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Historic Gymnastic Celebration for Regent Gym

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Everyone is celebrating the incredible accomplishment of the British Team in the recent Olympics, winning a staggering 67 medals and within that the phenomenal achievement of the British Gymnastics team who won seven medals - 3 Bronze, 2 Silver and 2 Gold.  Cheering on the gymnasts was Regent Gym Club who have something of their own to celebrate this year with their 35th Anniversary.  I spoke with Julia Falle, owner and head coach, about the club's history, future plans and competing in today's arena.

Very exciting stuff at the Olympics - were you gripped?
Yes, definitely, it's fantastic to see British Gymnasts doing so well in the games.

And you have your own celebration coming up - tell me about the history of the club.
The club was started in 1981 by my dad, Arthur Falle and Ann Mourant.  They started the club because my sister, Mel, was involved in Gymnastics at another club on the island, which was very popular, and they could see there was an opportunity to start another club so more youngster could get involved. In the beginning the club was very small and only ran on a Tuesday and Saturday and had about 50 children to begin with.  Dad eventually ran the club with me and myself supporting by last year I took over the reins, although Dad is still there in the background.

Is it very different from now?
Yes, very.  We now run six days a week and have approximately 500!  We are entering more competitions than ever and hosting our own - it's extremely busy.

Why do you think the club has been so successful?
With Fort Regent being centrally located we are easy to get to and we also have a permanent base - that's really important.  We have always been a very ambitious club and we encourage all our gymnastics to reach their full potential with visits to the UK and further afield and also by inviting other gymnastic clubs here so we can all learn from each other.  We affiliated with Hampshire County which means we can compete in the Southern Region and from there into the Nationals and onwards.

But it's not all about winning medals, although that's great, it's also important to recognise that some children take part in gymnastics for fun, it's good for co-ordination, discipline, team work and fitness.  We run a show every Christmas, which all of the children participate in, and get to show off their skills - it's a wonderful event.

The club has a brilliant network of parent supporters whose contribution cannot be underestimated - their help is crucial to keeping the club running - we really couldn't do it without them.

I think another one of our pluses is we are always striving to improve. Gymnastics has definitely become more technical and the difficulty of skills required has increased dramatically, it's much more demanding.  Gymnasts have to be powerful, strong and flexible.  We offer specialist classes in strength and conditioning as well as trampolining, to improve all the abilities and confidence needed from tomorrow's gymnasts.

This year we also partnered with Sports Development to offer school holiday workshops - it's an excellent opportunity for those new to the sport and those with experience to learn new skills, meet other gymnasts and generally have fun.

I understand Regent Gymnastics has a dedicated Special Needs class, how did that come about?

We started the class about 18 months ago because we really wanted to give children who may not be able to participate in a mainstream class an opportunity to try it and just enjoy it with no pressure.  It has been one of my most rewarding experiences; you can see the children growing in confidence, learning the equipment and making progress.  It is open to any age, but mainly the children who come are aged from 5 to 12, and it's every Saturday from 2:30pm to 4:00pm.  I'd really encourage parents to pop along.

What would you say have been the challenges along the way?

Equipment!  Having somewhere to put it and the cost - we cover costs mainly from the club fees but we occasionally run fundraisers so we can ensure that our equipment is properly maintained and that our 20 coaches are professionally trained and continuing with their career development.

Of course once teenagers get to 15/16 we face another challenge, not only with the growing independence, but the need for them to spend more time studying for GSCEs and further education; it's a challenge for them to find the time because once you get to that stage training is 2-3 times a week plus the off island competitions to progress in the rankings.

How about the highlights?
So many it's difficult to narrow it down….

We did really well at the Island Games with all of the Gymnasts from Regent Gym winning a medal - that was an outstanding achievement.   Regent Gymnastics was the first gymnastics club to be awarded the Jersey Clubmark, which is an award scheme recognising high standards in sports clubs - we were very proud of that and our coaches were recently recognised in the UK.

Coming up we have one young lady, whose name I will keep quiet for now, who is close to qualifying for the Commonwealth Games - we all very excited so watch this space!

 

Regent Gym Club runs six days a week at Fort Regent from ages 5 upwards.  To find out more about the club, including how to register your child, visit the webpage http://www.regentgymnastics.co.uk/Home.php

Little Monkey's, Regent's sister club, offers gymnastics from walking to age 6 - http://www.regentgymnastics.co.uk/LittleMonkeys.php

Written by Colin Stanier at 09:00

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