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6 Things to Expect On Your First Day at Gymnastics

Autumn is right around the corner here in the metro area and, like you, many parents are looking for fun activities to enroll their kids in for the upcoming school year. If gymnastics is your child’s preferred sport for the upcoming school year, you’re in for a treat today. We have a guest post submitted by our friend at Champions Gymnastics Academy on six things you should expect to see and experience on your first day at gymnastics. Take a look…


Things To Expect On Your First Day at Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a fun, dynamic sport that lets kids feed their dreams to let their inner circus performer, daredevil or Olympian shine. Pro Tips highlights 6 key things to know when beginning gymnastics.

How do they do that? Watching gymnasts hurl their bodies through the air while twisting and spinning, all the while under complete control, is an awe-inspiring thing. Being able to do it is another. While spunky students may, indeed, try to launch themselves in the air during that first class, the goal of the coach or instructor is to teach kids the fundamentals and have fun, so they will fall in love with the sport and therefore further develop their skills.

Don’t expect any Yurchenkos or full-in back-outs on day one. Use this guide to prepare your child, find out what to expect and pick up a few tips on making this a rewarding experience for all of you. Let’s get tumbling!

#1 Sights, Sounds, & Smells!

When you first walk into a gymnastics facility, it can be overwhelming and exciting. Something you may notice right away is a lot more equipment than when you watch a gymnastics competition on TV.  Do not be surprised to see mats shaped like over-sized building blocks — wedges, cylinders, bridges, rectangles — or even a “pit” filled with foam blocks.


The overall murmur of a gym filled with multiple classes taking place, punctuated by athletes punching off of beatboards, may feel like chaos. However, there is order to the rotations of gymnasts moving from event to event, activity to activity. If your child is easily overwhelmed, it may be helpful to have them watch a class or two before signing up to ensure they are excited about the opportunity and are able to deal with the environment.


Another thing you may notice is the somewhat “locker room” smell. Gymnasts at all levels work hard and a facility training athlete will often remind you of this the moment you enter.  Kids usually are not fazed, and for former gymnasts, that smell is the smell of “home.” So, whether you personally thrive on that aroma or not, just don’t be taken aback.


If the classes you have decided to enroll in take place at a community center or school gym, you may encounter a slightly different set up. For example, folding mats might replace a full floor exercise.

Equipment may need to be set up and broke down for each class or might be a bit sparser due to sharing the space with other activities. Generally, fewer classes take place simultaneously at any given time, and your class may be the only one happening in that window. This does not mean the instruction you receive will be better or worse than that of a dedicated gymnastics facility. The coach’s style and philosophy, how many students are enrolled and what works best for your own child’s temperament are what should drive your choice when you are just starting out.

#2 Down to the Basics

Much of an introductory-level class session will focus on developing strength and flexibility, as well as good listening skills. It will also help youngsters become comfortable with the gym equipment — and the often-discombobulating sensation of being upside down!

The types of skills taught can vary based on the age of the children in the class. For example, older students are able to understand complex instruction better than 2-4-year old’s. An experienced coach will tailor the instruction to the age group.

Generally, the class will start with a warm-up that often includes stretches and other exercises. Gymnastics for both men and women requires flexibility, and this is something that even elite competitors work on constantly. Many programs will make warm-ups a set routine so that eventually students can take turns leading the warm-up. After, the class typically moves on to instruction and practice.

You can expect skills such as rolls, handstands, bridges, cartwheels, as well as leaps and jumps, to be covered. If your child desperately wants to learn how to “flip,” let them know that the skills they are learning now are the foundation to build up to that skill. Before you can land a back tuck, you need to learn a backwards tuck roll. Before you go for an aerial, you must master the cartwheel. Each skill is a building block towards a more advanced skill. They should not try advanced skills on their own until their coach lets them know they are ready

#3 Come Prepared

This sounds a bit like stating the obvious, however coaches will tell you it is worth repeating: it starts with arriving on time. Being late may mean the athlete will not have had the time to warm up properly, not to mention the disruption to the other students when someone joins in late.

Bring your child to class clean, dressed and ready to participate.  Wear fitted clothes. Kids will be going upside down. You do not want them trying to hold their shirt down when they should be focused on their form and the safe execution of the skill at hand. For girls, a leotard and compression shorts are recommended. Avoid tights as the footing can be slippery. Leggings and footless tights are generally fine. For boys, a compression shirt or t-shirt which can tuck in and athletic shorts or compression shorts should work. Gymnasts may wear socks; if they find them slippery, they can be easily removed. At the beginner stage, special accessories such as grips or beam shoes are not necessary unless specifically directed by your coach.

  • No Jewelry

    If ears are newly pierced and earrings cannot be taken out, they must be low-profile studs. Rings, necklaces, bracelets (excluding medical) and dangling earrings should be left at home.

