Kids flip over acrobatic gymnastics
If you’ve never heard of acrobatic gymnastics, don’t be surprised. The sport, which combines tumbling, gymnastics and choreography, is not well-known in Quebec. In fact, there is only one club in the province that is recognized by the Quebec Gymnastics Federation. Located on Notre Dame de l’Ile Perrot, the club is called Les Gymnastes de l’Île, and head coaches Andrzej Cichalewski and his wife, Eva Rucka, offer classes for children ages 4 and up.
Acrobatic gymnastics (often referred to as acrobatics or acro sports) doesn’t include work on the balance beam, bars or vault. Instead, all the moves are done on the floor in groups of two, three or four, which include both older and younger gymnasts. Routines include dynamic movements like flips, twists and tumbling along with balance movements (handstands or human pyramids).
“It is a very theatrical sport and anyone who wants to be a dancer or gymnast can learn the choreography,” says Rucka, adding that the sport can be taken up by kids of various ages and sizes. Unlike traditional gymnastics, where petite girls tend to stand out, acrobatic gymnastics actually needs older, taller, stronger participants. For example, two 15-year-old girls might be teamed up with a 6-year-old girl and have to throw her up in the air and catch her.
Nadia Arand, whose 12-year-old daughter Katie has been enrolled in the club for several years, says acrobatic gymnastics teaches several life skills. “They learn about teamwork, to trust each other and they mentor one another,” she notes, adding that her daughter is now able to coach some of the younger participants.
The club offers both recreational and competitive level classes (there are competitions for kids 11 and up in tumbling, trampoline and double-mini trampoline.) Last year, gymnasts from the club won 54 medals in various regional, provincial and national level competitions in trampoline and double mini-trampoline. And last fall, the club helped make history when they sent the first-ever acrobatic trio to represent Canada at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Sixteen-year-old Victoria Cichalewska was part of the trio along with 16-year-old Marie-Jasmine Rainville and 13-year-old Sabrina Beaulieu.
For more information about Les Gymnastes de l’Île, call (514) 425-0803.
Other gymnastics clubs
Club de Gymnastique Artistique Gadbois
Montreal • (514) 872-3043
Montreal • (514) 872-1536
Île-Bizard • (514) 624-1546
Pierrefonds Dynamics Gymnastics Club
Pierrefonds • (514) 942-1551
Dorval/Pointe Claire • (514) 683-0602