National flags hang from the ceiling of a gymnasium in a local town signifying the international and universal appeal of the sport of gymnastics. My kids take gymnastics at this gym, and as I watch the kids tumble, jump, climb and occasionally wave at me through the glass with big, proud smiles, I'm filled with admiration and respect for the sport. Not only does gymnastics provide a form of exercise, but with every tumble, somersault and cart wheel it helps build confidence and self-esteem.
As parents, we anticipate and sometimes anxiously wait for our babies and kids to achieve their physical milestones. Don't we all generally start rolling over before 6 months, sit up and crawl shortly thereafter and start walking around 12-18 months? And as we grow, add to that progression the tumble, somersault and cart wheel. The 2010 documentary movie, Babies, highlights the fact that no matter where you are born, whether in a state-of-the-art hospital facility or in a rural clinic with just the basic resources, we all enter the world and develop in the same way. Similarly, elementary school children the world over are learning basic tumbling and gymnastics skills as the next set of physical milestones.
From somersaults to gold medal routines at the Olympics, gymnastics has universal appeal. Its approach is quite simple and doesn't require a lot of expensive gear, and yet is one of the most challenging and demanding sports. Gymnastics is a real test of not only athleticism, but hard work, dedication and mental steadfastness.
The local gymnasium is adorned with a collection of national flags hanging from the ceiling with an array of colors, patterns and symbols of historical, religious, geographic and political significance. They are all different, and yet down on the floor on the tumbling mats, as far as gymnastics is concerned, the kids are all the same. It's no wonder why gymnastics has such universal appeal.
The kids continue to tumble, jump and swing in their sparkly, colorful leotards or ninja warrior outfits which undoubtedly give them more than a confident spring in their step. And with parents, grandparents and caregivers in the viewing galleries, the kids turn to give a little smile or wave, giving them that little boost that makes them run a little faster, try a little harder, reach a little higher.