8 Reasons Why You Should Do Gymnastics As An Adult

adult-gymnastics

When was the last time you did a cartwheel? Swung upside down on the rings? Or jumped on a trampoline?

If your answer is not since you were six years old, I can relate.

I did gymnastics up until I was probably in first grade, at which point I decided they were too “girly” and promptly stopped going (it probably didn’t help that even back then, it was obvious that I didn’t have a gymnast’s build). But until that time when I decided I was too cool for it (a decision I very much regret), I thought gymnastics were awesome.

All that flipping, and being upside down, and the jumping around, and the foam pit—what could be more fun than that?

Fast forward to a few months ago, and I decided it was time to try it all over again.

Back to basics

My first gymnastics class in 21 years was tough. Sure, I’d played around doing some cartwheels, bridges and freestanding handstands here and there since I’d learned them as a little kid, but the truth was that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

Unsurprisingly, I had terrible form. My flexibility (especially in my back) needed improvement. I kept forgetting to point my toes (apparently, there’s actually a reason to do this). By the end, my shoulders were shaking, my neck sore, my hair dripping with sweat. Let’s just say that for a fitness professional and someone used to working out hard, often, it was an incredibly humbling experience.

I went home and practiced my handstands, tried to stay straight while doing cartwheels, did shoulder shrugs to strengthen my shoulders (which have been a lifelong weakness of mine) and back bends to gain flexibility. It truly felt like I was going back to the basics.

But damn, was it fun.

It only took one class—and I was hooked.

Adults can be gymnasts, too

As of writing this today, I’m six gymnastics classes in. I’ve made leaps and bounds of improvement. I can now officially do cartwheels, roundoffs, kickovers, back bends, forward rolls, straddled forward rolls, pike jumps, handstands into a forward roll… you get the drift. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the floor, rings, and bar skills I have the potential to learn.

I am still not “graceful” doing any of these exercises. If you hadn’t noticed from any of my videos, I’m always just a little awkward, and that’s probably never going to change. It’s a good thing I didn’t take ballerina classes instead—I would have sucked at them.

My arms and legs are way too long for normal gymnastics. They hinder rather than help me (the average height of an Olympic gymnast is 4’9″—I’m a foot higher than that).

I still have shoulder issues. I will always, I think, have shoulder issues. But I’m learning to work around them and further strengthen with these new movements.

I still need to increase my back flexibility, something you don’t really think about when you’re doing stuff like burpees, push ups and squats. But, now that I realize I need to work on it, I’ve been paying attention to it more.

Yet despite all these things, despite the fact that I know I’ll never be an amazing gymnast, I’ve never had more fun.

Just to prove it to you, here’s a very awkward/dorky video of a few of the skills I’ve been working on so far (hopefully I’ll have a much more impressive video for you in a few months):

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that I’m constantly recommending you to try new sports, activities and to go beyond your current personal limits. I believe this is an incredibly important thing to do to keep pushing your personal boundaries, to gain confidence and new skills, and to keep that youthful hope and enthusiasm we all started out life with alive.

And whether you decide to try out gymnastics or opt for another sport, my hope is that you always keep learning and pushing yourself so that you’re always growing as an athlete—and as a person in general.

But that being said, here are 8 reasons you should do gymnastics as an adult:

1. It will get you crazy strong.

You might not have guessed it, but gymnasts are the strongest, pound for pound, of all the Olympic athletes.

Holding yourself upside down for long periods of time, flipping through the air, using rings and bars and all the other amazing stuff involved in gymnastics will get you seriously strong. Gymnasts have a level of strength that most normal people would consider near superhuman strength—but even training in gymnastics as an amateur will get you upper body strength, core strength and power like no other workout can do.

2. You’ll impress your friends.

This probably isn’t a good reason to do gymnastics if you have no other interest in it (ok, it’s a really bad reason), but even doing a backflip, a freestanding handstand push up or a cartwheel into a handstand forward roll will get you a “wow” response from your friends every time.

Just think of how many cool party tricks you’ll be able to pull off!

3. You’ll increase your flexibility tenfold.

Or twentyfold. Or whatever. The point is, I don’t care how inflexible you currently are—training in gymnastics will make you a more flexible person.

Working on backbends and pikes require more flexibility than the average workout. And yes, you may even be able to do the splits one day.

4. You’ll become more coordinated.

If you’ve ever thought you were an uncoordinated human being, I can certainly relate. As I mentioned above, I am the opposite of graceful, and more and more understand why my brother’s nickname for me used to be “spaghetti arms:” I’m just not very coordinated.

Taking part in gymnastics, however, will increase your coordination by helping you gain more control over your body. I’ve noticed I’ve become more coordinated and less “floppy” after only six classes, so you can get there too.

5. It will help you overcome fear.

That first time you go to do a handstand into a roll, or a backbend all the way to the floor, or a backflip, front flip, or even a cartwheel, there’s no way around it—it’s going to be terrifying. Even if there’s an experienced teacher nearby, unless you’re crazy and completely devoid of fear, you’re going to be nervous, even scared.

