Adult Gymnastics: You’re never too old to start

Dominique Dawes
Weekend EditionMay 13, 2011

If someone would have told me when I was training for my Olympic gold over 15 years ago that adult gymnastics classes would become a fitness trend I would have simply laughed. As a teenager I remember watching the adults in gymnastics classes struggle to learn the basic skills of the sport.  I would even cringe when they'd jump on the trampoline with very little body control.  I always wondered why they signed up for such a risky sport. Shouldn't they be playing flag football, picking up a ball or hitting golf balls somewhere? Or was this just a way for a once competitive gymnast to relive their past?

I was confident that once my competitive days were over I would never step foot in a gym to do gymnastics again.  Those days of possibly crouching a beam and peeling off the bars was going to be safely planted in my past. Clearly not everyone feels the same way. Adults continue to sign up for gymnastics classes and they even love it. So I had to find out why they keep coming back for more. So what better place to check this out then the gym I spent many of my years training, Hill's Gymnastics in Gaithersburg, MD. Kelli Hill, my one and only head coach for all 18 years of my career, still actively coaches and owns this Olympic training center. Though she doesn't teach the adults, I felt comfortable to swing in and join a class for a day.

For years I have told parents that gymnastics is the perfect sport to build overall body strength, exceptional flexibility, coordination and even mental toughness for their kids. But now it was time to see how this same advice could apply to them as well. Could learning a cartwheel at 40-years-old, walking across a balance beam at 60-years-old or performing a competitive level vault after having triplets truly be a life-changing experience. I don't know but I was sure ready to find out.