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Fear Factor: The "G" Word

Friday, January, 27, 2012
By Lynne Smiley

Why is it that one simple word can illicit such fear in the hearts and minds of school administrators and teachers everywhere? You know, the “G” word – Gymnastics. If I called it “fitness” would that help relieve your racing heart palpitations?

Historically, gymnastics has formed the core of physical education programs throughout the world. Its foundation is based on physical training principles through the learning of fitness and movement fundamentals (balance, locomotion, rotation, springing, swinging, and landing), with or without, or on an apparatus. The training for greater fitness development in endurance, strength, power, flexibility, agility, speed and co-ordination, is the key to successful learning of any sport specific skills, not just gymnastics skills.

It is so important to our youth that schools, administrators, teachers, coaches and teacher advisors can offer a variety of activities for students by providing healthy, active lifestyles through sport, while providing safe environments for their participation in sport. With this in mind, let me take some of the fear out of the “G” word by providing information about the sanctioned OFSAA Sport of Girls’ Gymnastics.

In OFSAA Girls’ Gymnastics there are 6 competitive levels. Levels 1 to 3 are beginner levels for girls with little or no experience in gymnastics other than what they have learned in their school programs. Levels 4 to 6 accommodates the athletes who have club or competitive experience. This is a high school sport for girls, and the rules are designed to embrace the inexperienced and experienced athlete, yet is not exclusive to nor dominated by club trained gymnasts. Although many school teams may utilize gymnastics clubs (teacher advisor/teacher coach must be in attendance) to train in a safe environment where equipment apparatus is available, OFSAA Technical Rules mandate that a minimum of one practice a week must take place within their school which could be conditioning practice or working on choreography.

Gymnastics is uniquely different than any other of the team or individual sports offered to high school girls due to the artistic and creative nature of the sport, as well as the athletic skills involved. Besides Women’s Artistic Gymnastics, which is comprised of Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise, Aerobic Gymnastics is also part of OFSAA Girls Gymnastics. There’s that “G” word again.  If I called it “Sport Aerobics” would you start breathing again?

What is Aerobic Gymnastics?

Aerobic Gymnastics is another exciting and dynamic discipline of the sport of gymnastics. Its popularity is world-wide with programs operating from recreational (Aero-Gym), school-based programs to OFSAA, Provincial, National, and International competitive programs. Aerobic Dance (which allows more dance content) is the newest event category to debut on the world stage. Recreation or school-based programs call it Gym Dance.  
Aerobic Gymnastics is a creative combination of aerobic and dance choreography with fitness difficulty elements such as pushups, holds, jumps/leaps and turns. No tumbling is allowed although forward, back, and side rolls may be used for changing levels. It involves high-energy/cardio routines that maximize development of core strength, flexibility and power and is performed in a 12x12 floor area/space (a matted –spring floor is not required). In group routines, lifts are required; however, unlike cheerleading, propulsion on lifts is prohibited. 

OFSAA  Aerobic Gymnastics (aka Sports Aerobics)

Aerobic Gymnastics is a team competition. A team may be comprised of 4, 5 or 6 competitors. There are two competitive OFSAA Aerobic Gymnastics (Sports Aerobics) categories.

Open: This category may consist of teams from schools competing in artistic gymnastics or may be teams from schools that do not have or compete in the artistic gymnastics program.

Novice: All team members must be competing in Artistic Gymnastics Levels 1 – 3.  Each member of a school’s Novice Aerobic Gymnastics’ team must have competed as a member of the school’s artistic gymnastics team in at least one artistic gymnastics competition during the current competitive season. Members of the school’s aerobic gymnastics team do not have to qualify for an OFSAA artistic gymnastics event to qualify for the OFSAA aerobic gymnastics team.

Aerobic Gymnastics is an activity that can provide enhancement to existing fitness, dance or gymnastics programs in the curriculum; as well as offering the opportunity for high school competition in the sanctioned OFSAA Sport of Girls Gymnastics. To see the sport in action, check out the video clip from the OFSAA 2010 Provincial Championship

No need to fear the “G” word any longer. Please contact your local Athletic Association for information on your Association entry process to attend the OFSAA Gymnastics Championship.

Resources Available to You
  • To learn more about the school-based gymnastics’ programs, workshop sessions are being offered at the OFSAA Women’s Sport School in May 2012.
  • For information on Aerobic Gymnastics please contact Lynne Smiley at 905-648-1662 or email bsmiley25@cogeco.ca.
  • If you would like to know about coaching courses available please visit Gymnastics Ontario website- www.ogf.com, call 416-426-7096 or email yuliana@ogf.com.
  • The Technical Rules & Playing Regulations are located on the OFSAA website here.

Lynne Smiley is a retired teacher and former member of the OFSAA Gymnastics Sport Advisory Committee.