Crawley gymnastics club welcomes back members for first time following indoor sport ban
A gymnastics club from Crawley has reopened its doors for under-18s group sessions, to the delight of young gymnasts.
After showing impressive flexibility - only too easy for gymnasts - making do with home-based training and Zoom classes, Hawth Gymnastics can finally enjoy hosting in-person sessions.
For so many young gymnasts, gym facilities being closed has meant an abrupt break in training they have never before had to cope with, along with missing out on seeing friends and learning together.
As the British Gymnastics roadmap is at last able to be put into motion, clubs up and down the country began the return to normality on Monday, with all age groups planned to be able to take part in socially distanced gymnastics sessions from May 17.
Amber Simpson-Warner, head coach at Hawth Gymnastics, said: “The kids can’t wait to get stuck back in and the parents have told us they are very happy to have some routine/normality back…. and also to stop their kids from climbing the walls at home.
"We have had parents tell us that their preschoolers were asking daily when 'nastics' was back!
“The first session back was amazing! One of the best things was the gym being noisy again.
"We have gymnasts who have been lucky enough to train through lockdown due to elite exemption – but it just wasn’t the same in a quiet empty gym – so much better when its filled with the sounds of children enjoying themselves.”
A focus on positivity has kept Hawth Gymnastics strong through even the most difficult periods.
Simpson-Warner added: “Keeping children’s (and coaches’) interest and motivation up via Zoom became quite difficult by the time we were in our third lockdown!
"But our coaching team were amazing in finding seemingly infinite ways to keep everyone going. It was horrible at times – and I don’t think you will find anyone who would say otherwise!
"But that is how important gymnastics is to young people. Physical wellbeing goes without saying – getting them moving again.
"But for mental wellbeing, we felt that a huge amount of focus has been given to getting children back in school – which is of course important – but for so many children, especially those who are not traditionally academic, school is not their 'thing' and they needed their activities back!”
British Gymnastics clubs’ resilience has been called into action once again, as the return to sport has meant making some adjustments to keep everyone safe, and Hawth Gymnastics is no exception.
She said: “We have been following the Step Forward plan. It’s included a lot of changes, including to our entry and exit procedures.
"We have been working with the leisure centre that we work out of to figure out the best ways to move people through the centre – this took a few tried to get right but we got there!
"Parents have been great at keeping up and being patient with the changing procedures, and we are incredibly lucky to have lots of mats and soft play, plenty of opportunities for set ups that don’t require coach contact.”
British Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport in the UK, commended clubs’ resilience throughout the pandemic, and cannot wait to see gymnasts up and down the country return to the gym.
British Gymnastics interim chief executive, Alastair Marks, said: “I want to thank all clubs and coaches that have continued to stay positive throughout, encouraging their gymnasts to take part in online classes and get creative at home, as well as recognising the lengths that they have gone to in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, by taking on the advice and guidance within our Step Forward Plan.”
“We’re absolutely thrilled that many clubs are now able to return to indoor training, and that members, especially young gymnasts who’ve missed out on so much over multiple lockdowns, can now get back to enjoying the sport they love.”
For up-to-date advice and best practice, visit british-gymnastics.org.
To find out more about Hawth Gymnastics, visit hawthgymnastics.co.uk or follow them on their social channels.