Saturday, 23 March 2019


Reader Holly Mai shares her love for gymnastics and how sometimes it can be a struggle but you should never give up!

I first became interested in gymnastics because of a scooter (which had the Olympic rings on) in my garage! It’s not every day you find an inspirational item in your garage…. Anyway soon enough I was on the waiting list for gymnastic lessons and I don’t think it was that long until I was offered a place. My Tuesday’s were made!

When I first started, I could not do much more than a bunny hop. I’m pretty sure my only dream was to be able to do a cartwheel and a handstand. My main struggle back then was to actually start doing this move called a ‘bridge’ as I kept getting it wrong and doing it on my head. Eventually I learnt to do it properly and I was very pleased - this was one of the main challenges, as you need this move in order to do walkovers. When my first competition came it was quite cringeworthy - I forgot to 'present' and when I did I just put my arms to the side and ran off, which is not what you're supposed to do at all!

I started to watch the older girls in squads do gymnastics and I decided this what I would like to do. I decided to ask my mum and dad whether I could do two hours a week… and eventually they agreed! So I started to train with the squad he hardest challenges was probably the beam as it was haunted by a horrid memory. When I tried to do a cartwheel on the beam for the very first time, I fell and twisted my ankle. The bars were my favourite apparatus as I could twist and turn well. Another challenge was to ‘circle up’ because you have to be able to do that to do any other tricks on the bar. Eventually I learnt to do circle ups and entered my first disability competition with my friend Sophie. It was quite good as I did earn four gold medals so I was very happy at that point. It’s been a bit of a struggle, one week I'd go home crying and then the next week I would have learnt the move and feel really proud of myself.                                                                                                                             
I got moved up into different groups over the years and my most recent group is the disability development squad (I have hyper-mobility, but have never let this stand in my way). You get a choice of what to wear in any group, it’s either a crop top and shorts or a leotard. I just wear a leotard and shorts,  in winter though you should wear leggings and come into the gym. If you are wearing earrings you take them out or tape them up, if you hang long hair you just have it up in a ponytail or a plait. If you are starting to do more hours you could get a gym bag to put things you will need in. For example, a bag containing hand guards and some chalk if you need some, all though it should be provided in the gym. You might possibly need some tape if in case you have damaged something or you have disinformative knees like me and you have  hurt them and they feel funny and hurt a bit when you walk,  you would use the tape when that happens to stabilise them.

It was quite a struggle getting to where I am now nothing has changed but the groups and my worst apparatus is still the beam (because of my hyper-mobility). Luckily I have got some tips if you want to start gymnastics!

1. Don’t start at a young age - well you can, but don’t do lots of hours because if you do that you get burnt out and you don’t find it fun and you may start to get bored.
2. If you want fun, go to recreational gymnastics and if you do like it, the max is probably two hours a week if you're still quite young.
3. If you’re a bit older and getting serious about it you can add more hours.
4. Ask around to find the best gymnastic classes and clubs in your area!

Amazing - it sounds like hard work, but Holly Mai must feel so proud at her achievements!! Have YOU had experience as a gymnast? COMMENT BELOW with any tips or cool stories!

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