Most people are amazed when they see young girls and boys tumbling across a gym floor. If you aren’t familiar with gymnastics events, the athletes may look superhuman.
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Many older kids (12+) often wonder if it’s too old for them to start gymnastics classes. The answer everyone wants to hear is “no, it’s not too old”. People will tell you, “you can start gymnastics at any age”. And, guess what? It’s true!
In fact, even adults who develop an interest in gymnastics can start recreational classes. Yet, when deciding if you are too old to start classes, you have, to be honest about your expectations.
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Do you want to compete? Do you just want to get toned? Here, we will go over topics often discussed when someone is considering whether they want to begin gymnastics classes.
Do you want to compete? Recreational vs. Competitive Gymnastics
You may be sitting on your couch watching the Olympians tackle the balance beam and think to yourself, I want to do that someday.
Olympic gymnastics athletes start their careers early. Some may have even started tumbling as young as two years old. That’s impressive, right?
Now think about this, the average retirement of a professional female gymnast is 16 to 25. Male gymnasts usually peak a little later than women gymnasts, they retire somewhere between 17 and 25.
In all honesty, if you are older than 12, you may be too old to begin gymnastics classes, make a competitive team, and move up. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is improbable.
The reason it is hard for someone older than 12 to make a competition team and move up levels is due to the training and time needed to get to Elite status. Some girls start at four years of age and still won’t make it to Elite status.
Instead of joining a traditional competition team, someone older than 12 may want to join a recreational class. Some gyms may even have classes just for tweens and teens. If you are interested in tumbling, you may be able to find a tumbling only class too.
An older gymnast may want to consider a gym that has Xcel competition teams. The Xcel program lets girls that wouldn’t be able to compete in traditional gymnastics competitions to be able to compete.
Xcel programs have different rules than other programs and allow for adaptations that enable girls to do moves that are easier for them.
When is it too late to start gymnastics?
From the information above, you may think it’s too late to start gymnastics if you are older than 12. That’s not true! Anyone can start gymnastics at any age.
What we are trying to convey in the information above is that you probably won’t be an Olympian or get a scholarship if you start gymnastics over the age of 12. But that shouldn’t always be your goal anyway. Gymnastics has more to offer than most people realize.
There are many other reasons to take gymnastics classes. Gymnastics is one of the only sports that works the entire body. What this means is that you will get toned and improve your physicality by taking a gymnastics class.
Pole vaulters, cheerleaders, football players, and many others can enjoy the fitness that gymnastics offers at any age.
Don’t let your age discourage you from taking gymnastics class
The bottom line is you shouldn’t let your age discourage you from starting classes. Instead of worrying about whether you are too old for a program, it’s important to consider what your expectations are.
If someone wants to take recreational gymnastics classes at a local gym, they should go for it! Whether their 17 or 35, the class will help them become toned, more flexible, and feel good.
But, if your 16-year-old daughter wants to start classes for the first time, it’s important to talk about expectations. She probably won’t compete and may struggle with some of the most complicated movements. But, none of this is a reason not to start classes. Everyone can get something out of a gymnastics class!
How old were you or your child when they started gymnastics and do you think it was a good decision? Let us know in the comment!
If you want something bad enough, age is not a limit. Forget expectations. Expectations are just another way to discourage people who have dreams. I started gymnastics when I was 4. Competed and won at regionals at 5 years old. Coaches have always said I’m a natural. My coaches daughter, who did compete in the Olympics, wanted to take me under her wing and begin my career in gymnastics. But my dreams of competing in the Olympics were crushed when my dad forced me out if gymnastics. We had the money to continue, but he pulled me out of it anyway.
I moved to my mom’s when I was 12, started tumbling and then had to quit for awhile, on account of financial issues and bullies. People will discourage you because if it were them, they wouldn’t think they could accomplish the same dream you have. Because they don’t have the same passion or dedication as you. They only have their reality and their “expectations”. So don’t listen to negativity. Take what you want in life. No matter how old you are. Age can be a setback. But that only means you’ll have to work that much harder.
I’m almost 17 now. I’m trying to get back into it. Because its something I love. It’s not impossible to still make Olympics but at this point, it’s not my dream anymore. I’d rather serve my country, as a 68W (combat medic).
