Tumbling & Cheers to Encourage a Healthy Life

tumbling-and-cheerIf you are reading this magazine, you’re at least interested in living a healthy lifestyle, and you probably would like your kids to be on board, too. If you want to instill good habits like fitness, the best time to start is when they’re young. Sports are a great place to look, and some sports, like tumbling and cheerleading, can be started as early as 3 years of age; though the benefits these light gymnastics provide could last a lifetime.

Tumbling is something kids do naturally as they begin to develop their motor skills. It’s good to encourage the activity, since practice leads to firmer muscles, improved balance and coordination, and increased flexibility, all of which are vital for the development of a strong body. Moving their tumbling to a professional setting allows a trainer to encourage proper movement, maximizing these benefits.

“I always talk about the health benefits first … that stays with you forever. Being healthy and having to stay fit will help you all your life,” says Dustin Edwards, the owner of Funtastics Cheerleading & Tumbling in Sarasota. “Growing up in sports creates healthy adults because you’re building good repetition of diet, exercise, and stretching.”

Dustin says that cheerleading and tumbling are uniquely beneficial because they are sports that utilize only the body, as opposed to a ball or a bat. Those who participate develop a deeper sense of body awareness and increased flexibility that follows them through their athletic life, regardless of what sport they participate in during the future.

Partaking in tumbling and cheerleading will also help build social skills, since children work with others their own age in a cooperative, team-based environment. Going to a gym to tumble gets kids out of the house and interacting with a diverse group of people, building friendships and a system of support and motivation. Kids will feel strong and independent while also learning to listen, respect others, and work as a team.

Jamie Griffitts, the owner of Acrofit Gymnastics in Sarasota, says that competitive tumbling helps kids focus on long-term goals and is good for their self-esteem.

“The number one thing it does is build their self confidence,” she says. “Because they were physically able to do something they could never do before, they start smiling and gleaming – the most timid kids. … It’s the strong, cool kids who can go across the monkey bars.”

The number one fear parents have about signing their son/daughter up for any sport is injuries. Jamie says those fears are misguided, and that learning to tumble properly may even help protect toddlers from household falls. If you have any reservations about letting your child tumble or cheer, talking to a trainer may help put those fears to rest.

“They’re doing a handstand and a cartwheel, they’re not falling off of anything,” Jamie says. “We have so much equipment now to safely hold the body weight of the students that they don’t even have to rely on the instructor being able to hold the child’s body weight when they’re upside down. We have pieces of equipment that can do that now.”

With any physical activity there are risks for injury, but don’t let an overprotective attitude keep your child from becoming active in sports. The youngest years of life are the best time to start developing future skills and instilling good habits. It’s a time to try new things that stimulate the body and mind, and there’s no better way than youth gymnastics and tumbling, since kids can start at such a young age. The benefits of adopting an active lifestyle early are numerous and extend beyond exercise and weight management. If your child maintains their healthy lifestyle into adulthood, they may just thank you for making it fun early in life.