THE ultra-competitiveness of gymnastics is not for everyone and that opinion has led to the opening of a new gym at South Windsor.
Gazette readers may recall the names Taylor and Kyle Ellison, who featured in the paper over the years because of their success at gymnastics.
Their dad Deon has opened the new gym at South Windsor, where he hopes to attract gymnasts and other kids and teenagers who are interested in more strenuous athletic pursuits, but in a place where there is no pressure to succeed.
Deon said he watched his children go through the ultra-competitive world of gymnastics as they grew up, and said while he was happy with their success, he did not like some of the things competitiveness drew out of people.
“Some kids don't want to be yelled at, or don't want to progress,” he said.
“Taylor’s achievements were incredible and I loved it, but it felt like no one really cared,” he said.
“Kyle never wanted to do the whole pointy toes thing, he wanted to do more freestyle things but there was nowhere for him to go.
“I grew up doing competitive water skiing and it was always a lot of fun for me and that is what I wanted for my kids, and I never felt we got that out of it.”
Ellison said once most children reached a certain point in gymnastics, they either had to decide to follow the elite pathway or give the sport away entirely, even if they enjoyed it but did not want to compete.
The head coach at the gym is 20-year-old Rylee Hardy, who said she had competed at the elite level of gymnastics for about eight years.
“I was quite successful but the competition side of it made me anxious and stressed and it just wasn't healthy,” she said.
Hardy said as a coach, she saw children as young as 10 worrying about what they were eating, and it really concerned her.
“The environment that is created by elite sports can give kids anxiety and stress that kids don't need,” she said.
“I had great coaches but even with really good coaches I still had anxiety about how big you are, what you eat and how you train.”
Deon added that he would not hesitate to recommend a talented member of the gym to an outfit that would give elite training.
“If someone shows a lot of talent and they are serious and want to compete, great, we'll push them onto a club that can cater for their needs,” he said.
Ellison said his gym would focus on newer forms of gymnastics that have emerged in recent years such as parkour, FreeG and ninja warrior.
“Kids, especially little boys, want to do more fun things like side-flips and parkour,” he said.