Last night saw the first programme being broadcast on BBC of Tumble featuring celebrities who take part in gymnastics to win the votes of the public. Learning sessions were given on the basics of gymnastics to the celebrities taking part. It is backed by British Gymnastics. The trainers are the ones who trained Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle.
It is certainly great exposure for gymnastics, but will it attract people into the sport, I wonder?
One question I would like to ask is how many gymnastics club are really interested in attracting people aged beyond, say, 20? On my travels I have certainly seen not any clubs where they see adults as part of their target audience.
I have just been onto British Gymnastics’ club finder service and the nearest clubs to me, near Harrogate, which say they cater for adults, are located around one hour’s drive from here! I have just been looking at these websites and could not find any information about classes for adults. So the first step is to encourage gymnastics clubs to get away from this, somewhat myopic, focus on toddlers and young people.
The danger is that they miss out on development opportunities as people change their lifestyles and the clubs stay static. Some examples:
In Australia there is a gymnastics club called Gymaroos which caters for the 55+ age group. Have a look at their video on http://pesjc6.wix.com/gymarooseverybody#!video/c65q. I am running a conference on 4th November on Getting Older Physically Active which includes presentations on Walking Football and Walking Basketball for 50+ people.
I appreciate that there are not ‘proper clubs’ but they ‘living room gymnasts’ active. In Merthyr in Wales we are currently looking into whether the local, newly formed, trampoline club could move into a warehouse and combine the enterprise and income from running a trampoline park with developing a trampoline club.
A US craze called CrossFit has been embraced by the weightlifting bodies and this has made wrestling and their clubs more cool. Compare that to Five-a-side football which has been ignored by the various football bodies, so commercial businesses have benefitted from this trend and the income generated.
So, what can a gymnastics club do to attract living room gymnasts?
- Start Adult Tumbling classes. You’ve got a captive audience, the parents of your current members. Make it fun and social
- Start Adult Trampoline classes. Again, this is an activity that we all can do and it never ceases to amaze me how many times I have seen parents sitting watching their kids trampolining and tumbling.
Learn from this and start developing other adult classes.
I hope this helps – let me hear from you.