Gymnastics teaches healthy, life lessons to young East Texas ath - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Gymnastics teaches healthy, life lessons to young East Texas athletes

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TYLER (KYTX) - Parents, you have so many quality choices when it comes to enrolling your children in sports to keep them active and healthy.  If your goal is to get them in a sport while they're young and stick with it, gymnastics starts as young as two.  In tonight's Fit City, the benefits of the sport and what it takes to be a gymnast. 

To answer the question, 'What does it take to be a gymnast," it truly depends on what type of gymnast your child wants to be. If your kids are interested in it for recreation, the commitment is smaller.  Now it takes tremendous dedication and skill to be a competitive gymnast, but the reality is not everyone will be an elite or olympic gymnast.  Whatever path they choose, gymnastic coaches tell me the healthy lessons young girls and boys are learning go well beyond the mat. 

She's jumping sky high and working on her flips now, but Macy Dai Parsley was just toddling around when she took her first gymnastics class at age 2.  "I have always liked it because it teaches you life lessons and it rolls over to school," says Macy Dai Parsley.

17 year old Savanna Maradiaga was inspired at 5 to give gymnastics a try.   "My older sister did gymnastics so it was an inspiration watching her flip and spin."

Savanna is a level 10 gymnast now with confidence and control to flip on this 4 inch wide beam, but she started like everyone else.  "I was just doing little somersaults and cartwheels and it was fun, but now we have to work real hard and be determined to get our routines down," Savanna.

Coaches at Texas East Gymnastics work with students on their coordination, flexibility and strength... They are introduced to bars, beam, floor and eventually vault.

"Gymnastics is a great sport because it involves your whole body. That's why we start classes at the age of 2. Research has shown, over and over again, how motor skills plays such a big part into a child's learning and their ability to learn and grasping concepts," says Marlynne Finch.

Marlynne Finch says gymnastics is exercise for your body and your brain.  It helped 11 year old Brooklynn Peterson come out of her shell.  "I used to be a really nervous person and it just relaxed me," says Brooklynn.

But she and her fellow team members at Texas East work incredibly hard.  "We do conditioning. We do a lot of push ups and pull ups. We do a lot of leg lifts and we do a lot of abs," says Brooklynn.

The highly competitive gymnasts workout twice a day, 5 to 6 hours, 6 days a week to perfect their routines.  Their years of tumbling, flipping and soaring on the bars have taught them an important life lesson as well.  You always have to put effort into it or you are never going to get the result you want," says Macy.  Which we can apply to any sport or activity we choose. 

Nutrition is another important component for gymnasts.  They eat a lot of lean protein and vegetables to fuel their bodies and sustain them through their workouts and competitions. 

As you saw, gymnasts use their own body weight a lot, studies indicate that helps gymnasts develop stronger bones as well.  As with any sport, parents, you may want to talk with the gymnastic coaches about their safety protocol and if it's a good fit for your child. 

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