of five Olympic gold medals, said, “There used to be quite a large number of champions about 170 centimeters."

He was pertaining to, for example, Vitaly Venediktovich Scherbo (169cm), a former Belarusian artistic gymnast who holds a record total of 23 World Championship medals. In comparison, Uchimura is 162 centimeters tall, giving the overall impression that he has a small body frame with bulging muscles. 

Hiroyuki Tomita, a member of International Gymnastic Federation’s (FIG) technical committee, said, "There are body types that are advantageous to compete in individual all-around world championships."

During the time of Scherbo, the gymnasts were focusing on improving the precision of their routines to attain the “Perfect 10” score. However, since the gymnastics scoring system was changed in 2006, gymnasts started competing for a combination of D-score (difficulty score), which is based on the difficulty of the gymnast’s exercise and performance and E-score (Execution score) which evaluates the preciseness and beauty of the performance. That means, the more difficult the routine is, the better the score the gymnast could obtain.
On the individual all-around competitions, the athletes are required to use their muscles in order to perform their routines. Male gymnasts, especially, use those bulging muscles in gymnastics events like the floor exercise, and the vault, which requires jumping power, horizontal bars that requires a strong core muscle, as well as the rings, which requires brute strength. The harder the technique the gymnast use, the greater the burden their bodies would suffer, increasing the likelihood of injury.

Despite being the qualifying event for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, the top athletes of Brazil and U.S. failed to make it to the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow, because of existing physical injuries. Uchimura, on the other hand, was gifted with a physique that was more resistant from suffering the burdens on joints and muscles. As a matter of fact, “King Kohei” has never suffered any major injuries.

Japanese Gymnastics Federation’s Vice President Tsukahara said. “What gymnasts of today need is muscle endurance that is necessary to perform many difficult techniques.” 

The gymnast’s muscle endurance can be measured by observing their landing – the technique that the athletes are at the end of their performances – in the events such as horizontal bars. Considering that the gymnasts are using difficult routines (which tests the limits of their physical abilities) in the competitions that they take part in – they tend to get exhausted at the end of their performances. For that reason, only a small number of athletes were able to perform their routines as precise as it needs to be. On the other hand, mainly because of his excellent muscle endurance, Uchimura was able to hold his body in any position that he wants to.
Even after obtaining his third Olympic qualification, Uchimura said, "The Olympics are a different dimension. They won't go the same way as the world championships." Aside from his instinctive qualities, Uchimura also possesses an inquisitive mind to master the sport of gymnastics since he is more familiar with the struggles and hardships in gymnastics more than anyone else. Due to his amazing qualities, no one can tell if there is a limit on how far the “king of gymnastics” can go.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

World Gymnastics Championships filled with Record Breaking Events

Glasgow was filled with record-breaking events as Max Whitlock writes a new chapter in Britain’s sports history after obtaining the world title in the pommel horse finals, making him the first-ever British male athlete to win gold at a World Gymnastics Championships, while four female gymnasts shared the top of the podium after tying on the uneven bars finals.

Fan Yilin, Dario Spiridonova, Madison Kocian and Viktoria Komova finished their uneven bars routine with surprisingly same scores (15.366), resulting in an unexpected “four gold medalists” in the women’s individual apparatus finals.
That unprecedented event brought surprise and amusement to the audience and the four champions, who shared the crowded space at the peak of the medal podium, leaving the two bottom spaces empty.

The medal awarding ceremony was also prolonged as there were three national anthems (Russia, China, and USA) being played. The organizers also had to skip the flag raising ceremony since they can’t fit three national flags on one horizontal pole.

American gymnast Kocian depicted the incident as “super crazy”, while Chinese gymnast Fan Yilin said it was “hilarious”. Russia’s Spiridonova said: “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this. I didn’t think anything like this would even be possible. It’s great that we are in this together and we will share the victory.”

Her teammate Komova added: "It was hard to deal with the nerves after they started to announce the results. I am personally shocked. It's the first time the judges had such a hard time deciding who the champion was."


Meanwhile, in the men’s apparatus finals, Whitlock has managed to surpass his compatriot’s score on the pommel horse event by a very tight margin. 

