Adult Gymnastics Training Camp
by Gina Paulhus
July 17-19 the first ever all-adult gymnastics training camp took place in Portsmouth, NH. The camp was born out of the idea that it would nice for adult gymnasts to have a judgement free zone to learn drills and technique while also having the opportunity to socialize outside of the gym. Plus, it’s a great excuse to take a trip to the Seacoast in the summer!
I had always thought about how fun it would be to go to an adult gymnastics camp, but I wasn’t aware of an all-adult camp, and I had heard of adult ‘weeks’ at some camps, but a week was a bit much for me. So upon the encouragement of some members of our adult gymnastics Facebook group ‘Just Like Fine Wine…Adult Gymnastics!’ I decided to start my own!
I am a 34-year-old AAU Ladies Level 8 adult gymnast. I am not a coach, but I enjoy helping out my teenage teammates in the gym, and also other adult gymnasts during open gym. I approached the owner of my club, Tony Retrosi, and he was more than willing to let me rent his gym for this event. I would be responsible for hiring coaches and structuring the camp, but he was available to help when I had questions, as he has run many camps and worked many of them over the years.
To promote camp, I of course told Jessica O’Beirne and at that point the whole gymternet was immediately informed ☺ But seriously, she promoted it on her podcast. I also had Rick McCharles from gymnasticscoaching.com promote it. I personally promoted it on my Facebook and twitter pages, and I really talked it up in our adult gymnastics Facebook group ‘Just Like Fine Wine…Adult Gymnastics.’ I started pushing during the winter, and made my first deadline May 17. I started with a pre-register form to gather interest, and after getting about 100 pre-registers I realized that I had more than enough interest. I asked for people to pay in full by May 17 (camp was $200, or $150 with three or more athletes from the same gym). I allowed entrants up until literally the last day since I did have the staff in place to accommodate them.
Our slogan was ‘Proud to Hang Around Bars All Night.’ Which didn’t exactly happen–because most of the athletes turned in early to keep up with the rigorous schedule of the training camp. There was 14 hours of gymnastics planned over a 48 hour period, and the athletes ranged in age from 23 to 61. Camp began Friday night and ended Sunday night.
The camp attracted gymnasts from the east coast of the US, the west coast, and everything in between, in addition to a couple of athletes from Canada and the UK. There were about 30 women and 10 men in attendance, although the focus of the camp was on the women’s artistic events. The men really impressed me since they seemed to work even harder on mastering the beam than the women! Haha.
The camp was able to accommodate the needs of the beginner gymnast all the way up through USAG/AAU/NAIGC competitive level 9. We listened to a variety of 90s music (a huge request!) but also some contemporary stuff to keep energy level high. Everyone was super-friendly and helpful to one another. Instant friendships were made at camp. Many gymnasts had a roommate (or 3!) which was fun. The hotel and restaurants were within walking distance from the gym, and there were also some folks with extra room in their cars to give anyone a ride that needed one.
Friday night after warm-ups we split into groups (the athletes were divided by level into 3 separate groups). These groups were called ‘Stone Age,’ ‘Paleolithic Age’ and ‘Ice Age.‘ Each group had a couple of men. Also some people came as a couple (boyfriend/girlfriend) and it just so happened that they all belonged in the group with their partner so that worked out. Everyone was full of excitement and eager to get on the equipment. Friday night we focused on physical preparation for warm-up purposes, floor basics, bar basics, and beam. We met for a quick dinner at Chipotle’s and a few ambitious campers hit up downtown Portsmouth.
Saturday included two training sessions. In addition to the four women’s artistic events, we offered a dance warmup, a men’s event warmup, and individual and group sessions with Dave Burchuk from Lighthouse Physical Therapy. There was an option for choreography critique as well. Sandwiched between the two trainings we had Mental Training and Nutrition for Gymnastics clinics by the pool. Clinic was great because discussion ensued which meant that the campers learned from one another as well. Everyone enjoyed a dinner out together Saturday night, and some even snuck in a trip for ice cream. Since New England is known for its lobster, people started putting a lot of effort into posing as a lobster for pictures. That sure generated some laughs!
Sunday started bright and early–8am. There was a rush at Starbucks that morning for sure! We had a morning training and then an afternoon training. Morning training included a conditioning option, which many of the adults were interested in. This impressed me since people were getting pretty sore by now! The presence of a TV camera filming for the NH Chronicle perked everyone up for the afternoon training. We also had an optional show in the afternoon where the groups presented what they had worked on at camp. We presented 12 awards, including an award for:
- Good Samaritan–For always looking out for the safety of other campers–Abbie Green of Cambridge MA
- Most Last Minute–for emailing me at 1am on Friday night asking if she could come to camp on Saturday morning–Jill Lacedonia of CT
- Best Dancer–for her spontaneous outburst of dancing to ‘Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy’–Traci from PA
- Gym Nerd—for his disturbing recount of fluff pieces shown in 1996—Stefane Tiki Victor from DC
After awards we hit up Wallis Sands Beach in Rye (cue the handstand pictures and more lobster imitations), and ended camp with a lovely seafood dinner up in Kittery.
A hearty Congratulations to all the friendly, hardworking athletes who came to our first camp. The athletes did a tremendous job pacing themselves and also listening and incorporating the corrections, tips and drills given by the staff. We used a white board to list the skills that were learned or improved at camp and it was an amazing accomplishment for this seasoned group of adult gymnasts. Camp was abuzz with discussions about ‘next year…’ which means that this camp will have to be an annual event!
The Adult Gymnastics Staff for 2015 were:
Lara Weed, Allison Brisson, Ryleigh Jean, Alexis Nault, Cori Cunningham, Andrea Pye, Gina Paulhus (all of Atlantic Gymnastics), Eileen Palazzolo (NHA coach), Bryan Paulhus (AAU coach) and Dave Burchuk (physical therapy).
Atlantic Gymnastics, Portsmouth NH
Our Mentor and Inspiration for camp:
Join our facebook group ‘Just Like Fine Wine…Adult Gymnastics’ for updates on future camps, or email gina @ homeexercisecoach.com and I’ll put you on the mailing list!