Tag Archives: gymnastics



“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

This one is so utterly bonkers it makes my heart sing.

We had a bit of a mission of a morning on Friday, getting the bus over to gymnastics which involves forty minutes of walking each way as well as the hour-long bus ride itself. Arthur did nap on the bus, but once we’d eventually made it home it was definitely time to chill and watch a movie.

Except, obviously, this was the position he wanted to adopt, just to get a bit of extra gymnastics practice in.

And he’s getting so tall!

But I’m trying not to think too much about that…

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

U is for upside down


I’ve raided the archives again this week. This photo of me doing a headstand in the garden pretty much sums up my early childhood: outdoors, and upside down. Whether it was hanging in trees, rolling head over heels or walking on my hands I was never happier than when things were the wrong way up.

I remember one morning in primary school when someone bet me that I couldn’t stand on my head for the whole of break. Never one to turn down a challenge, I promptly kicked my heels towards the sky. Everyone else got bored after a few minutes but I was seriously proud of myself when the bell went. That, and a little bit dizzy.

It’s something that’s never really left me. I got very into trampolining in my teens, drawn by the prospect of somersaulting through the air. I learnt to fly forwards, backwards, tucked, piked and straight, twisting and landing on my back and front and feet. It was pretty awesome.

As I bounced into my twenties I still somersaulted whenever I could, but I’d hit a (virtual) ceiling. I couldn’t really learn new skills without proper training, and there was too much else going on for that. So I branched out, finding a circus school and working on my tumbling.

It all petered out a bit as teaching and later pregnancy and motherhood took over my time and energy, but I’ve still found ways to get my fix. Last summer I persuaded Leigh to take me and Arthur to circus camp : we spent a week in the rain in deepest darkest Cornwall juggling and tumbling and hanging from the trapeze.

And I’m back to trampolining too. I couldn’t believe my luck when we moved to Torbay and I found somewhere that was not only prepared to let adults loose on the trampolines but also timed it so the babies could do a gym session too. Arthur’s moved up to the toddler class now, but I still get to turn the world on its head every Friday.

There’s a metaphor in all of this. Something about seeing things from different perspectives, not accepting the common viewpoint, wanting to shake things up until they’re topsy turvey from time to time, just to see what happens. It’s liberating, for the body and for the mind.

U is for upside down.


Joining in with The Alphabet Photography Project over at PODcast. 

G is for gymnastics


I loved gymnastics when I was a kid. From balancing on the beam and swinging on the bars to hanging upside down in trees and turning cartwheels on the beach. When I was fourteen I became drawn to trampolining – that sense of freedom multiplied by literally flying through the air. Then in my twenties I found a circus school in East London and took to tumbling. There was lots I had to re-learn, but somersaults and back flips were the perfect antidote to having to grow up.

When we moved down to Devon I was thrilled to discover that there was a gymnastics club in Torquay with classes for adults as well as children. My post-baby body hasn’t quite found the strength or agility to go back to tumbling yet, but it’s been brilliant to build up my trampoline skills again.

Arthur seems to be loving it too. He’s moving up this week from the baby group to be with the other toddlers, and is practising his forward rolls any chance he gets. He seems to get a real thrill from going head over heels – just like his mum.

I think gymnastics is a brilliant skill for kids to learn. It’s just an extension of playing, really – but it brings with it such self-awareness, focus and coordination. I think there’s something about pushing your body beyond its everyday range of movements and using your own body weight to build its strength that’s very empowering – and of course it helps keep you fit and healthy too.

So I hope Arthur continues to enjoy it, and I look forward to rekindling my own gymnastic ability too. I might never quite get back the level of skill I had when I was younger but that’s not going to stop me wanting to try!

Joining in with The Alphabet Photography Project over at PODcast.

Farewell Fun 4 Baby (and the flying duck)


Last week saw another major milestone for Arthur as we bid farewell to his baby gymnastics class: from this Friday he’ll be with the toddlers taking his skills to another level.

We’ve been going to Fun 4 Baby at Torbay Olympic Gymnastics Club since Arthur was only eight weeks old. I remember his first class well – it was the first group we’d been to together, and by the end he was so exhausted from all the excitement that he fell asleep.


In those early weeks, we focused a lot on getting him to enjoy tummy time. He hated it when we did it at home: would scream from the moment I put him on his front until I rescued him (usually about ten seconds later…). But at baby gym his coach, Mark, propped him up so he could look around, and gradually he got used to the idea.


Arthur loved the sensory area when he was tiny too: the different shaped mirrors that would distort the reflection of the baby he didn’t realise was him yet, and especially the mirror ball which mesmerised him with its sparkle of scattered light.


More than anything else though, Arthur loved the flying duck. A baby bouncer suspended from the rings to double as a swing, he would squeal with delight whenever we put him in it. Since his language and mobility skills have developed he’s toddled over himself, pointing and saying ‘Bird! Bird!’ and only ever reluctantly giving it up for someone else to have a go when his turn was over. The last few times he’s flown in the duck the difficulty of getting him out has been compounded by him being just too big! A sure sign that it’s time to move on…






We’ve really enjoyed baby gym – Arthur’s loved the freedom it’s given him as he’s grown and developed so much, and for me with a childhood spent doing gymnastics and trampolining it’s been great to be back in that environment again. Although there is a basic structure to the sessions, and some clear activities for the children to engage in, I’ve loved that it’s essentially been baby-led – so I’ve been able to watch Arthur grow in confidence and curiosity, branching out and trying new things, and often surprising himself (and me) with what he can do.

I think now though he’s definitely ready for the next level, where there will be more instructions, more challenging equipment and lots more skills to learn. He’s already practising his forward rolls which Mark started teaching him last week: several times I’ve found him in his cot in a downward dog position with his bottom in the air and head tucked under rocking gently and trying to work out how to turn himself over. So whilst it’s farewell to Fun 4 Baby I know there’s going to be lots more fun for both of us as the parent and toddler sessions help him learn and develop even more!

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