Smith executed a clean routine on the pommel horse to sit on the top of the scoreboard with a score of 16.033 until Whitlock, the last pommel horse competitor, outshone Smith’s performance to finish with a score of 16.133, just a tenth-of-a-point ahead of his compatriot’s score.
The British duo gazed on the giant scoreboard while waiting for Whitlock’s score, and when the score of 16.133 flashed up on the giant screen, Smith quickly grabbed their national flag to begin a double celebration.

"I had dreamed of this moment but never felt I would get emotional," said Whitlock, who also obtained a silver medal in the floor event finals behind Japanese superstar Kenzo Shirai.

"I can't believe it. I trained in the gym thousands and thousands of routines building up to this moment, so when you go clean like I did today, you can't express what you feel. I'm over the moon. It's been an amazing journey."


On the men’s floor exercise finals, Japanese Kenzo Shirai executed a routine filled with daring and high-flying acrobatics and ending it with a quadruple twisting somersault, earning him a second world title in 3 years.

A slight mistake on his third tumbling pass was not enough for Shirai to flinch as the Japanese floor exercise supremo was the only competitor to surpass the 16-point barrier after finishing with a score of 16.233.
"As I experienced defeat last year, I know the importance to keep improving. This time I was able to surprise everyone with my difficulty," he said.

Russian gymnast Maria Paseka outclassed most sought-after athlete Simone Biles and the vault defending champion Hong Un-jong with two soaring leaps to obtain the vault world title.

Paseka hit her landing on both of her vaults, an Amanar and a Cheng, to finish with an average total of 15.666. Korea’s Hong Un-jong took the silver medal while American superstar Biles earned bronze.

Paseka’s gold finish sparked a gold rush for Russia, which started the second-to-the-last day of Championships with none but ended the competition with three gold medals, thanks to Paseka, Komova and Spiridonova.

Meanwhile, Greek gymnast Elftherious Petrounias displayed a jaw dropping ring performance to secure the rings world title ahead of Chinese You Hao and 2014 rings defending champion Liu Yang.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Japan Takes the Lead in the Men's Qualification at the World Championships 2015

On the first day of the men’s qualifications, Japan took the lead, finishing almost two points ahead of its rival China (358.884-357.027). None of them was perfect, however. Even Kohei Uchimura, regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, made a mistake in his performance on the floor event while executing a tucked double-double in the fourth rotation. 

Nevertheless, he still proved his superiority by executing an astonishing performance on the rest of his routine. He finished first place in the all-around qualifications after posting a score of 90.564.
“My head hit the floor and I felt uncomfortable… I felt dizzy,” Uchimura said. “It could have affected my last two events but I managed to compete with them by concentrating.”

A disappointed look was seen on Uchimura’s face after his fall on the floor exercise, of which he blamed for having to wait a long time before he can perform his routine, as the judges were busy deliberating over his team mate’s score. 

"I waited a long time and my body cooled down,"Uchimura said.

"So I couldn't move as I wanted to. At the beginning of the exercise it was fine, but at the end, I couldn't perform as I had wished."

"It might have been better to come down from the podium and rest, which I didn't do," he said. "This is not an excuse. I have experienced long waiting times before."

Japan began on the vault, where “King Kohei” performed a clean roundoff half-on to Randi to earn his highest score of 15.633. The Japanese team took the lead on the floor, vault and the high bar exercise after the fourth subdivision. 
Two Japanese newcomers Naoto Hayasaka and Kazuma Kaya had mixed results in their country’s first place ranking. Kaya earned a score of 88.431, making him the second best Japanese all-arounder. Additionally, his score of 15.300 on the pommel horse was the team’s highest score on the event. Hayasaka had difficulties on the floor and pommel horse event but his score of 15.200 on the vault makes up for it.

"Kazuma gave a really good performance," Uchimura said. "I feel the younger teammates really helped the team a lot. I can feel their youthful energy."

On the other note, Deng Shudi, the leader of the Chinese team sits in the third place in the all-around event, despite falling in the first rotation on pommel horse. The Chinese team recovered after earning the highest scores on rings (60.266), with the help of Liu Yang’s score of 15.866, and on parallel bars, where the Chinese team posted a score of 62.099.

"I am satisfied but I was not perfect," Liu said. "Rings is my strongest apparatus, but today I did not feel strong enough."

China, whose team has won every major international competition over the last decade, appeared rough in areas, so, with the help of Uchimura, this could be the Japanese team’s biggest opportunity to finally claim the gold in the team event.

