Our awesome Trainee Coaches

You know we LOVE gymnastics and all related activites at Affinity but what we’re really doing here is coaching people to be the best they can be and enjoy what they do. From the gymnasts who overcome challenges and learn through gymnastics through to our staff. However, there’s a group in between these two that I’m not sure if you know much about but they are some of the MOST awesome people and one of the best things we do! (Best kept secret eh?)
I’m talking about our Coach in Training (CIT) Scheme.
We run our own in-house training scheme for young people aged 12yrs+ to help them develop leadership and coaching skills. We provide initial training in what leadership and coaching is all about - what it looks like, whats important and why. They are then buddy-ed up with one of our coaches and help assist them in running classes. 
These young people are developing some serious awesome. They are a real asset to the classes, coaches and gymnasts they assist and they are helping us shape the way Affinity develops. We love the input they bring. And in return of course they are getting excellent training and experiences - we love seeing them grow in confidence and discover the joy of coaching and sharing their knowledge with others. When they are 14, they can take their first external coaching qualification and start to lead small sections of classes, then progress to L1 when they are 16, then take on an apprenticeship in the sport and then who knows - take over the world! Cool huh? Yikes we had better get setting up more Affinity’s for these awesome ones to lead in future hey? But it doesn’t have to lead to working within gymnastics - the skills they are developing will stand them in good stead for whatever they want to achieve and we’re super proud to help be able to develop this.
We’re looking for our next CIT members to start in November 2019 - so if you are (or will be by October) 12yrs old I invite you to apply by emailing to hello@affinitygymnastics.co.uk the following (or if you are an Affinity/Sapphire existing member please do this via your loveadmin account):
  1. What excites you about becoming a leader?
  2. What would be your greatest challenge being a leader?
  3. What class/es could you volunteer with weekly? (parents please help with this! This can be with gym, cheer or trampoline.  Have a look at the timetable on our website here).
The closing date for applications is Monday 30th September 2019, so don't delay!

Looking forward to seeing you all spreading more awesome in the new term :-)
Why am I paying for August

Yes it’s a great question. We don’t run term time classes in August so why am I being charged for it?
Well, it’s to do with the way we’ve organised our monthly membership. We took all fees for the year (39 term time weeks), class fees, badge fees, club membership and rolled it all together into one simple monthly fee, by dividing this across 12 months.
Here’s what you are getting by paying in august:
  • Lower monthly payments as the annual fees are split over 12 months and not 11
  • Consistent billing all year round to aid household budgets
  • Your place in your class safe and secure and ready for September
  • All continued member benefits – including discounted holiday camp sessions. Eg. Our members price is £16.50 per session, non-members price is £22.50.  (You can find out more holiday class information here)

If you didn’t pay the August payment:
  • You’d have more classes than you’ve paid for across the year.
  • You would lose your class place.
  • We’d be out of pocket and we want to stay in business for you to be able to come to our classes!
We could have divided membership into 11 and not 12 payments. Maybe in future we might do this. But the reasons for going for 12 payments are:
  • We don’t charge more in the months where there are 5 classes rather than 4. Or less where there are 3. So by that logic lets keep all monthly payments the same all year round.
  • It means the monthly payment is lower than if we divide by 11.
  • You and us can budget better knowing that it’s the same amount every month.
I hope this sheds some light on how this works and why we’ve structured our membership the way we have.

p.s.  Don't forget that we have our 13th Birthday & Thank You party on Monday 26th August. Come along anytime between 10am and 1:00pm​ and have fun in the gym and eat some cake with us!  

Achievement - putting together the puzzle pieces

Have you ever seen someone take an impressive ‘big leap’ in achieving something? Perhaps a gymnast performing an amazing routine and winning a competition. A teen getting into an amazing university. Someone getting a big new job or opportunity. You might look at it and think Wow! Aren’t they amazing! Or lucky! Maybe you might even be a little jealous that it’s all happening for them. You might even feel a little bad about your own ‘slower’ progress.
But in reality its never actually one big leap. All these big achievements are a collection of loads of teeny tiny pieces that built up over time to eventually create a bigger picture  - it’s a lot like a jigsaw puzzle.
Each little piece of the puzzle is vital. Yet each piece looks so insignificant by itself, makes little sense and you could easily overlook it by itself! To start with, you tip out all the puzzle pieces and don’t know what you are looking for. It feels like a mountain to climb – why did I get the 5000 piece puzzle!! This will take forever!
But you make a start. You might have a strategy – perhaps find the corners or edge pieces first. Or group by colour so you can start to put a few pieces together. Gradually piece by piece things start to take shape and the picture gets clearer.
Eventually you are onto the final pieces and the finished picture reveals itself! Hurrah! Now each piece makes sense and is contributing to the overall image.
Progress in gymnastics happens in the exact same way.


