Gymnastics develops focus, coordination
By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- Indian River Gymnastics Academy is a place where jumping on cushions, skipping indoors and flying through the air, with good form, is encouraged and applauded.
The six-year-old gymnastics academy is a place where children and youth can come to have fun, exercise and train their bodies and as a result, learn to overcome obstacles, focus, listen and discipline their lives, said owner Jessica Slavin.
The gym has programs for those 18 months to 18 years, Ms. Slavin said.
The gym is a member of USA Gymnastics, the sole national governing body for the sport of gymnastics in the U.S. and currently has students with skills ranging in levels one to seven. There are 10 typical levels of gymnasts before students advance to an elite level, Ms. Slavin said.
In a recent class, elementary-age girls in colorful leotards spread out on the floor of the gym to work out their muscles for their coaches.
Pointing toes and kicking high were just as important as listening for the next instruction. Later, when the stretching was over, all the girls proudly smiled as they were all able to complete their famous splits for the camera.
Exposure to gymnastics at a young age can be very beneficial for children, even should they ultimately choose to pursue other sports, Ms. Slavin said.
The flexibility, coordination, balance and strength training students receive in gymnastics translate well into skills needed for soccer, wrestling, basketball and other sports, she said.
"(It's) just being aware of your body, really. Some kids don't know where their bodies are and even just being upside down can give them a better understanding of that," Ms. Slavin said.
Girls are the predominant students at the academy, but there are a few boys, as well, she said.
In addition to regular classes during the week, every Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. is kid's night out for children ages 4-12.
For $10 -- less than the cost of a babysitter -- children can expend energy, make new friends and learn how to work on gymnastic apparatus, Ms. Slavin said.
The gym is also open for birthday party reservations. The various packages include supervised play, balloons, invitations, paper products and more.
"Parents love it because they don't have to do anything," Ms. Slavin said with a laugh.
Indian River Gymnastics Academy is located at 7701 130th St., Sebastian. For more information, call (772) 589-5894 or visit www.indianrivergymnastics.com.