We are the Champions! Reflections on being Club of the Year
It’s been two weeks since Affinity won the British Gymnastics Club of the Year award. In my last blog post we chatted about how mad the idea of us potentially winning this was.

Well we only went and won it, didn’t we!!

It’s an incredible achievement, to win the award but also to have got our club to this position. Those of you who were with us in spring 2014 may remember me sending out a letter outlining our vision and intention for the club as we looked for premises. In that I wrote: ‘My vision is to create the leading Gymnastics For All club in the county.’

A lofty dream some might say? Pretty mad? (barking mad maybe). At that point we were training 4 nights a week, about 16 hours in total at local Sheredes Primary School. 

I’d say winning Club of the Year can put a ‘tick’ next to that goal, wouldn’t you?

Wow. It’s still honestly not sunk in yet. Possibly as it’s really REALLY easy just to keep on going and *almost* forget about it. We won the award the weekend before term started. We literally came home from the ceremony and started the busiest time of the year for us. Autumn term brings new classes, new gymnasts, many gymnasts having moved classes and all the associated admin for a growing club. It’s an exciting time but it’s full on. It’s very easy to get caught up in what needs doing each day and not have time to appreciate what we’ve achieved. To be honest, the whole of the past year has been a little like that!

It’s all too easy to overlook achievements in the busy-ness of day to day life isn’t it? But thats not really fair on anyone. So I have taken a few moments over the past couple of weeks to take in whats around me and thats an incredible club and achievement. From my position as club leader i’ve really enjoyed seeing our enthusiastic, dedicated coaches (the dream team!) having fun with their classes and sharing their passion for gymnastics. Seeing new classes start; freestyle gymnastics classes for younger gymnasts - fab for boys, who might not otherwise be engaged by our core classes. New tumbling and acro classes. The return of GymFit and skills classes for adults. Welcoming new gymnasts and parents to the Affinity world. Along with all of our returning classes and gymnasts, all working together with fun and passion. Then there’s the planning of new exciting things to come (it doesn’t stop here!). All of this in a gym that looks a-ma-zing right now, following our mini refurb over the summer (new heating and air con and painting, oh yes). A gym that looks and feels unlike no other.

And it is like no other - we do things differently here and I’m proud of that. The club started nearly ten years ago now out of a need for not just gymnastics classes in East Herts but more so the need for better, higher quality experience for grass roots level gymnasts. We believe gymnastics is truly a ‘for all’ sport - there is something for everyone and more often than not its the individual we’re coaching first, then the gymnastics. It’s been ten years of breaking down boundaries to the sport for all levels and ages. Yes, you CAN. It is FOR YOU! Oh and the most important bit? it’s FUN!!!!

Now we’re not the only ones sharing this ethos. It’s spread far and wide and the BG award shows us this. It’s been an honour leading this change and really, to be honest, we’re only just getting started :-)
British Gymnastics Awards 2015
Something a little crazy is happening this weekend! For me as club leader of Affinity, it feels slightly mad that this opportunity has opened up yet also reassuringly real.

Affinity is on the shortlist for a national industry award - the British Gymnastics Club of the Year Award. We’re off to the glitzy ceremony tonight in Manchester. Frocks and heels at the ready!

On one hand, it feels a little crazy to think that our ‘little’ club could be on the shortlist for such a huge award. That our work has reached so far to be visible and recognised on a national stage. That our club could win that award?! Definitely feels a little crazy.

But then on the other hand, why is it so hard to believe? Isn’t this what we teach to our members everyday? Affinity was my dream, a dream that then became shared by many. Theres a lot of seemingly ‘impossible’ milestones that we have now achieved along the way, simply because we believed it was possible and set to work to achieve them. For me, this is the greatest learning we can share as a club with our members. To lead the way and show the young people we work with that they can believe in themselves and that anything is possible

I’m off to Manchester not by myself but with a group of the most amazing team (call them a dream team really) members I could wish for. Yup, it sounds cheesy. But they really are! You could not make this stuff up. Along with many many other skills and achievements; Denise is an international judge. Emma works with British Gymnastics on the National Gymnastics Advisory Panel. Sophie balances being a Mum with coaching and has always believed in me more than I believe in myself. Vicki has been coaching with us the longest and is a gifted school teacher as well as organiser and looks after us all (like bringing us all cold drinks in the heatwave, how thoughtful is that?).  And Litsa? She’s simply the best pre school coach in the county and well, she got me into coaching in the first place. Then there’s those members *on the bench* who can’t make it this weekend but are key members of our team - Lucy, whose range of skills and commitment to each and every class never ceases to impress me, Rachel, who has been improving her coaching skills on the other side of the pond all summer and Brenda who, lets face it, is THE BEST administrator IN THE WORLD. Yup, I’ll rave about them all but i’m not just saying it for us to sound good - they truly are amazing and they make Affinity what it is - along with all our gymnasts and ‘supporting cast’ of  parents/guardians, friends, family, local organisations etc etc.

I know the positive impact our club has on our community and the value of being involved. I know we have something special here and I’m honoured that the club we’ve created can keep moving forwards and lead the way for our members.

It’s not sounding quite so crazy now, is it? Wonder what else is possible…..