What’s it like to be a gymnastics mom? I’ve been sharing lots of pictures and stories of Katya’s gymnastics competitions on my Instagram lately, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my life as a gymnastics mom and the sport in general, so I wanted to share my experience with you and put all my resources and thoughts into one blog post.
WHEN DID SHE START?
I have two kids, Katya and Leonix, and they both do gymnastics, although Katya is much more serious about it. Katya was literally born to be a gymnast. People always ask me when she started, and I always laugh and say, in my belly! Even before she was born, Katya was really crazy and high energy, and when she was a baby she was even jumping before walking, which is totally rare (at least based on what our pediatrician said).
WHAT GYMNASTICS SCHOOL DO YOU GO TO?
Katya was always so energetic, so I started taking her to Mommy and Me gymnastics classes as early as I could, and when she was one, she was already going to all the gyms in Chicago. We went everywhere we could find for Mommy and Me classes, and then when she was old enough to really start taking classes, we chose two schools. For a while, she went to Lakeshore Academy and IK Gymnastics. We liked both, but we decided to stick with IK Gymnastics because we just really loved the school’s philosophy. They raise amazing gymnasts, I totally love their style, and they have a really amazing community of coaches and moms that I love. Not to mention, Katya was responding really well to their classes, and she just loved it. We also chose to stick with IK Gymnastics because they actually have their own academy there. So Katya could basically go to school there full time, and then have some extra practice at recess or in between classes. She’s not in this program now, but we’re seriously considering doing it in a year or two if she wants to really get serious with her training.
WHAT DOES SHE DO OUTSIDE OF CLASS?
I always felt like Katya never had enough classes, even when she was taking extra classes, so we make sure to have a space for her to practice outside of class. We have always had some gymnastics equipment at home. Even when we lived in a way smaller place, we always had a trampoline or a little bar. And now, after we moved into our new place, we actually have a whole gymnastics room right in the middle of our living space. Instead of each kid having their own room, we decided to have Katya and Leonix share a room so that we could have a gymnastics space. The nice thing about the gymnastics space, though, is that it’s not just Katya’s, it’s something for the whole family. Leonix does yoga there too and he likes to climb on the bar, and I can also do my yoga sessions and some of my exercise there. I love this, because it makes the room a nice space where all of the family can use it, and it encourages all of us to be healthy and keep our bodies active.
HOW DID SHE GET TO BE SO SERIOUS ABOUT HER TRAINING?
Moms always ask me how we got Katya to be so serious about her gymnastics training and what we did for that, but the truth is that we really didn’t do anything. We’ve never pushed it on her, and really haven’t done anything besides support what she loves to do the most. We saw from an early age that she was very gifted, and her coaches were saying so too, so we just wanted to support her as much as we could. We never push her to go to practice. She just loves it, and it’s very rarely that she doesn’t want to go. The few times that has happened I tell her, let’s just go, and we can always leave. But then once we get there and she starts practice, she always gets really excited about it and never wants to leave. Occasionally, Katya does yoga with me and we supplement her practices with a little yoga flow, but I never force it on her either, and make sure that we’re always supporting whatever she wants.
WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A GYMNASTICS MOM?
As a parent, it’s definitely a lot of work. I find myself being the driver for the majority of my day, because IK Gymnastics isn’t close to our home, but we believe it’s the best thing for Katya, so we drive her there four days a week. Each practice is around three and a half or four hours, so I always find things to do while she’s there, like getting some work done or running errands. It’s absolutely a worthwhile investment because it’s one of the hardest ones, but it’s one of the best, and Katya is always driven to work hard and do her best, no matter how many medals she gets.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT GYMNASTICS?
The best thing for me about gymnastics is the friends and the community that it gives Katya. My favorite thing is always seeing how well Katya works with her team. She’s constantly there encouraging all her teammates, which is beautiful to me, especially because this sport is so competitive. I also love the fact that gymnastics is gives her really great skills for life. If she can do so many practices of one routine over and over and over, I truly believe that she can do anything in life. It prepares them to be fighters and be able to achieve pretty much anything–the sky is the limit. And my specific daughter is so high energy, that this sport is exactly what she needs–the days she doesn’t have gymnastics I have to get really creative to keep her calm.
WHAT ARE COMPETITIONS LIKE?
I love the competitions because they bring the whole family together to root for Katya and celebrate her amazing achievements. They can be very tense, since the sport is so competitive, and these competitions are such big moments for her. I remember at one competition recently she was a little sick and she started off with her lowest scores. We were worried about her, but even with her lowest scores she managed to keep going and eventually took first place. She kept pushing through, and I thought that was amazing because when you get a low score it’s so easy to get discouraged, but she just kept working her absolute hardest. The competitions are really good for her to see how she’s doing, and finally see the reward for all her really hard work. And she’s had an amazing, amazing season this year, getting a medal in every single event in every competition. Her consistency is unbelievable, and I really think it’s because she loves to practice so much, and she’s so into it.
Katya’s gymnastics has been an amazing journey for her and for our whole family, and I just love the way it gives her all of that confidence and power. Seriously, it’s like she’s a superwoman! I hope I answered all your questions in this post, but feel free to ask me more, and to follow my instagram to see more updates and Katya’s future competition. Also, Katya has her own Youtube channel where she posts all her videos, routines and competitions, so follow her there!