Beginning Gymnastics For Adults

by Josh Hanagarne on August 30, 2010

gymnast on rings

by Logan Christopher

When gymnastics come up most people will think of one of two things: 1) Olympic gymnasts doing insane stunts that the average person can’t comprehend doing; 2)  little girls in leotards rolling around on the floor or doing splits. If you are an adult looking for an introduction to gymnastics, neither one of these options probably sounds too appealing.

As you can imagine there is a huge gap between the two. The problem is that when people think of only those two things it excludes the idea of how an average person can start doing gymnastics and see tremendous benefits from doing so.

My introduction to physical culture

Let me tell you a bit of my story as it’s instructive in nature. I got serious about physical training when I was about 18 or 19. By getting into bodyweight exercises and kettlebells it opened my up into the entire world of physical culture.

One day in my friend’s front yard I was challenged to do a handstand. I failed miserably as just about anyone will on their first attempt. But I was hooked.  I wanted to learn how to do this amazing feat of balance and control.

As I made progress in that endeavor I moved away and then back to my home town. Meanwhile this friend of mine had started attending an adult gymnastics class and starting telling me stories of back handsprings and other (to my mind) impossible tumbling stunts.

Again, I wanted to go. But the reality was that this class was primarily for former gymnasts. That I was not. So instead of just showing up and being humiliated I practiced on my own. I went to a local park and did the most basic gymnastic exercises I could do. This included cartwheels, round-offs, rolling forwards and backwards, bridging and handstands. That’s about it. Nothing that involved the hands and feet leaving the ground at the same time.

When I became decent enough at these things I went to the class. I wasn’t able to do much that first day. But I continued to go and overtime I was able to do the basics of tumbling including front and back handsprings, front and back flips and much more. It may have been slow progress at times, but it was progress.

I have no illusions of being able to compete at the Olympics. But instead of just saying that would be cool to be able to do a back flip, (a dream I’ve had since I was a child) I went out and built up to it. I can know do a back flip confidently and consistently on the ground.

Getting started with gymnastics

I get many questions from people seeking to do the same thing. How can they get started? Most places at least in the US have a gymnastics facility in the area. Go there and ask. While not every place has an adult class many do. (Its too bad that its not more popular but that’s the way it is.) If they don’t have a class maybe you can get private lessons, or just pay to use the facilities.

And if none of the above is an option you can get your start like I did outside in a local park. While you may not master high flying aerial moves, the basics of movement you get from basic tumbling will be of great benefit.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too tall, too old, too weak or anything else if it’s something you’d like to do. If you put in the work you too can become something of a gymnast. Once again, you likely won’t win medals, but you’ll be doing things all the naysayers can’t.

About the author:

Logan Christopher runs Lost Art of Hand Balancing, the only site dedicated to teaching everyday people hand balancing and acrobatic skills. Check it out to receive a Free 30 minute handstand video that’ll teach you the systematic approach to learning the handstand.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

cheryl platt December 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I am 52 year old occupational therapist with 2 yrs experience with yoga ( still in the beginners stage). I have a lot of joint pain and limited neck range due to advanced DJD of my neck. I am starting a pediatric thru adult clinic. I purchased yoga swings but can’t find instruction and do not have the muscle strength and symmetry it seems to require. I want to offer all ages a safe fun and creative alternative to yoga and standard exercise. I have thought of wall climbing, acrobatics, gymnastics etc. I am looking for equipment to provide the safety I need to offer such activities. The fear of injury stops all of us from trying new things. Even tumbling scares me a little because of my neck. I have 2 swing ropes that are 10′ apart that I am using for sensory intregration for pediatrics. They are securely attached and hold up to 500 lbs. Any ideas for air flip equipment that would not hurt or require strength of a healthy grown man to do? Something to instill confidence in others with no fear of getting hurt or falling? We all want to fly, spinn, flip and twirl. Our brain never tires of these movements and it is these movements that keep our equilibrium and balance intact. Our inner ear (vestibular system) ages like everthing else and causes fight or flight reactions, vertigo, tinnitis, falls and reduced judgement when walking and driving. It is often the reason we quit moving and soon die. Any ideas or combination of ideas and equipment to use for special needs to older adults????? Thanks and please send me your video info.

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Courtney June 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm

For the occupational Therapist, just a thought, Divers and some gymnasts use a belt mounted on ropes that go through pullies and mount that over a trampoline. There are a few different kinds, one lets you do flips and another lets you do flips and twists. Pullies reduce the strain on the trainer doing the “spotting”.

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Ana August 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

I’m 23 yr old female. While in high school i was probably 16 that’s when I learned to do my 1st split ….I did my first back hand spring by assent at the age of 17 nd now I am determinded to learn side aerials at age 23 nd I had a daughter 8 months ago..

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hi August 28, 2011 at 11:19 pm

sir i’m 18 yrs old plz tell me can i learn jimanstic in this age well i’m so thin .plz tell me

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riss September 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm

so i am 19 years old almost 20 and i have been wanting to do gymnastics for a while, but i am afraid i am to old now. i did gymnastics as a kid for 8 years and stopped about 6 years ago because of an injury and i am ready to do it again. is it possible to find a beginning adult gymnastics?

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Harley December 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

dude – I’m 28 and giving it a go! You can learn and do quite a bit when you’re 50 or 60 too, I’d imagine. There are some great books and resources out there including Logan’s. Just keep trying to improve your strength, flexibility and coordination. If you take it a step at a time and do something consistently, you’ll be building your ability throughout your life.

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Vanessa Garcia May 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I really would love to begin gymnastics, I am 19 & I have always admired what they do & how they work hard. I’d love to get more information on where to go to train, I live in the Inland Empire.

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Lyne May 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

Hey I’m 22 almost 23 and I use to do gymnastic when I was little and I stopped cause of injury and not a bad injury. I got scared of doing back flips or back hand spring.. There’s no gymnastic classes around where I’m from and I would love to do gymnastic again to get my body more flexible I’ve been stretching a lot but my flexibility is not improving at all. And I’m not sure if there’s any adult classes around Canada, Moncton or Canmore Alberta.
I wanna find way’s on my own to get more flexible so I could do the split’s and try to do back flip’s again. I also use to dance but my group just stopped showing up so now I don’t dance. Is there way I can learn back flip’s on my own? Or way’s to get myself flexible at home alone?

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Chelsey June 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

I am 17 years old and recently got really interested in gymnastics like the beam the uneven bars and the tumbling but I think I’m too old to start training? I live in southern Indiana if anyone knows a place I could go to train or if anyone would like to train with me? Please respond:) thanks.

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Quina June 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Im 25 years old, an I always wanted to talk up gymnastics classes but I always thought I was too old…if anyone would like to train me or tell me where the classes. I would really appreciate…thanks!!!!

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Miname July 23, 2012 at 9:48 am

The content on the article is fine. The title of your website is utterly priceless. Best title I’ve seen in years. Hilarious. But now you have to fix your grammatical and spelling errors as this does not fit with the Librarian title. Any decent spell and grammar checker in a word processor should find almost all of them. Don’t let presentation detract from content! Your content is worth it.

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Josh Hanagarne July 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

Miname, I didn’t write this post, a friend did. If you’d like to point me to the errors, I’d be happy to fix any I haven’t found on my own. Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.

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Josh Hanagarne July 23, 2012 at 10:06 am

Also, I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I know some librarians who are dreadful writer!

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