My First Day

I often find it hard to recall moments from my childhood; the first time I rode a bike, the first time I went on holidays, but I can always remember my first day at gymnastics.

I had spent the summer in between school term telling my parents that I wanted to take up football, tennis, camogie (an Irish womens sport) and all kinds of other different sports. At this stage, I had been in swimming classes for quite some time and was doing very well. In July, I attended my schools annual “Summer Fun Camp” and loved the gymnastics module each day – leaping over theings, jumping around, making my body do different shapes and hanging from the monkey bars, well – like a monkey!

My Mum came to collect me one day and on the way home in the car, she told me that a lady had called from the local gymnastics club; my name had been on the waiting list for quite sometime and she would like to offer me a place when the new term began after the summer. As you can imagine, I was so excited and spent the remaining school holidays practicing my cartwheels and swinging on the metal frame of our swings in the back garden. I’m sure the sight of me swinging upside down over the concrete patio almost gave my mother an aneurysm.

524518734_893fadb707_mAt 9.50am, Mum and I arrived at the sports hall where the gym used to be. I tried my best to peek through the small glass windows of the gym doors, even though I was to small to see over the door frame. I was nervous but excited. At 10am, I joined the group as part of the new gymnasts or “the babies” as we seem to call them these days. A lady introduced herself to us as “the Boss” and instructed us to find a space on the floor mats to do something called a warm up. We followed our instructor and ran around for a few minutes, circing arms, doing some jumping and various exercises to get warm. We then got a rest by sitting down and doing some stretches. There were various coaches walking around and helping us get into the correct positions or trying to comfort the gymnasts who were upset that they were seperated from their parents.

I don’t remember talking to any other children that day, not because I was nervous or shy but because I just wanted to play on all of these new pieces of equipment that I had seen on television at the Olympics. Another new girl who lived near to me, was meant to start that day but she didn’t turn up. She Joined 2 weeks later and we trained together since that day, even now 16 years on we are both members of the coaching staff in the same club.

It was a short recreation class, only an hour long. It flew by. We were introduced to the basic moves on floor;  different shapes like back lying, bridge, splits, dish, arch and onto forward rolls. We also worked on “beam”  – learning how to walk on a small width. At the time, our club only had a couple of benches and I vividly remember the Tuesday evening that our first beam arrived – very exciting! I remember finding it annoying having to wait for a go because there were so many of us. It was a short clss but I really enjoyed it.


At 11am, my Mum came to collect me. My coach asked me to wait while she spoke to her, I immediately though “Uh oh” – I didn’t think I had done anything bad! As they spoke, I sat on the benches watching the girls in their brightly coloured leotards doing their warm up.  They seemed to look so much better than everybody in my class. Their warm up included exercises that ours hadn’t. I thought that they were all “so cool. As it turns out, in that one short hour, the coaches saw that I had potential to be a good competitive gymnast. They wanted me to move up to the class I was watching, the “Competition Class” and train longer hours at a more intense level. I think my parents were very glad to be paying the extra money as the extra training hours and intensity was almost certain to burn off my excess energy!

As I said, I don’t recall many memories of my childhood but most of them relate to two of my favourite things, gymnastics and animals! There are other times from gymnastics that I remember very clearly such as the  day I wore my first brand new leotard (a lovely black and red lycra number) or the day I first did a back flip by myself. They’re really great memories to have and I don’t think I’ll ever forget them, I certainly don’t want to.

I’d love to hear what memories you have of gymnastics that you will never forget. Please feel free to leave a comment below!


  1. My first entanglement with gymnastics happened when I was 6 years old, we were doing (basic) Gymnastic stuff in school, a couple of rolls, flips for those who could do them, and some equipment, nothing like the proper equipment, there were no bars or rings, but I remember things similar to a vault, and what I can only assume was a very wide and shorter beam aswell as the standard beam. I’ve always had good balance(started walking when I was 8 months old) and was having fun on the regular beam and other pieces of equipment. When I was picked up that afternoon from school my Gym teacher spoke to my Mother and suggested I should try Gymnastics training…
    There was a full-time gym about 20 minutes away from us, and that’s where it all started, it was so much fun, I had to go on my own the first time, I guess in retrospect it was a ‘see what he can do’ sort of thing, and I got straight into training, I loved every minute of it.

  2. Gym coach says:

    how cool that you can remember your first day!

  3. Admin says:

    Flips?? In school? Wow!! Alan, I’m guessing you mean a “box” or the original vault? we use them a lot in Irish schools for PE. That’s fantastic though, great to be noticed during your first class! 🙂

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