The Affinity Team Update

We're so lucky to have such an amazing Affinity Team.  But we're always looking for great new people to join our team, so we can continue to offer you as many choices of classes as we can. 

So what's been happening with TeamAffinity this month?




Thank you to all the applicants for our recent positions, particularly the overwhelming response to our part-time administrator role.  We were completely blown away by the amazing people that applied to work with us.

We hope we'll be able to announce soon, who'll be joining our team!

We're still recruiting for the following positions....

The Affinity story part two 2007-8
#AffinityTurns10 10 events for 10 years: 
The Affinity Story part 2 - Year 2 2007-2008.

This week it’s our official 10 year anniversary of classes starting (our first classes were held on 18th September 2006) so our 2nd #AffinityTurns10 ‘event’ is a week long birthday party at our classes so everyone can celebrate with us. We’ll be playing party games in class, decorating the gym and we have some special ‘party favours’ for our gymnasts. Plus we’d love it if you’d bring us a birthday card!
This brings us to part two of the Affinity Story - our second year in 2007-2008.
So it’s fair to say that gymnastics at Sheredes Primary was a success in the first year. In fact in some ways a victim of it’s own success, in that the administration and organisation of the club had become too much for the school to manage. The decision was made for the club to become it’s own organisation and manage the membership, take payments etc itself. This meant becoming a British Gymnastics registered club under the name of ‘Sheredes Gymnastics.’ We took the name of our venue as many sports club do. (Plus have you ever tried to name an organisation? It’s incredibly difficult! We’ll tell you the challenging story of our name change in 2012 in due course).

With this came opportunity for more areas of gymnastics than just primary age classes. Gymnasts could now attend our classes from other schools. We added weekend pre-school classes and started our first competition squad who trained twice a week. We took on a second coach - Vicki, who helped one night a week. We had around 50 members during this year.

Our first competition squad team picture - on the day they got their club leotards!

We entered our first competition early in 2008 - the Hertfordshire Grades. Again we performed at the Sheredes Primary open evening and also the school fete. Always wanting to do things well from the outset, both and out of the gym, we were one of the first 400 clubs to gain the ‘gymmark’ gold standard accreditation from British Gymnastics. We were honoured  to have the regional coordinator visit us for a display and to award a plaque - and we were featured in the local paper!

Our first competition in 2008. We all passed our grades!                          Our GymMark plaque being awarded in July 2008

So all in all, a year of great change and excitement. Now onto year three in 2008-9……
The Affinity Story part 1 Where it all started in 2006 to 2007

10 events for 10 years #AffinityTurns10


To celebrate our 10 year anniversary, we decided it should be big. So big in fact, it won’t fit in one event, so we’ll be holding 10 events to celebrate our 10 years of gymnastics. This brings us to telling the Affinity story, again in 10 parts! (Can you see a theme here?). In this post, club leader Jennifer Page shares the start of the Affinity story and what happened during our first year in the 2006/7 academic year.

