Interview about Freestyle Gymnastics

An area of Affinity is growing and has made it onto our holiday class schedule with two weekly classes, Wednesday mornings 9:30am-12pm and Thursday afternoons 1-3:30pm. I caught up with our Freestyle Gymnastics (FreeG) lead coach and Ambitious Apprentice, Dan, to understand more about this area of the club: 


 
 

Hi Dan!

Q: Tell me, whats FreeG? Whats different about it to regular gymnastics?

 

A: For me, FreeG is less rules more cool. Its about movement and getting from point A to point B in the fastest and coolest way possible. Spicing it up a little. It’s creative and fun and at Affinity we fuse this with our gymnastics knowledge and skill too.

 

Q: What makes FreeG special?

 

A: Well, ninja’s do it. That kinda sums it up! Not many gym clubs do it in the way we do, we’re unique in our way of fusing the fun adventurous movements with gymnastics in the same package .

 

Q: What do you like about it?
 

A: It looks cool. I saw my friend do a backflip and just wanted to do it.

it’s inspirational. We love watching and sharing videos of new tricks and movements. 

 

Q: What do you see the kids getting out of it?
 

A: It really builds confidence in what they are doing with their body. I can see them getting a lot from exploring what they can do. It’s a great relaxed yet focused approach. 

 

Q: I hear you are a bit of a ninja in training. What brought you to gymnastics and what sort of things do you train yourself?

 

A: I just love sports. Pole vault, swimming, free running, javelin. skating. I’m always incorporating free running into skating and other sports. You’ll find me down the skate park or on the trampoline at home. (Editors note: since joining us in September 2016 Dan has been getting SERIOUSLY good at gymnastics. He’s winning most of our handstand competitions now, much to the dismay of our squad gymnasts!).

 

Q: What would you most like to share with the gymnasts through your FreeG classes?

 

A: I think mainly the ability to try stuff, to be confident in what they do and to know the right progressions to get to where they want to be.

 

Q: What would you say to someone who is on the fence about joining a class?

 

A: Erm, have you seen ninja warrior? Just join.


Wow looks like I may sign up for a class myself. Come and join Dan for the FreeG fun here.


 

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Affinity Sizzling Summer Camps Why Is it so Special

Yikes it's the end of another academic year already, this means our summer holiday classes are nearly here! I caught up with lead coach, Lucy, to pick her brains about why the Affinity Summer Holiday classes are so special:

Q: Hi Lucy, I understand you have been at the majority of our holiday classes over the past couple of years. What makes them different to usual classes?

 

A: In the holidays we get to try such a wide variety of types of gymnastics. We also get to tailor the sessions to the gymnast’s desires as they can bring us their ‘wish list’ of skills and activities and I love hearing what is on these lists then accommodating it! This is the best opportunity to take away as much knowledge away from the coaches as possible.

 

Q: Whats your favourite things about the holiday classes, compared to term time ones?

 

A: We get to see lots of new faces and love seeing their faces light up learning a new skill for the first time. Also seeing current members coming and showing their love for gymnastics and achieving skills started in term time classes - they all want to practice and learn more. and we love supporting that. I love the freedom of being able to do what you want, as the classes are longer, - both for coach and gymnast. We’ve more time to set up bigger preps that we wouldn’t normally have time or space to do so within a term time lesson. This is when we often come up with our best stuff and most creative ideas!

We also get to know the gymnasts better as people as they are here for longer sessions.

 

Q: Sounds like the Affinity fairies spread their magic during these classes!

 

A: Yes it’s certainly when we as coaches are most creative. Plus we have the most new skills learnt or progressed, theres definitely some magic in the air!

 

Q: What have you seen gymnasts achieve or progress in?

 

A: I’ve seen beginners achieve their first skills in gymnastics and getting a real buzz from it, to more experienced gymnasts transferring skills from floor onto apparatus. For example, we’ve been working on front somersaults from trampette in term time class, over holiday classes we’re now doing these from the beam.

 

Q: This year, we've a lot more classes than previous years. What are you most looking forward to?

 

I think I’m looking forward most to the family fit. More people are booked on than we usually have and I look forward to the challenge to get the parents involved. Plus lots of you are doing all the weeks so I’m looking forward to finding a way of each class progressing and building on the next - its like a special course. Families being active together is really important to us.

 

Q: Who usually comes to the holiday classes?

 

A: A large range - and that is what makes it so interesting. From complete newbies to club members keeping up training over the summer - we make everyone welcome. We also often see dancers who want to work on acro skills in tumbling or 121 classes as well as cheerleaders, martial artists and those from almost any other sport.

 

Q: What would you say to someone who is on the fence about signing up?

 

A: Come and try one and see if you like it! We bet you’ll leave signing up for more but if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

 

Q: What do you do if a child is unsure of coming to a new class?

 

It’s important for them to know that its usual for kids to come by themselves and not know anyone - they are often all in the same boat. We play lots of games to help them get to know each other and we pride ourselves on being as welcoming as we can. Also lots of children do return - so if you come back in oct half term you may see your new friends.

 

Thanks Lucy, sounds like it’s going to be a great summer! You can book our classes here.

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How we organise moving up a class



Class movements: When will my child move up?


As a parent, you love to hear your child is doing well and want them to progress.  We absolutely want that too.

So how do we determine when your child moves up a group, and what if they don't move this term?

 

I'll be honest, it's not an exact science. 


There's many reasons for this but the best way I can explain it is that we work with people and we're each not an exact science either. As much as we can set curriculums, definitions and skill requirements for each class level sometimes good old people skills and common sense are needed to place a child in the correct group.

Everyone is different and we love that. It's something we're passionate about recognising and developing at Affinity. Plus administratively, we're a fast growing and developing organisation which creates some extra factors to consider when moving gymnasts to different classes.

 

So, here's an insight into what we do:

 

  1. We ALWAYS want to progress and provide every gymnast with what they need. This is number one, numero uno. This is in our minds first and foremost as it likely is in yours. So you can trust us to either get this right, or if we feel we don't or could be doing something else, we'll 100% be listening and wanting to hear from you so we can work together to achieve this. We feel we know our industry and classes well, but we see your child only once or twice a week - you live with them and know them the best!  We've got to work together here.  Do get in touch with us if you don't feel we've got something right or if your child needs something else from us.
  2. We have criteria for each class level in terms of age, skills, ability and maturity. This ensures each group are in the right place to all work together and progress. So we'll only move gymnasts up when they match the profile for that next class up.
  3. As a growing organisation, we are becoming limited in some areas by availability of class places. So we may have to prioritise those who really need to move up (usually by age) and keep some gymnasts more on the 'borderline' of the next class up in their current class and move them when a place becomes available - sometimes this is after re-enrolment is over, sometimes this is mid term.
  4. To counteract no.3, we are great at tailoring our coaching. This isn't always visible when viewing a class through the window where you can't hear the coaches. For example, for an older child in the beginners class we will be giving them more detailed or technical feedback than a younger child. As they are able to take on more information about their gymnastics we can provide it. The detail is in how we're coaching and developing that gymnast to be aware of their movements so they can progress. We also give extra challenges by changing activities where suitable. So don't be worried if your child isn't moving up right now, item 1 is always in our minds and we will be doing everything we can to provide for your child's needs.

 

I hope this helps provide an insight into how we manage class progression at Affinity.

As always, we're very welcoming for feedback so please do get in touch with your thoughts and ideas.

 
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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....



 
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