Over the past four World Championships and the last two Olympic Games, Japan has always been second to its rival, China. Nothing was more heartbreaking than being a tenth-of-a-point behind China in the 2014 Summer Olympics.

Great Britain, currently sitting in the third place, competed in the first subdivision. After struggling on the high bar, where both Brinn Bevan and Max Whitlock fell while trying to execute their routine, the British team got on a roll. Similar to Uchimura’s experience, Bevan was also forced to rechalk a few times while waiting for his turn to perform. The World Championship newcomer shook it off and finished with a score of 14.666 on both the floor and pommel horse event.

The British team obtained the second-highest score on the floor and the best score on pommel horse, after Louis Smith and Max Whitlock obtained a score of 15.533 and 15.266, respectively.

Daniel Purvis is currently ranked second in the all-around qualifications. He performed well on parallel bars, as was Nile Wilson, who amassed a score of 15.500. After Bevan committed a mistake while performing his Tsuk-double pike on vault, Kristian Thomas saved the event by executing a wonderful Yurchenko-double pike.
"We want to do as well as we can in the Team Final," Whitlock stated. "We won bronze in the Olympics and were fourth last year, but the potential is there, and it depends what we do on the day to get one of those medal places."

Russia currently sits in 4th place (352.692) paced by the all-arounders Belyavskiy David (88.665), Kuksenkov Nikolai (87.398) and Nargonyy Nikita (87.331).

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Ellie Black Leads Canada as the Country Qualifies for the Rio 2016 Olympics

Last Summer, Ellie Black, a Canadian gymnast, introduced herself to Canadians by winning five medals (three of which are gold) at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
This time, the Halifax-born gymnast has introduced herself to the international stage. At the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships last week, the 20-year-old Canadian athlete delivered an astonishing performance that has put Canada in a hopeful position to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

With Black leading the pack, the Canadian team managed to finish seventh against 24 other countries, earning her country a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympics. The top eight teams will automatically move forward to the Olympics while teams ranked 9th to 16th will get another chance to secure a berth at the Olympic Test Event on April

“It’s a sigh of relief for the team,” said Kyle Shewfelt, a 2004 Summer Olympic gold medallist. “They don’t have to focus on peaking in April, coming down, and then peaking for the Games. Now, everyone gets to have a nice rest. They can regroup, build up their degree of difficulty and then maybe at the Olympic Games make the team final. And there, anything can happen.”

Now considered as one of the best gymnasts in the world, Black performed a dazzling performance on each of the four events earning her a total score of 57.299 to finish fourth in the all-around competition.

For that reason, she will move forward to the team, all-around and individual final on the balance beam later this week.

“At this World Championships, a lot of people’s eyeballs are bugging out of their head going: ‘Ellie Black – wow, Sneaky, sneaky little Canadian,’” Shewfelt said. “On the Internet, a lot of people in the gymnastic universe are really talking highly about her.”

“What I love about Ellie is that she’s such a rock. She goes in and she’s so confident when she competes. She’s able to stay up on the apparatus. She fights for the tenth (of a point), you can see. And she becomes better in competition than she is in training. And that’s what you want to see from an athlete. You want them to rise.”

While other competitors such as the Romanian team collapsed under the pressure, the Canadian team took the opportunity to move up in the competition.

“It’s kind of surreal at this point,” said Canadian gymnast Brittany Rogers, who attends and competes for the University of Georgia. “We knew that we had a decent shot going into it that we would come top-eight. But we knew anything could happen. It’s gymnastics. Falls happen. Catastrophes happen.”

“We’re feeling fortunate to be here.”
Aside from Canada, the United States, China, Italy, Great Britain, Japan, Russia and the Netherlands are also a part of the top eight teams who will automatically move forward to the 2016 Olympics.

Canada joined the competition on the bubble, but delivered two days of astonishing performances from Ellie Black, Britanny Rogers, Victoria-Kayen Woo, Audrey Rousseau, Sydney Townshend, and Isabella Onyshko.

Aside from that, Onyshko will also move forward to the all-around final after finishing 24th overall.

“This is incredible,” Black commented on the overall results. “It was our goal to come in and do our best for Team Canada and hopefully come in top eight. To come in seventh and qualify a team for the Olympics is amazing. We all had a fantastic day of competition. We all did our best routines and really put everything out there for the team.”