Those edge and corner pieces? They are the pre-requisites of every skill. Like being able to do a bridge before you can backflip. Needing to be able to take your weight on your arms before you can cartwheel.
The pieces that start grouping together into colours or parts of the picture – each represents a physical or mental area of learning the skill. Like having flexibility for bridges, arm strength for handstands, or the mental determination to learn what your body needs to be doing.
Then there’s the important final pieces that join everything together – those are the little ‘tweaks’ that make all the difference. A little bit more arm strength, that final improvement in flexibility that makes a skill possible.  A final ‘oh I get it!’ understand mentally of what you need to do, the determination to try that one final time or that one little piece of feedback from the coach that makes it all come together.  Small…. But massively important.
It would be easy to underestimate each piece.  To look at a half finished puzzle and not recognise the progress and success that is already there.  What we need instead is to trust the process and celebrate all these little parts, knowing that under the guidance of awesome coaches and our own perseverance, the picture WILL reveal itself at the right time.
As we reach the end of term and look to displays and award ceremonies, its time to celebrate all these puzzle-piece achievements with our gymnasts. No matter what the current state of the puzzle – maybe its finished, maybe it’s still a work in progress – every little aspect is worth a celebration. And remember that of course no two puzzles are ever completed in exactly the same way.


Like the idea of how we teach skills and celebrate ALL the little wins?  Register for a class below
...But I cant EVEN cartwheel
But I can’t even cartwheel!
Something we hear a lot is:

"My child isn’t good at gymnastics. They can’t cartwheel yet".


"Ha! I’m no good at gymnastics. I can’t even do a cartwheel!"

It’s true that a cartwheel is one of the most universally recognised gymnastics skills. So it is natural to base some kind of progress on this skill.
But cut your child (or yourself!) some slack. It may be one of our ‘basic’ gymnastics skills but have you ever stopped to think about what a gymnast has to do, in order to do a successful cartwheel?
Lets take a look:
  • Go completely upside down and come back up again.
  • Make a rotation – we start forwards, turn sideways, then turn back again to stand up.
  • Travel forwards and sideways across the floor AND in a straight line.
  • Coordinate their arms and legs, in the right order AND in the correct positioning. Not just once, but you’ve four separate hand and foot placements to get right.
  • Have the strength and flexibility to kick their legs up in the air and -
  • Balance on their hands….
  • ….but not for long as you’ve got to shift the weight from one hand to the other then to the feet.
  • Oh and lets think about form too – we don’t just want the legs in the air do we, we want straight legs, straight body, pointed toes.
  • Land in your best ‘I just won the Olympics’ gymnast stretch.

And all of this with speed, all at the same time!!!
Phew I’m a bit overwhelmed just thinking about it.
Compare all these aspects to ‘basics’ in other sports – kicking a football, hitting a forehand in tennis, throwing a rugby ball, shooting a basket in netball, just simply running in athletics. It’s far more complicated and demanding physically.  Plus add in that a gymnast at the cartwheel learning level will likely be learning many new skills each session. They aren’t spending all their time learning this one skill, or even a handful – it’s literally 15-20 skills at a time across all the various gymnastic apparatus. Now this is a great aspect of gymnastics – we’re a foundation sport that can literally teach you everything you need to be able to perform any movement in life or in any other sport.
So is it fair of us to measure all our progress or expectations on if our gymnasts can cartwheel?
No. I don’t think it is. To measure progress we need to look at ALL aspects of our training, across all apparatus, both physically and mentally. Which is kind of tough to do, especially when we’re all different. We find the best way to determine progress is to ask your gymnast how they are finding class, is there anything they can do now in the whole of their class (or perform better) they couldn’t before and also, are they enjoying it. If both of those are positives… from my point of view that’s a win and lets keep learning.

You know what, some gymnasts will never be able to cartwheel like the pros..... and that's ok. 
PS If those pesky cartwheels are really proving tricky, I recommend booking in a 30min 121 lesson with us. There are literally a zillion ways we can teach cartwheels and no one is the same! Often the break through point often comes with some focused coaching and we’d love to provide it.

If interested in a 121 lesson - pop us an email to hello@affinitygymnastics.co.uk or have a look on our events page to see any upcoming 121 holiday class slots here.