Bending But Not Breaking: The Part Of Gymnastics You Didn’t Know About


Jasmin Rossi, News Reporter

Do you know what gymnastics is? Yes? Well, think again. Do you really know what gymnastics is? Probably not, unless you’re a gymnast. So today, I’m going to bring you into my world, my life. When you think of gymnastics, you may picture gymnasts on balance beams and bars – but did you know that these routines only represent one of the seven types of gymnastics?  There are many, but the two most known are Artistic (beams, bars, floor, vault) and Rhythmic (ribbon, clubs, rope, hoop, ball, and freehand). I do Rhythmic. Although its popularity has significantly grown over the last few years, it’s still not very well known. Therefore, I’m going to bring you through the Rhythmic Gymnastics doors and tell you how it changed my life…

Rhythmic Gymnastics. It’s arguably the most beautiful sport in the world. But it’s also one of the most unknown and under- appreciated. Many say it’s nothing but a girly, frilly thing that involves makeup and glitter. They say it’s just dancing around with a ribbon and that it’s not a sport. And you know what? Anyone who says that, is mistaken.

Please, don’t think that. Rhythmic Gymnastics is an official Olympic event, not a little girly hobby. Yes, when a gymnast steps onto the stage they are in their glittery leotards and, yes, one of their routines will be with ribbons. But that’s what everyone sees- the final product. They don’t see the training and pain. They only see the leaps and turns perfected. The tears and bruises remain hidden. The duty of a Rhythmic Gymnast is to make their moves look effortless on the carpet.

A Rhythmic Gymnast has to leap, turn, contort and dance all while manipulating different types of apparatus and all to the beat of the music. It really isn’t easy at all and the sport is frustrating, you will fall, you will drop your apparatus, you will cry.

On top of being strong, a Rhythmic Gymnast must be extremely flexible. Feet must curve and point, legs must be hyper- straight, backs must contort so much that they literally fold in half. You are pushed down on, in over-splits, in between two chairs, it has to go beyond 180 degrees. But for some reason, people still roll their eyes when they hear about the sport.

I should know, I am a level 7 Rhythmic Gymnast. The levels go from 1 (beginner) through 10 (elite). I train everyday except Sundays for two and half to three hours. And on Saturday I train for four hours. I was on the French National Team while living in France and I’m now aiming for the Junior Olympic Team for Rhythmic Gymnastics. My biggest dream is to go to the Olympics, and win gold. I mean, you can do anything if you have a dream, right?

So, why do I bother? Why go through all of this if there’s zero guarantee for success, and everyone just labels Rhythmic Gymnasts as “ribbon dancers”?

Well, when I’m in my element, training or performing, everything else is irrelevant. Absorbed into the world of Rhythmic Gymnastics, it’s easy to forget that the sport that controls my life is just ribbons and rhinestones to everyone else. So this is where I will end, now it’s up to you to see what you will choose to see and to think of the sport and the hidden secrets, hopefully, in a new way. Think about it.