The Canadian women’s team has qualified for the Olympics for two times in a row. At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, the Canadian team made a history by finishing fifth, Canada’s best-ever Olympic gymnastics team result.

Black learned a valuable lesson at the Championships. She has now become a leader.

No longer a stranger in Canada or in the international stage, she’s now facing the challenge of handling the pressure of expectation.

“We know what she’s capable of,” said women’s artistic gymnastics’ National Team Director Dave Brubaker “I think lately there has been a lot of pressure, because of the Pan-Ams and all of the hype attached to that. So we need her to focus on what makes her successful, not the outcomes.”

Speaking of the outcomes, everything is going well so far.

“The team competition, that was my main goal, to help the team out as much as I could,” Black said. “And then the second individual goal is already accomplished.

“From this, we’re just looking to enjoy the rest of the competition and do our best.”

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Kohei Uchimura: A Japanese Gymnastics Legend

Those who had the opportunity of reaching the podium with Kohei Uchimura depicts him as a remarkable artistic gymnast. “King Kohei”, “The Bolt of Gymnastics”, “Superman”, or in the most positive sense – a “monster” are only some of the titles that are given to this Japanese gymnastics legend. 

Given that he’s a five-time consecutive World all-around champion, this 26-year-old Japanese gymnast can be considered as the greatest male gymnast  of all time.
Aside from his dominance in the World All-around competitions which earned him a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records, Uchimura is captivating for his unending search for perfection, the Holy Grail of Gymnastics. If some in this generation have chosen to perform an increased level of difficulty in exchange of a good execution, Uchimura returns Men’s Artistic Gymnastics to all its nobility.

This search for perfection started since he was still a child. At the age of 3, he learned his first gymnastics skills with the help of his father, Kazuhisa, a former artistic gymnast. His father trained him at his own gymnastics club in Nagasaki. When he was 15 years old, Uchimura travelled to Tokyo to continue his training together with his idol Naoya Tsukahara, a key member of the gold-medal winning Japanese men’s artistic team at the 2004 Summer Olympics. In the year 2007, while still a teenager, Uchimera joined the Japan’s National Team, where he instantly became famous for his astonishing feats.

At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Uchimura was the youngest member of the Japanese Men’s team, but that didn’t stop him from being one of the top performers. Despite the error that Uchimura commited while dismounting at the Pommel horse in the individual all-around final, he still managed to finish with a silver medal to go along with another silver medal in the Olympic team event.
It was in the following year that Uchimura began showing his extraordinary superiority in the sport, after finishing as a World Champion in the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships in London. He finished 2.5 points ahead of the second placer, the same score margin that separated 2nd from the 8th place.

Despite the lack of height, standing only 5 feet 3 inches, that didn’t stop this legendary gymnast from dominating the sport. Not even an injury has managed to hinder his path. At the 2010 World Gymnastics Championships in Rotterdam, despite having a shoulder program, he still managed to defend his World All-around title along with three additional medals.

One year later, he took part in the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo despite experiencing a pain in his calf, but was such a “machine” that he still managed to finish 3 points ahead of the second placer, the same margin that separated 2nd from the 14th place. After winning his third World all-around gold medal, Uchimura earned a standing ovation from the audience that lasted for two minutes upon the completion of his final routine “I thought it was an earthquake. I’ve never received such applause,” he said.
After such a winning streak, getting a gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics was not a surprise anymore. On his way to Rio, the Japanese gymnastics legend displayed no sign of struggle in the 2013 and 2014 World Championships, obtaining another two World titles with little to no difficulty.

However, despite having an impressive collection of World (a total of 16 medals, including 7 gold) and Olympic Medals (five, including 1 gold and 4 silver), there is still one dream that the Olympic champion has yet to fulfill, to win a gold medal with his team at one of the great international competitions. Since 2008, the Chinese team has always been ahead of the Japan at the World Championships and Olympic Games.
Perhaps the Japanese team will eventually end up as gold medalists one of these years, fulfilling Uchimura’s ultimate dream. As of now, “King Kohei” plans to extend his gymnastics adventure until 2020, when Japan will host the Olympics for the first time since 1964.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Australian Artistic Gymnast Beams on Brave Balancing Act

“Survivor” is the description that Peggy Liddick, the head coach of Australian women’s gymnastics used to describe Mary-Anne Monckton

Monckton, a 20-year-old Australian gymnast, is a member of Australian women’s team for the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow. She came back from a severe ankle injury after undergoing a left ankle reconstruction surgery last November, following the devastating selection disappointment in the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she was selected as one of the two travelling athletes. 

