I went out on a limb and walked into Atlantic Gymnastics one day, the gym I had wanted to train at as a kid. I was lucky enough that the head coach was there and I could talk to him. I was able to start training at Atlantic at age 25. It was a dream come true.
It was an easy process to join the team - I was asked to watch an entire practice, and then I was allowed to try it for a day. I absolutely, positively loved it there! Finally I had access to appropriate conditioning programs that helped me maximize my ability to both learn new skills and perfect old ones. I also had wonderful training plans created for me that made improving in gymnastics feel automatic. I was fortunate enough to be able to work out with the team girls so that I had others at the same level as me (USAG level 8 at the time). Socially it wasn’t ideal, but athletically it was a perfect fit. I was able to come to practice 3-4 times per week rather than the 5 times most of the girls came, but that was ideal for me and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have found such a fit. It was exhausting working full time and practicing upwards of 15 hours a week, but it was a pleasant exhaustion. 😂
My first order of the day when returning to compete as an adult was to take ownership of my routines. Working with the coaches I had worked with growing up, I always felt pressure to do the skills they wanted me to do that maybe I wasn’t as comfortable with. At Atlantic I was able to let the coaches know the skills I was interested in keeping into my routines and the ones I didn’t want to compete. The cool thing was that the kids who trained there got the same choice and control as I did! Watching such a healthy gym function helped me realize the flaws of some of my prior gyms. On the side of working my simpler routines I always trained a huge variety of skills, which Atlantic encouraged. However it really helped my confidence to be able to compete routines that I was comfortable with so that I could build up my confidence, something that I always lacked as a child.
I was able to utilize their great Tumbltrak into a loose foam fit setup, something that I never had access to before. I was able to try my first double back and double front there as well as my first double back flyaway. I was able to compete a Tsuk for the first time! I was able to finally get comfortable (well, if there is such a thing) with my back handspring on beam. I learned a front full on floor. I competed a layout ½, which was an element (back twisting) that I always had a huge mental struggle with.
Funny story - I had always tried twisting righty but a coach at Atlantic realized that I actually was a lefty twister!
I got my clear hip handstand and my ½ pirouette. I was able to train
stalders, blind changes and front giants. My dream in gymnastics was always to
see just how far I could go. It wasn’t necessarily about what I competed - it’s
about what I could try. I wanted to see what I could learn when all systems
were firing in my favor. And I was able to do that from age 25 through 36,
which are ages when, for most, gymnastics is a distant memory.
I am actually glad that I got a late start in gymnastics
looking back because I am not so sure I would have appreciated the sport the
way I did if I had grown up with it. I also believe getting a late start may
have helped me keep my serious injury list a bit shorter. I had physical things
that I worked though, of course, the most notable being an ankle surgery and a
compression fracture in my back, but for the most part I was healthy throughout
my adult gymnastics career. I’m also proud to say that I never had to scratch a
gymnastics meet that I signed up for due to injury! And that is saying a lot,
especially as an older athlete. I attribute all of the great conditioning that
my gym provided to what helped keep me healthy, in addition to much improved nutrition
from when I was a kid. My career as a personal trainer was helpful too, because
I was able to use the weight training and interval cardio knowledge I had for
my benefit in the sport.
Whether you do adult gymnastics to put a fun spin on a
sport that wore you down in the past, or you are using it to reach new athletic
heights for yourself, I am so glad that you are in our adult gymnastics world
and I hope you get just as much out of it as I did 🙂
Need help accessing adult gymnastics resources for yourself? Poke around on this site, and if that doesn't do it, contact me.
Performing on floor at competitions is always a treat!