  • Pull Hair Back

    Since kids will be rolling, they may find a bun to be an obstacle on their head. Some kids prefer a braid so that on twisting moves their hair does not whip them in the face. Your child will quickly find what styles work best for them, but most kids will be fine with a simple pony tail or pig tails. The key is to keep it out of the face so it is not a distraction or something they need to swipe aside when they finish a skill. Elastic headbands can be another help here, so long as they have enough grip to not fly off when practicing.

  • Eat Long Before Class

    As stated before, kids will be going upside down. Upset tummies lead to a mess for the instructor, so ensure your child has had proper time to digest their meal before class starts.

  • Bring Water

    Even if the class is only 30-45 minutes, it sets a good habit for your child on the importance of hydration as an athlete.

  • Bathroom Before Class

    Finally, have them use the bathroom before class. Especially with the youngest students, when one kid has to go during class, suddenly they all need to go!

#4 On Spotting

Gymnastics is a sport that requires a great deal of hands-on help from the coach. And this is a literal hands-on. Spotting can range from nudging the gymnast to completely carrying the gymnast through the motion. Most of the time, in order to best support a child and be there in case they bobble or fall, the coach will guide the athlete at their midsection — sides, stomach, back and shoulders. The arms and legs are also spotted to help move a gymnast through a new skill. This not only helps the athlete feel the proper form and technique, it also helps provide a safer experience as new skills are being developed.

#5 What Parents Can Expect 

Many gymnastics facilities will have an area set aside for parents to hang out while class is in session. It is important to stay within these designated areas.

For some little ones, an audience is a big distraction. If they are constantly looking over to see if mom or dad are watching, instead of focusing on what the instructor is saying or what skills they are doing, you may want to consider using class time to run an errand or two.

At any age, avoid gesturing to the child to pay attention, or stepping in when the child is nervous about a skill. Well-meaning parents can quickly become a distraction for the coach, as well as the kids. If the coach does need your assistance, they will reach out and ask.

Generally, programs without viewing areas will offer specific days in the session to observe, typically the first, middle and final class. This way, parents can see progress and gymnasts can show-off what they have learned.

The rules and philosophies vary by gym, so ask questions if you are unsure of proper protocols.

#6 Be Prepared for Fun

Gymnastics should be fun from the beginning, filled with new friends and new experiences. And while there may be challenging moments as the gymnast progresses and the skills become more difficult, it’s hard to top that feeling when you learn — then master — something new!

Fair warning: the fun usually does not end at the gym. Many a parent has been dismayed to find the arm of a couch being used as a vault, the bed a perfect crash pad and walls filled with feet marks from “spotting” handstands. The whirling dervish of arms and legs going every which way is just a tell-tale sign that your son or daughter has fallen for gymnastics!

For more information on Champions Gymnastics’ incredible programs, camps, and classes, visit them online at cgakc.com or call (816) 360-9879. 


Gearing Up For Working Out: Affordable Ways To Stock Up And Save Big

Whether you’re working out daily or a few times a week, most of us struggle with stocking up on clothes and accessories for the gym that are comfortable and functional. Connie, from our iFamilyKC Mom Squad team, tackles the issue in this week’s Work It Wednesdays. Take a look…

Work It Wednesdays working out

Gearing Up For Working Out

Affordable Ways To Stock Up And Save Big

Alright all, I am a gym rat and I am proud of it.  But when I workout two and three times a day, that also means I change clothes at least that many times a day.  Since laundry is not my favorite chore, I needed to find some good workout gear that didn’t break my budget.  Here are some of my favorite options:


Scheels in Overland Park truly is a one stop shop for just about everything you could need for working out, spending time outdoors, or playing sports. And they have fudge (it’s all about balance, right?!). One of the best things, as a mom, about shopping there is that they’ve got activities (Ferris Wheel, mini bowling, indoor playground) for the kids so I can take my time picking out the right items to fit my workout needs.


Believe it or not, they have some great workout clothes!  And they are super budget friendly!  I’m talking workout leggings for $13 a pair and tanks for as little as $5.  I like their Danskin brand leggings, as well as the Avia leggings.  There are tons of fun prints and different fabrics to choose from.  They have recently started carrying workout tanks and shirts from Athletic Gear.  At just $4.96, and with tons of colors and fun sayings, you can’t go wrong.


Their C9 line of workout clothes are reasonably priced (more expensive than Walmart, but not insanely high) and the styles are constantly changing.  They offer sports bras in several different impact levels, along with leggings, shorts, capris and tops.  Their sports bras are some of my favorites.  They are comfortable while providing enough support for even my high impact workouts during the week.  Watch their ads for special sales or check the Cartwheel app.

