Students beam with pride
Since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, gymnastics have grown in popularity in Hong Kong.
An increasing number of parents are enrolling their children in classes to provide them with a well-rounded extra-curricular programme of activities.
'Gymnastic playgroups have become extremely popular over the past decade as they have been proven to show benefits in a child's holistic learning,' explains Janice Ho, assistant marketing manager at My Kiddy Gym (www.mykiddygym.com).
'Not only does the child gain physical skills, but more importantly they gain mental strength and confidence. Their desire to accept challenges and overcome them is also a great benefit that they can gain from gym classes.'
The gym offers courses for children aged six months to five years. Classes aim to build a child's physical skills in a fun and motivating environment. The overall programme focuses on developing a child's co-ordination, confidence, self-discipline and ability to focus on specific goals.
While age-appropriate skills are taught at all times, a gymnastics class may include forward rolls, backward rolls, swinging and hanging onto bars, cartwheels and handstands.
Walking on a balance beam and completing pullovers on bars may also be included.
The cost is HK$3,000 for a 12-week course. All parent-child classes run for 45 minutes and independent classes for 50 minutes. There is also a membership fee of HK$250. For safety reasons, Ho recommends parents do not try to coach children at home between classes. She says parents should just try to ensure their children have a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise by running around in a playground to keep fit.
'We often guide parents on how to emotionally prepare their children for the following week's class and future endeavours. We mainly advise parents to help their child to build self-confidence and independence,' Ho explains.
Parent-child classes are run by My Little Gym (www.mylittlegym.com/hongkong) for children as young as four months and independent classes for children up to 12.
'The physical activity in our classes is used as a conduit for our three-dimensional learning approach,' explains Walter Assang, programme manager of The Little Gym.
'We aim to develop children's physical skills such as balance and co-ordination, mental skills such as listening, concentration and decision-making, as well as skills for life such as sharing, working in a group and leadership.
'All these skills translate to being a well-adjusted, well-rounded superkid.'
Parent-child classes run for 45 minutes and include aerobics, elementary gymnastics skills, stretching, rhythm-based activities, stories, songs, group activities and ball-based activities.
Classes for children aged three to six run for 60 minutes and include elementary apparatus skills, tumbling and group games.
Children aged six to 12 years are divided into three skill-based classes - beginner, intermediate and advanced. Classes focus solely on developing gymnastics skills for tumbling, vaulting, bar and balance beam activities.
The cost is HK$240 per session and children can join at any time. There is a membership fee of HK$280.