The Growth of Canadian Acrobatic and Aerobic Gymnastics

Up, Up and Away!

Although Acrobatic Gymnastics officially joined FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) in 1999, it has remained a relatively unknown discipline until recent years.

The popularity of Cirque du Soleil certainly helped pull the spotlight on to Acrobatic Gymnastics but the sport struggled to become more than just a circus act, until recently.

Outside of Canada, the sport has a great deal more recognition.  This is changing quickly, with more and more Canadian gyms introducing Competitive Acrobatic Programs and with its inclusion in the upcoming Jr. Olympics.

Acrobatic Gymnastics is the newest discipline of gymnastics to have a competitive program and, although relatively young, it is fast becoming a spectator favourite. Beautifully designed costumes, graceful choreography and incredible, high flying skills involving immense strength and flexibility make watching an Acrobatic competition akin to looking at fine art.

In recent years, Canadian teams have leapt on to the World Acrobatic scene.  2012 World Championships in Florida was the first time Canada sent a team to compete at the World level.  Skip ahead only 4 years to 2016 and we see Canada sending a huge team of 18 athletes to compete at the 2016 Acrobatic Gymnastics World Age Group Competition in Putian, China. All of the pairs and trios performed brilliant routines and for the first time in competitive Acrobatic history, Canada qualified 2 groups to finals. A women’s trio from Oakville (Tessa Chiricosta, Daniela Mendoza and Jenelle Coutinho) and a women’s pair form Calgary (Anastasia Sizov and Brenley Martin) made Canada proud when they competed successful, high ranking routines in finals. The two qualifying teams, one from Ontario and one from Alberta, also highlighted the fact that the sport is not isolated to just one region of Canadian.  It has grown quickly and now reaches clubs and athletes right across this great country.

The growth of the sport in Canada can’t be pinned to just one thing. The experience of performing as a team is limited in gymnastics but is essential in this discipline and provides the gymnasts the opportunity to make friends to last a lifetime. The chance to travel, perform high flying skills, wear beautiful costumes and dance to creative choreography also tempts young gymnasts to take a look at the sport, but it is safe to say that continued improvement in high level competitions by Canadian teams, is a major contributor to the growth of Acrobatic Gymnastics in Canada and certainly inspires many young gymnasts to take up the discipline.

Don’t forget to breathe!

Once just a fitness “craze”, Aerobic Gymnastics has graduated to competitive sport. It was welcomed into FIG over 30 years ago (in the mid 80’s) but has only just started to garner some recognition here in Canada.

The sport’s popularity may be the result of the many competition options it affords athletes. Gymnasts may perform routines as Individuals, Mixed Pairs, Trios, Groups of Six, and all of this with any combination of men or women.  It also appeals not just to athletes from the fitness arena but also to gymnasts and dancers alike.

Nonstop performances that include elements of balance, high flying jumps, dynamic and static strength, plus flexibility, along with upbeat, fun and exciting aerobic choreography make Aerobic Gymnastic competitions fun to do and fun to watch.  Athletes are judged on how they perform their difficult elements with artistic flair – and the crowd loves it!

Aerobic Gymnastics, although not yet an Olympic event, is another little known sport that Canada has had some success at, on the World Stage.  Increased opportunities to compete at, and be exposed to, competitions outside of Canada will help this sport grow.  Already there is a push to draw more attention to Aerobic Gymnastics here at home – In 2016, over 70 athletes from Ontario attended an Aerobic Gymnastics training camp and assessment, hosted by Perth Saltos’ Athletics.  Aerobic Gymnastic coaches from across the province as well as 4 Brevet judges assessed the athletes, conducted a workshop and gave valuable feedback. Events like this draw attention to the sport, excite the athletes and help them progress.

In 2016, Canada sent 30 athletes to compete at the International Aerobic Championships in Las Vegas and on May 28-29, 2017, Oakville Gymnastics Club will host the National Acrobatic Cup & Aerobics Invitational. This will afford the Aerobic gymnasts the opportunity to prepare for International Championships while showcasing their sport.  Much like Acrobatic Gymnastics, participation in high level competitions is a great way to show off the discipline and will contribute to the sport’s growth Internationally and here at home.

Article by Kim Hughes Nash

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