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Would gymnastics help her gain flexibility and strength?


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Most of the girls in my DD's school with noticeable flexibility have done gymnastics before they have started ballet. My daughter is 10 now, has been dancing since she was 4. She has never been a flexible or athletic child. Now that she is getting more serious in ballet, lack of flexibility and strength has been limiting her progress. Would gymnastics ( only once a week classes) help her gain flexibility and strength? I know that gymnastics promotes arched back, but since she has a ballet foundation can she overcome that? I also thought about Pilates but she is to young to attend group classes, and privates are extremely pricey. Former gymnastics parents, please share your experiences.

Edited by longcommute
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I honestly do not know if it would help her.My daughter started rhytmic gymnastics when she was 6.She's verry flexible and also verry strong,but I don't know if that benefits her in ballet.She only started ballet this year,so it's difficult for me to say(She's 10yo now)

She scored well on her exams,but I don't know if her gymnastics helped her with it.

The only thing that does benefit her,is the disciplin she learned in rg.They told us she's the most disciplined student in her class,and that's one thing i'm sure off,she got that during her years in gymnastics.

But they don't get that from 1 hour a week,and i'm not sure one houre a week will change that much in flexibility and strenght either.

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My daughter tumbled and did gymnastics twice a week from ages 5-11, but honestly, I don't believe it aided her flexibility much. It did help her get over her fear of flipping, falling and being tossed (she did it for the cheerleading squad) and she's an awesome partner as a result now (at 17). Her flexibility didn't improve until she was 12 or so, got serious about it on her own, and began to work on it at the studio and at home. Now she's surprisingly flexible, though definitely not a gumby. Apparently, it can come with age.

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I do not recommend gymnastics. I don't like the over-stretching, which they do a lot. The arched back is a serious problem and I don't think a 10 year old is going to have the kind of control needed to avoid that. The use of their arms and hands create very tense and tight positions which are not at all relative to ballet. And, as said above, the flexibility can develop through the ballet training and perhaps some much safer Pilates when she is old enough.

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My dd (12 now) did gymnastics from ages 4-10 and was even on the gymnastics team for awhile. I was so sad when she quit!!


Anyway--While I think it may have helped with her flexibility, I think it is also contributed to her arch back that interferes with dance.

If I knew she was going to be serious about dancing, then I would not have encouraged gymnastics.

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Related question, gymnastics training (not the serious competition stuff, just the fundamentals and very basics) starts a lot younger than does ballet training (I've seen it offered for kids as young as 1), is there any benefit for a dancer to do the toddler gym classes before he or she ever enters a ballet studio? Or, would this be detrimental to a potential career with the overstretching tendency?

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I seriously doubt that the tumbling stuff they do with toddlers would hurt anything. I don't really know a lot about what they do, but it would seem to me to be just some very basic things like somersaults, right?

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As far as I can see,the toddlergym my daughter was in could realy help for kids who have problems with coordination.There is absolutely no risk for overstretching at that age,they don't do that kind of things with them.The only risk is that the flexible kids get picked out to move on to the more serious pre-competition groups.And once your kid got a taste of it and likes it,it's hard to try to get them away again. :yes:

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I agree, there isn't much stretching at all in Toddler ballet classes. It's the same sort of introduction to movement (gymnastics related) as pre-dance classes are to ballet. There's just lots of running, jumping, use of equipment (like walking on the low beam with help) and maybe a forward roll or two.

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The type of movement encouraged in the 'toddler gym' classes is actually very good for the kids developmentally. When my children were very young, I had a wonderful early childhood mentor whom I loved to ask about her field.


I remember her telling me that the reason the early childhood center at the pre-school she was head of had the 'kinder gym' was to encourage the bilateral co-ordination in the kids. She specifically told me that a child would not be developmentally ready to write her letters until she was able to cross the diagonal of her body, hence the teaching of cartwheels in the kinder gym.


I thought that a curious thing so I watched which kids were able to do some symblence of a cartwheel, i.e., managing to cross the diagonal whether their feet/legs ever made it up into the air or not. Sure enough, those kids that were actually writing letters in their pre-school class were the kids that were able to cross that diagonal. Those kids that weren't yet writing letters were the ones who weren't yet able to cross their body's diagonal.


In addition, one of my kiddoes has/had a minor auditory processing learning disability (that's really a 'catch-all' term, I believe). My nephew has a more pronounced one. My kiddo was involved in gymnastics beginning age 4 and was quite adept at the skills. She continued in gymnastics until age 10. In discussing the difference in learning disabilities with my mentor and, later, my kiddo's tutor, both told me that the reason my kiddo was able to accommodate for her learning disability so well was most probably because of her early gymnastics/co-ordination training. Her learning disability is almost non-existent now because of the compensation methods she learned from her tutor.


My nephew, on the other hand, did not have that early gymnastics/co-ordination training. When he was finally diagnosed and sent for 'vision therapy' (which, by the way did help significantly), the doctor told my sister that gymnastics at an early age would have helped him significantly and that by age 8, there was less benefit that could be accomplished with that particular therapy than if he had begun it prior to age 8.


So, all in all, I am a firm believer in the benefits of early gymnastics/co-ordination opportunities for purposes of child readiness development.

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I'm certainly no expert, so I have no advice, but I do know what you mean. My son (almost 10) was very dissapointed to find that he lost a lot of flexibility and strength when he quit competitive gymnastics to focus on classical ballet a couple years ago. It drove him crazy to see his former teammates becoming so much stronger and more flexible than him over time. So, he talked us into putting him into a non-competitive boys gymnastics class a couple of months ago, and he is now very pleased with how much more flexible he's become and the increasing muscle definition in his arms and abs. His ballet teacher says the gymnastics class is very good for him, but I think that might be a boy thing and not applicable to girls.


Along those lines... My son goes to a junior olympic training center, and I hadn't been there in a couple of years. When I went for my son's first class a couple months ago I was absolutely amazed at how huge the elite level girls were! I had become so used to seeing tiny ballerinas at my son's ballet academy and couldn't believe the size of the gymnasts. I think their thighs were twice the diameter of the dancers' waists!















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Thank you all so much. As most of you have mentioned once a week gymnastics would probably have no effect on flexibility or strength at this point, and may cause more harm than good. Last thing I want her is to pick up bad habits, since she already has a lot to work on. Thank you again.

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Re: my earlier question...

whew! I was a little worried. :-) My girls have done tots gym in the past and LOVED it, but at they same time they are most happy when moving to music (whatever music), I was worried those early years might have affected their dancing.

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My dd was being fast tracked in gymnastics at the age of four. She was put in a class that practiced three hours at a time, 3 times a week. Even though she quit after a couple of years to concentrate on dancing, she built the wrong kind of leg muscles. It has taken her six years to come close to the long lean leg muscles a ballet dancer should have. She still laments the bigger thigh muscles the gymnastics built.

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