I would have gotten back into it sooner but I played soccer from 13-15 and got a bad ankle injury. couldn’t walk without a limp for 5 months. Now I’m in an online school. And I don’t have a soccer team.
I’ve been missing gymnastics for a while now. So I decided to swallow my fears of being too old to get back into it and just do It! Yes, I am far behind from other gymnasts. That only means I need to work that much more harder to get to where they are. It’s going to take hours upon hours of hard work along with blood sweat and tears into dedication and sacrifice. And being an online student has its perks of time management. I have more hours in a day.
So do what makes you happy.A man once said the sky was the limit…and then because of a certain competition between Russia and the US, we landed someone on the moon. No matter the expectations.
Expectations are never the same as reality.You’re the one who is in charge of your reality and you make your own expectations.
I wish you all the best!! Never give up! OK? Fight for your own reality that makes you happy. Don’t settle, negotiate with life and take what you want to make you happy!
I first want to thank you for your comment, my name is Cara and I am one of the blog writers for All Gymnasts (this blog).
Your comment was extremely inspiring and I want to apologize for the things you have been through. I am sorry you were pulled out of gymnastics even though you had such a passion for it, but it does not mean that was the end of your gymnastics career!
I have to agree with everything you stated: I don’t think people should worry about how old they are to want to do something…if you want to do something, go ahead and do it! We only live in this one life and why should we let other people have control on what we do? It kills me when people look back on regret for things that have not done but wanted to do. Everyone should live their life how they want to!
I am so happy to hear that you are getting back into gymnastics! I am very close to a Level 9 Gymnast that just started homeschool this year to work towards her dream of becoming an Elite Gymnast. I remember her telling me that going to school was hard for her in a way because she was practicing gymnastics for hours and hours, doing homework during lunch recess, and even had to go into school late or pulled out early just to make mandatory practices. She would tell me how other girls wouldn’t exactly include her because her passion was gymnastics and no one else understood her. She told me she was always shy and quiet but when she was practice she was always herself because her gymnastics team understood her. Gymnasts understand Gymnasts.
Gymnastics is a very hard sport that includes all the tears, sweat, and even blood! I believe that you are doing the right thing and I wish nothing but the best for you! You are definitely one motivational, courageous, unique individual- never let anyone stop YOU from what YOU want to do as well!
Hi my name is Sarah, and I am a 34 year old gymnast who competes at the college club level. I was a level 4 gymnast when I was 11, but I gave up gymnastics when I was 13 because of homelife issues.
I always wanted to get back into gymnastics, but the whole time I was in my 20’s I thought I was too old, and I thought that there weren’t any gyms that would allow me. It wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I really got afraid that I would never do gymnastics again, so as improbable as it sounded, I decided to get back into it. So, it took over a year to get my bridge with straight arms and straight legs, it took like 8 months to kick over, and it took about 3 years for me to do backwalkover again. I should also point out that I found a gym to take me in when I was 29 and help me with bar skills. The gym owner thought it was crazy but it watched me go from being 29 and 120 pounds to being 32 and being 100 pounds and doing back walkovers on the beam.
So fast forward to now, I’m 34, and I can do every skill I could do as a kid, and many many more. Since I go to college, I am able to compete at the NAIGC competitions. It is so awesome to do gymnastics at 34. Also, since I have worked so hard on my flexibility and keep my weight at 100 pounds, I can do the skills easily. My back is so flexible, and I can even touch my toes to my head again; which took a very long time to get back!
I just wanted to share this, hopefully it will inspire.
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I am 12 and I’m not sure if my parents would let me start gymnastics. They say I’m too old. I read these comments and it is very inspiring. I did gymnastics when I was 2 but my parents pulled me out because I was afraid of the bar. I’m not anymore but they won’t let me. They say that they don’t have enoug money. They are building a house and I have been asking since before. Like 3 years before. Which means I was 7 or 8. I want them to finally say yes and find a class. They have no idea how much I want to be a gymnast and be able to lose weight and fit in with my friends. They all do gymnastics. They are also skinny. I just want my parents to listen.