But when you do it—when you actually do what you’d previously thought to be impossible—it opens up a whole new world. Not only does it make you become less fearful and more confident in athletics, it can also translate to other areas of your life, even positively impaction your career, your relationships, and your dreams.

6. It helps you learn to fall without hurting yourself.

Have you ever seen someone fall gracefully—whether in sports, life, or a movie—and wonder how they didn’t get hurt? The secret is that they’ve practiced falling—many times. In gymnastics, you’ll fall over and over, and you’ll start to realize there’s an art to falling without hurting yourself.

As a bonus, gymnastics’ will boost your balance, and both skills will help keep you from falling and shattering your hip bone when you’re older.

7. You’ll learn to laugh at yourself.

There’s nothing better than making mistakes over and over to make you get over being good at everything and just learn to laugh when you screw up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen, done something completely wrong, or failed time and time again to get something right while learning gymnastics.

Sure, it’s frustrating at times, but if I didn’t learn early on to laugh at myself when I messed up, I’d have quit after the first lesson.

And in case you hadn’t guessed, this can also be a valuable lesson that can assist you in the rest of life as well.

8. It brings out your inner kid.

What’s more kid-like than bounding around, jumping, flipping and swinging from things? Yeah, I can’t name anything either.

No matter your age, gymnastics will bring you back to the days when childlike wonder filled every moment.

And what could be better than that?

Image credit: Rick McCharles

63 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why You Should Do Gymnastics As An Adult

  1. I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel or the rings. I’ve never had upper body strength. In fact if I reach behind me a certain way I get a sharp pain; have had this issue as long as I can remember. I too am totally uncoordinated.

  2. I can remember the time I was able to do all of that. But it just seems as you get older all those things just fall by the waste side. The last thing I want to do is try to impress my friends while trying to figure out how to get myself untwisted like a pretzel. But I can definitely believe gymnastics can make you strong because it helps to build muscle.

    • Haha yes, please don’t go out and try and impress your friends before learning anything! Try not to think of age as a prohibitor though – there’s a 50+ woman in my class and she ROCKS at it. Just start slow, and you can do anything you put your mind to!

  3. Hey, I think your video is pretty impressive! And what you wrote is quite inspriring (and funny). I’m struggling with my yoga because of lack of strength and inflexibilty, but it’s fun, a challenge, and I love it.

  4. Hi Krista,
    Awesome post! I’m so glad you are enjoying gymnastics as an adult. I run the adult gymnastics section of http://www.gymnastike.org, a gymnastics video website. Among other things, we offer a community for adult gymnasts and a list of classes around the world so that others can find adult classes near them: http://www.gymnastike.org/page/Adult-Gymnastics. Feel free to share this with others who may be interested in trying or continuing gymnastics as an adult.

    Marina

  5. Pingback: 2014 GYMNASTICS WC
  6. Hey,

    Always wanted to do a frontfliphence this article piqued my interest.

    I’m 29, 6’4, 210 – am i too tall/heavy for gymnastics?

  7. Hey,

    Always wanted to do a front flip hence this article piqued my interest.

    I’m 29, 6’4, 210 – am i too tall/heavy for gymnastics?

    • No way, you should definitely give it a shot, Serge! Although any sort of bodyweight training becomes easier the leaner you are, there is absolutely no reason that if you work at it you can master a front flip.

    • Go for it Serge. I’m 26, 5’10, 214 lbs and I wrecked some shop the other day in my old high school gymnastics gym. In my experience, some of the tallest guys were the highest flippers. You’re definitely not too heavy.

    • Im 28 disabled and i successfully did my first split two days ago. Wbile handstand ks no as metal plate in wrist makes pancake hands impossible. I can do a back roll,shoulder stand, working on elbow stands and forward rolls using elbows. You can dk a lot it just takes time to grt splits start with half split and work on lunges i figured sense i was inch off ground in lunge for forward split i figured i would try and i did it.

  8. Hi I’m rika and I think gymnastics is a beautifull sport and I wish I could have done it since I was a kid oh well I’m still gonna give it a shot oh and I’m 21 by the way and I am working on my back flexibility and I hope it will pay off at the end of the day am I too old to get my back completely flexible?

  9. not dorky at all krista! more like..incredible!
    you have great grace! serious..

    love your philosophy and contagious positive attitude..
    you’ve given me back hope for my physical fitness and have revolutionized my regime so i am determining not to look back!

    keep up the awesomeness!

    and love your chocolate chip protein cookies! 🙂

  10. Good for you!! <3 I love playing around with all the gymnasts at the gym my daughter goes to and that I coach at. It's so fun and definitely makes you feel young again.