Fitness Tee Co

This is my favorite find yet!  It’s a little company based out of Colorado and they make a ton of cute and fun workout tops.  They have two styles of tank tops, plus t shirts, all with fun sayings.  There are tons of colors to choose from.  They usually run weekly specials with tanks as low as $6.99.  They do make the shirts to order, so make sure to allow a couple weeks for your order to show up.  I usually order from these guys once a month or so.

Old Navy

I get texts from Old Navy, guys.  It’s a problem.  They have a great line of athletic gear as well.  I love the variety of fits and fabrics they offer in their leggings and capris.  They are always getting new prints and colors as well.  They have high waisted workout capris for those of us who feel the need to have more coverage, as well as some compression crops that make sure everything stays in place while you workout.  Make sure you try things on just to see what style you like best.  And again, Old Navy usually runs pretty frequent sales, so watch for those and stock up when they come around.

Academy Sports

I can almost always find a pair of shoes for $50 or under, depending on what brand I want, and I love their BCG line of clothing.  Prices are comparable to that of Target, and again, there is a ton of variety in the prints and colors they come out with.  They have tops, bras and capris that won’t break the budget.

I probably own more workout gear than one person should ever have, but I always make sure I keep it in my budget and that I find gear that will last.  In general, I never dry any of my workout tanks, just because they do tend to pill after being in the dryer. Oh, and I use a ton of the Downy Unstoppables and several other brands of laundry scent bead, just to help keep my workout gear fresh.

From iFamily to Yours,


Football Season Is Upon Us!

Happy Weekend, KC!

As we gear up to cheer on our favorite boys in RED THIS Sunday (GO CHIEFS!) – We wanted to share a fun post from one of our lovely Mom Squad team members, Brandi, where she talks about her L-O-V-E for the game. We know many of you love the team just as much as we do so we invite you to join in on the discussion here on the blog and on the iFamilyKC Facebook page and tell us what YOUR favorite thing about football season is!

Football Season

Football season is finally here!

If you are anything like me – then you are sooooo happy that it is!

What’s not to love about this season?! Friends, family, food, fall, and FOOTBALL. Even if you do not know how many points a touch-down brings or what 1st and 10 means, you HAVE to love this time of the year! Next to the holidays, it’s the second craziest time of year. Oh, and throw back-to-school in the mix – crazy, but I love it! I don’t love football because it impresses my husband; I have loved football since I was a kid when my cousins and I “scrimmaged” at our Grandparents house on Sunday and I learned that I can really throw a football. Then at 13 I fell in love with the spirit, success and glory of the Dallas Cowboys and I have followed and loved football ever since!

I have a football lovin’ husband, a 2 year old son. and a 10 year old step-daughter so football season to us consists of tailgating with my husband and friends at Arrowhead Stadium or watching football all day Sunday and Monday nights.

We made it through the toughest game of the season already…Chiefs pre-season. Not a tough game for the Chiefs (4-0 pre-season record! Woo Hoo!), but for us! We take the kids to a pre-season game every year and when Tristan was one, it was a piece of cake because he sat on my lap and I adored him in Chiefs gear. This year he is 2 and curious and climbing and by half-time Mommy and Tristan were walking the halls at Arrowhead, we bonded, and I still adored him in Chiefs gear.

When does the 2015 NFL Season start you ask? The 2015 NFL season kicked off on Thursday, September 10 when the Steelers visited the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.  The first full Sunday of NFL games  will take place on September 13 and our hometown Chiefs will play the Houston Texans (away game). GO CHIEFS!!!

Right now I am researching the newest game-day recipes and tailgating tips and am so looking forward to sharing them with you next time!

An avid Football fan, Brandi enjoys cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs in her spare time. In addition to her role as mother, wife, and friend, Brandi also spends her free time volunteering in the community. Look out for a link to Brandi’s personal blog in future posts!


Five Reasons to Send Your Child to Summer Camp

Submitted by
Dawn Cox, Guest Blogger

1 – Identity and individuality

At summer camp, your kiddo will not be “brother of” or “son of”, he’s going to be a camper.  He gets to make his own choices, from how much to eat all the way down to which activities he wants to participate in.  Summer camp is a great and safe environment for kids to start spreading those proverbial wings.


2 – New experiences

At Cub Creek Science Camp, campers get to interact with animals at our private zoo.  They can adopt an animal of their choosing for their stay and learn how to properly feed and take care of “their” animal.  Cub Creek has domestic and exotic animals and is licensed by the USDA.  A camper could adopt a sloth, a fox, a camel, a lemur, or yes, even a dog!


3 – Meeting new people

Campers come from all walks of life and all geographical locations.  Here at Cub Creek, we get international campers AND counselors.  It’s so much fun to hear the campers talking about the cultural differences.  We love knowing those kids will become pen-pals and likely remain friends for a long time.  Without the social expectations of school, campers are free to laugh and make friends easily.