The start of the Affinity story starts with my own gymnastics story.
I started gymnastics when I was 7 years old. I'd moved up to junior school and this meant I could attend a lunchtime gymnastics club at primary school. All my friends went, it was the activity to do.
Well, as it turned out, I was pretty good at it and the teachers at my school advised I found a local club to go to. I went to some recreational sessions at the then named Barnwell Gymnastics club in Stevenage (later to change to their current name of Marriotts when they moved to purpose built premises in 2002). After a term or so of classes they asked me to join their squad sessions and train more hours, so here my competitive gymnastics story began. 
To cut a long story short, I went on to compete at club, county and regional level at women's artistic gymnastics. I trained 2-3 times a week, total training time of between 6-9 hours a week across my career. I'd compete 3-4 times a year for the next 10 years. It became me, or maybe I became it. I'm not sure. What I do know is that gymnastics became a huge  passion and part of my identity.
Fast forward to 2006 and I had completed university and was considering what to do next. I wanted to be involved in gymnastics but it found it was becoming a different sport. 
Gymnastics had moved on a great deal since I trained as a child and teen in the 90's. My 6-9 hours of let's face it, fairly relaxed, training with part time, volunteer coaches (albeit skilled and extremely dedicated) on a few bits of mats put out in a school or sports hall just wouldn't cut it now. The sport had broadened dramatically (which is great news) and developed and the elite competitive end of the sport was way out of reach for the majority. Even for the super talented, it's a tough job. The same medals and trophies I won back then now go to gymnasts training 12-15 hours a week at least, often much more, in a very planned and pressured environment, with full time super trained coaches, in purpose built fantastic facilities. Oh and they likely started at age 3. It's a world away. I’m not saying that any of this is bad, I’m saying this is radically different to how it was.
What I became brutally aware of in 2006 was that my level of talent just wouldn’t cut it these days. If my 7 yr old self walked into an artistic gymnastic club at that point, I'd very likely be shown the door. I wouldn’t have been offered the opportunities I had within our sport. 
That got me thinking. What if I'd never been a gymnast?
I'd have missed out on the training and ability to improve and develop my skills, as a gymnast and as a person. I'd never had gotten good. In fact I'd never had known I could be good at something. To aspire to a goal, plan and work towards it. To achieve and be recognised for it. To believe in myself and grow as a person as I did through gymnastics.
There was a gap in 2006 for providing these experiences to gymnasts who weren’t up for the hard core training to go elite. Looking around at clubs and classes, I could see excellent elite programmes and (what I felt were) poor recreational programmes. These gymnasts were being seen as second class and I felt fiercely passionate that this was wrong. 
I wanted to stand up for and provide for these gymnasts. I believe that everyone deserves excellent coaching and opportunities, no matter their ability or level. So when an email landed in my inbox for a school in Hoddesdon looking for a gymnastics coach to start a club, I went for it.
Sheredes Primary School had a huge interest to start after school gymnastics and had been successful in getting a £5000 lottery grant. I was involved in choosing all the new equipment (that was so much fun) and started coaching classes in September 2006. Even at the start it wasn’t your average club - we started with 3 days and 9 classes with children from years 1 to 6.
Over this first academic year, the club grew and we added classes for the reception year children after Christmas. A fair few of this year group are still with the club now! (Not sure if this makes me feel proud or old…..). We performed our first display at the Sheredes Primary open evening in July 2007. Now our first year was done, there were some big changes and exciting times ahead for our second year, more about that next time……

In the meantime, our first 10 year event to go with our 2006 story is our Birthday Open Day and Join In event, see you there!

Channelling her inner Beyonce An interview with Coach Lauren about our new Zumba class
Coach Lauren joined our coaching team in late 2015 with a background in the fitness industry. When the opportunity to run a special class for 'Herts Girls Can' week came up she suggested Zumba. And WOW! We LOVED it!! We had fun doing the class but even more special was seeing Lauren's talents at leading the Zumba class - shes amazing! So naturally we decided we needed more of this fun and posiitivity at Affinity and will be running Zumba as a regular class from September on Monday mornings, 9:30-10:15am. I caught up with Lauren to chat all things Zumba:

Q: What attracted you to zumba and how did you get involved?
Lauren: My cousin and I tried a Zumba class in our local area and was addicted straight away!  Having a background in both gymnastics and dance it seemed like the perfect workout to allow me to both dance and burn calories in one.  The thing that attracted me to Zumba was the music and the party feeling it created when everyone is moving, enjoying themselves and not having a care in the world if they got the steps wrong!  

Q: What are you most looking forward to about leading zumba at affinity?
Lauren: I'm looking forward to having the chance to show the other tricks up my sleeve other than coaching gymnastics.  Also I think it's showing what else the club has to offer and gives the adults something.  The kids loved it when we introduced it to the warm ups so I hope the adults will love it just as much!
Q: Whats your favourite thing about zumba?
Lauren: My favourite thing about Zumba has to be I can channel my inner Beyonce! x-D I also love the music and the selection of dance you cover (I.E. Salsa, Hip hop, Cumbia, Reggae) 

Zumba at Affinity? How does it fit with the rest of the club?
Lauren: Zumba is a perfect fit for Affinity. We always pride ourselves on having fun, being supportive and encouraging and we can do exactly that with Zumba. It doesn't matter if you get the steps wrong, as long as you are having a good time thats what is important! We will repeat each track for a couple of weeks so over time you'll build your knowledge of the steps and routines - exactly the same way we would teach gymnastic skills. 

Who is ready to have fun with us - the AffinityFit Zumba way? Class starts 5th September, 9:30-10:15am. Two payment options - commit to a half term of FUN and fitness for a discounted £52.50 (7 classes) or pay £10 per class PAYG.