By: Kathleen Guo
I myself am a level 9 rhythmic gymnast, so I’ve been at it for a while, and it’s been quite the roller coaster ride. Rhythmic Gymnastics is a beautiful sport. Perhaps, I should explain what it is in the first place. Usually when I tell people I’m a rhythmic gymnast, the first thing they say is, “oh cool! Wait, is it that the sport where there’s those twirly things and like balls?” Yes, it’s that sport! This sport requires, passion, flexibility, endurance, artistry, and hand eye coordination as well. There’s also a very long and dull book of rules. Although it may be a beautiful sport when looked upon from the outside, rhythmic gymnastics hold many pains as well that are required to output a beautiful routine. But hey, no pain no gain am I right?
Stretching is probably one of the most painful aspects of rhythmic gymnastics, literally. In order to complete the elements of rhythmic gymnastics, we have to be rather flexible. For the splits, we do something called over splits. This is when you stretch so that the angle formed by your legs is over 180 degrees (the angle of a split on the ground). Giving “oversplits” a quick google will provide you with many pictures! We usually do each side’s split like this for about 2 minutes. Afterwards, we have to stretch our backs as well. For this, we hold a bridge, do chest rolls (putting your feet over your head while on your chest), and try to touch our head to our butt. Despite all the pain, its definitely worth it!
2) Practice itself
Practices are long and high energy. They are usually 2-4 hours depending on the day. We fit a lot of things into one practice. Typically, a practice includes, warm up, stretching, body difficulties (balances, turns, jumps), apparatus difficulties, apparatus risks, routines, conditioning, and lastly cool down. This would be a very lengthy article if I were to explain what each of those meant. Basically, we have to practice every single movement in our routine until it is solid, and this does take a lot of patience and practice, practice, practice! Rhythmic practice is always a good time to exercise and test my mental strength, and not just my physical strength and endurance.
Competitions are chaotic, and they typically always run late. I once had a competition that was supposed to start at 6pm (and we didn’t know it was delayed so we got there at 6), but ended up starting at 8pm, from being delayed 2 hours for who knows what reason. So basically, my competition finished at around midnight. But it was well worth it, I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful and supportive coach! The most challenging part of rhythmic gymnastics is allotting out your energy so that you not using it all at once since you have 4 routines total that are usually competed over a 3-hour time span. Over practicing is something that’s really easy to do at competitions as well. Sometimes, the easiest mistakes I make during practice right before I go on the floor to compete, knocks my concentration and confidence out the window.
4) Getting apparatus stuck
This pain is the biggest pain of them all. Recently, I got my ball stuck 25 feet in the air on top of a gym light. It took the gym about a week to actually get it down and give it back to me. I’m actually not quite sure how they managed to get it down, but it was very dusty when I got it back to the point where the gold glitter was barely visible. There was another time where I got my ball stuck in the heating vent too. In that case, they had to get a giant ladder and have someone climb all the way up there to retrieve it for me. There’s also been many instances where my ball had rolled under a dark, dusty, and long trampoline. Crawling under that to get my ball is truly gross. My ribbon also constantly gets hooked on the gym ceilings, and at this point, I’ve stopped counting the amount of times I’ve had to pull it down. I’ve got my hoop stuck on a giant ceiling fan too, and had it swing around a few times. Explaining how I got that down would be like explaining the quadratic formula to a 2-year-old. To be honest, it’s hilarious how I manage to get things stuck in the weirdest ways, although humorous, it takes away a large chunk of my practice.
So, there you have it folks, four major pains of rhythmic gymnastics! No matter how painful, rhythmic gymnastics will always be a sport that I love.