4 – Unplug from technology

Technology is such an important part of our lives.  But it’s so important for our children to learn how to unplug and rediscover their own creativity and imagination.  Camp allows campers to engage with each other and their own emotions without the crutch of technology.


5 –   Learning valuable social skills

Coming to camp means campers have to learn not just sharing but cooperation and respect.  Kids have to share chores and compromise when they live in a cabin with each other.  Nothing says cooperation and compromise faster when having to share a bathroom with 8 other girls!


You can check out Cub Creek Science Camp at mosciencecamp.com.  We’re also on Facebook under “Cub Creek Science Camp”.


The Missouri Rhythm Basketball Ticket & Prize Pack Giveaway!

Kansas City sports enthusiasts needn’t look further than our own backyard in search of a professional basketball team to cheer on this season. Missouri Rhythm, part of the American Basketball Association (ABA), aspires to connect with metro area families through fun, entertaining basketball games, camps, and events. This Saturday, October 19th, at 7:00pm, Missouri Rhythm takes on the Disciples of Christ in an epic battle against Leukemia and Lymphoma. The game, which doubles as a fundraising event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, will be held at Okun Fieldhouse in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

Missouri Rhythm has graciously offered a prize package and tickets specifically for iFamilyKC readers and fans to help spread the word about their team and this great event. Want to get in on the action?

Your Grand Prize Package Includes:

  • 4 Tickets to the Missouri Rhythm vs. Disciples of Christ game on Saturday October 19th
  • A Missouri Rhythm T-Shirt
  • 2 Missouri Rhythm Wristbands
  • A Mini ABA Basketball

Your 2nd and 3rd Prize Package Includes (Each):

  • 2 Tickets to the Missouri Rhythm vs. Disciples of Christ game on Saturday October 19th

For more information about Missouri Rhythm basketball team, to see their schedule, or to check out their involvement in the community, visit them online at: http://www.missourirhythm.com or check them out on Facebook! Be sure to tell them that iFamilyKC sent you.

Want to get in on the ticket and prize package giveaway?! Simply SHARE this blog post with your friends on Facebook using #iFamilyKC in your public post so we know it’s you. You can also earn entries by adding a comment to this blog post telling us your favorite thing about Missouri Rhythm. Winners will be randomly drawn on Friday October 18th at 10:00am and announced both on the iFamilyKC blog and on our Facebook page. Good luck, everyone!

Kickball Leagues with Live2Play Sports!

I grew up under bleachers. I thought the scalpers in the Royal’s stadium parking lot were close family friends. I always had a ball in my hand.

I’m a CK (coach’s kid). Putting my life-long love of sports to work seemed like the only option when I graduated college. But I quickly discovered sports was not the joy for all kids that it was for me.

My father coached basketball for as long as my siblings or I can remember. We did our homework while he ran practices and watched from the sidelines during games. I noticed his face always shined with pure love for the game. He hated losing as much as the next coach, but he always reminded his team why they were there in the first place: for the game. When I started coaching and refereeing as an adult, I saw more competitiveness and negativity than real coaching and respect for the game. Unfortunately, parents yelling at kids for their performance was not an uncommon site after games. I saw coaches lose their tempers, displaying poor sportsmanship and players who then imitated this. I saw kids sitting on benches the whole game…during middle school games that weren’t riding on a state championship. And I saw kids without basic skill foundations who seemed to have forgotten why they started playing in the first place.

I started running adult leagues and as soon as he could ask, my son wanted to know when he could play. Like many young children, he loved chasing balls with glee and didn’t care that he could not catch the ball yet. He just loved PLAYING. Truth be told, I was worried about sending him to play competitive sports and seeing the joy leave his face from the experience. After saying “someday” to him too many times, I realized I was missing an opportunity.

I started Live2Play Sports to offer children of all ages the chance to build athletic skills in a non-competitive environment. No yelling parents, no arguments, everyone plays and the focus is on fun. The parent of a third-grade player told me this is the first chance her son has had to actually build his skills. He was never taught how to kick, pitch, or catch a ball. And because of this, he never got to play and so never got to build those skills. She’s amazed at how quickly he’s gained confidence in his physical skills playing on one of my kickball teams. Further, she’s thrilled to see how good he feels about himself from the experience. She’s since signed all of her kids up for youth kickball.

Come to one of our fields and you’ll see a very different experience from your usual youth sports leagues. There’s no “sides,” everyone cheers for everyone. Kids cooperate and help each other do better. We host nights for adults-only along with an end of season team celebration for the kids. It’s not the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. The focus is on giving every kid the opportunity to play, build their skills and confidence, and bring back the love of the game.

Check out www.Live2PlaySports.com