  11. I did adult gymnastics from 25 to 28 and that was great! I really suggest to try if you are interested. I didn’t learn many things but I was strong ad flexible, plus I had a lot of fun. I’d like to start again but I’m almost 33 now and I don’t know if its a good idea. What do you think?

  12. I’m a size 18 5’3” and I’ve always wanted to try gymnastics but I’m afraid I’m too heavy. I have done 3 half marathons and do roller derby. What do you think?

  13. Thanx for the great blog. It`s really cool.
    I am 43 and started learning gymnastic stuff all by myself since no adult classes are available around. (Here in Sri Lanka)
    I know what I am doing is not real gymnastics.. but I am far too strong. And flexible .
    I recommend that everybody should give it a try.

  14. Agree with no reservations! Gymnastics keeps you young in body, soul and spirit. I met many friends through gymnastics – in Australia, New Zealand, China and Korea. I met 8 yo kids doing 40 handstand push-ups and 75 yo doing back handspring. Although I am 60 yo I look at least 10 years younger and I am likely more fit than an avarage 25 yo. Gymnastics is more than just sport – it is a lifestyle!

  15. I absolutely love your video, and reading your article! I’ve been wanting to get back into gymnastics but lack the motivation as I fear I won’t be able to do anything since I quit competitive gymnastics over 10 years ago! Thanks for this! Makes me want to get back out there.

  16. Hello, Thanks for sharing this article! Really enjoyed reading it.

    I am 26 years old and I have experience in ballet and figureskating so I have a good base of flexibility. I want to know if I have a chance at all in learning backflips and other moves at the same difficulty. Hope you can answer based on your experience 🙂

  17. I am still trying. Got my handstand back up to over 10 seconds! Goal is 1 minute by summer. Shoulder won’t take much else. Wes

  18. I did gymnastics in high school and coached a competive team. I just went to my first gymnastics class for adults and it has been at least 17 years since I’ve tried tumbling. I am 48 years old and another lady in the class is 58! We were working on handstand forward rolls, front and back walk overs, back hand springs…I am hoping soon to get my strength and flexibility back to the point of going for round off, back handspring, back tuck. This is sooo much fun and harder than my usual cardio and weight training.

    • Where are you taking classes? I am 22 and would love to get into/learn gymnastics but don’t know where they offer adult gymnastics classes.

      • I go to Gymtowne Gymnastics in Montara, CA.

        I did my research and checked out all the facilities in my area on google. Good luck!

  19. It can be done – I turned 40 this year (ouch..!) and just started adult gymnastics classes..! Better late than never. That used to be my dream when a teen as could do some stuff, but no venue around that offered this at the time.. So first time ever – and have proper cartwheels mastered:-) and what fun!! Was amazing to feel this soft springy foam floor and experience to be in a proper gymnasium.. I`ll add tho I`ve done advanced yoga and acroyoga before and always have been extremely flexible and energetic, so that was helpful. Recently also took on ice skating (which I absolutely love), and both sports compliment each other beautifully. You just need to have lots of energy to burn (jumps and rolls and many repetitions).. Don`t get discouraged just because you`re older if you really like stuff like this, are pretty fit and a bit fearless! And even if not, it`s still such a great sport and you can learn new skills, get strenght and flexibility.. No chances for an olympic career (as 15 year old retire in this sport) but you`re just at the beginning;-)!

  20. I am starting my first adult gymnastics class tonight here at Dubai! Your blog is a good & stimulating prep! I’m 34 now, quit when I was 15. I need to lose my “puppy fat” (which ironically appeared after my 30s) and all other sports are just too repetitive and boring. Always nice to see that there are others like you!

  21. Hello Iam a boy and Iam 16 I have just started gymnastics this week with a private coach and am willing to take 4 sessions 2 hours and half each a week I have just entered in a swimming team ( just saying that my fitness is not that bad) so Iam asking if I have chance to be a good gymnast I can even quit swimming and take gymnastics everyday it’s the sport I really loved since i was young Iam really excited finally found a place after a long search but at same time I feel that I really need motivation to keep that enthusiasm and go on so i was asking if I have a chance to be a really good gymnast i really need help and sorry for speaking much and thank you a lot !

  22. hi myself karthi. i need some advice for doing gymnatic. my daughter doing practice in gymnastic and athlete at the same time.her athlete coach has been advised dont do both at same time.if any problem on that

  23. Where did you train? I am 19 years old and would love to get into it! I am just having a hard time of finding where to go or even how to get started!

  24. Gymnastics is a awesome sport! I loved gymnastics as a child and decided to take it up again as an adult. Gymnastics is really fun, and almost everybody can become good at it. Happy tumbling!

  25. I used to be able to do front and back walkovers and back handsprings when I was a teenager. I’m turning 45 this year and decided I want to try and see if I can relearn those skills. I lift and workout regularly, but am not nearly as flexible as I used to be. Plus, I’m a little heavier than I was when I was a kid, lol. I’ve started doing wall handstands and stretches for my back. I hope I can do it!!

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