The persistence of the young athlete caught the attention of the women’s national head coach.
“Mary-Anne was never really a superstar in her junior career, but she just has staying power,” Liddick said. “She’d get some injury that took her out for six months, and then she’d pop back up and would win something, and then she’d get another injury, she’d disappear, and then pop back up. So it was just her refusing to give up that really caught my eye, and then I thought ‘you know, she’s actually got some good gymnastics’.”

Her gymnastics skills are competitive enough to finish with a silver medal in the balance beam and team event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and to take part at the 2014 World Championships in China regardless of her ankle injury that undermined her training and performance for the year 2014. Also, good enough to be the most experienced Victorian artistic gymnast who will compete for the upcoming World Championships in Glasgow next week, October 23.

"People always see the end result, and that's only about five minutes of performance. A lot of hard work goes into it, so I'm just really excited that hanging in there after last year is really starting to pay off now," said Monckton, a 20-year-old gymnast who started gymnastics at the age of five, whose family moved to Canberra at the age of seven and to Melbourne, at the age of 15, and currently attends her tertiary studies and part-time work while training for more than 30 hours a week simultaneously.

"I knew that I could come back, but it was just to which kind of level was uncertain. But I just kept pushing and I was really determined to get back to the level that I was at last year's world or even better, and this year I've had a much better preparation and I'm feeling in great shape physically and mentally, so I'm really excited for the next couple of weeks."

As of now, her ultimate goal is to claim an Olympic berth by being a part of the top eight teams in the upcoming world championships, which would guarantee an Olympic team slot for next year’s Rio Olympics. On the other hand, her personal goal is to make it to the apparatus finals, and if by any chance, win a medal. Beam remains to be her best apparatus event, in which she has a top-10-quality routine and an elite 6.4 start value. On such an unstable and terrifying apparatus, she can do anything as long as she remains calm during the execution of the routine. 

"A lot of other girls find it quite scary," Monckton admits. "I mean, it's one-and-a-half metres in the air and it's 10 centimetres wide, so it's as wide as your iPhone.”

"When I was younger, I just would do skills on the floor and then my coach would say 'go to the beam' and I didn't really have much fear, and it's always been like that with me. There's some things that I get a little bit scared or anxious about, but when I go for it I just have this exhilaration that I can't find anywhere else. I just love being able to do flips up there; it's really fun."

However, her coaches, Peggy Liddick and Tracey Penaluna, a senior coach at the VIS, must sometimes protect perfectionist Monckton against her own self. Not physically, as her dedication and diligence guarantees that she’s never idle in the gym. The adjustment lies more on the psychological side; to prevent the young athlete on dwelling with minor slip-ups and mistakes, and rather focus on the process and not on the outcome. 

"She's a joy to have around but, if anything, she's too hard on herself," says Liddick. "I have to sort of protect Mary-Anne from Mary-Anne sometimes because she's her own worst critic." There are, however, no issues with her professionalism. "She's probably one of the hardest workers in the gym, and I don't mean just when I say do 10, she'll do 11, it's not that. It's when nobody's watching … she really wants to do this."

If ever the Australian team fails to make it on the top eight teams, there is still a chance to secure a berth at the Olympic test event on April, on which four more teams will get the chance to claim an Olympic qualification. Furthermore, if ever Monckton would be a part of the selection team, she would be required to add a floor routine to her repertoire as the members will be reduced from seven to five in the Rio Summer Olympics.

Even so, expect that the young athlete will do whatever is needed, as this young athlete whose love for the sport originated from being capable of doing what other kids couldn’t, is still managing a degree of difficulty that most would see as too great. "She has every reason to say it's all too hard, but she still comes to the gym every morning, never misses a day," says Liddick. "It's just something that she wants, really deep down, and that's why she's here. And I'm glad she is."

The 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships will take place at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. The Australian team is comprised of Georgia-Rose Brown, Georgia Godwin, Madelaine Leydin, Emily Little, Larrissa Miller, Mary-Anne Monckton, Kiara Munteanu.

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