ZEN AND THE CITY

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Flipping out: Adult Gymnastics at Chelsea Piers

The Adult Gymnastics class at the Chelsea Piers Field House is one that I’ve taken on and off, here and there, since I was in college. I took it as a 20 year old who had freshly gained the freshman 15; I took it as a young graduate living the fast life in NYC; I took it right before I got pregnant with my first child; I took it as a young mother of one; and I also took it most recently, a few years after having my second child, when my body had finally recovered from a gruesome emergency C-section and postpartum complications. Doing a back handspring again, after several trainers and therapists had told me to kiss gymnastics goodbye, felt like a victory. Adding to the feeling of coming full-circle is that I’m also a Chelsea Piers mom, since my daughter competes on the gymnastics team!

Chelsea Piers offers adult gymnastics classes during lunch time and in the evening. The crowd is varied – it usually includes former gymnasts (male and female), but also gymnastics enthusiasts who just want to try their hand at basic tumbling. Some of the more advanced classes at night include professional tumblers, like Broadway performers, and dancers.

The class is 90 minutes long. It begins with a group warm-up and some basic skills. Then it moves on to tumbling – and soon everyone just works on whatever tumbling pass they want to achieve that day. The class does not include any apparatus like bars, vault or beam – we stay on the floor, with sometimes some work on the tumbling track and the trampoline. The coaches let us use the foam pits when we’re learning new tumbling skills.

Talking about the coaches – they’re just great! You may initially wonder – can these coaches really spot the heavy, not-so-limber body of a former gymnast attempting a not-so-great tumbling pass for memory’s sake? The answer is, yes they can. They’re big and they’re strong and they know what they’re doing. I’ve seen them spot people much larger than myself (men over 6 feet!), and I’ve always felt secure whenever I attempted anything with a spot!

You can also book a private lesson if you’re in the mood for special attention from one coach for an hour. If you’re looking to improve one specific skill, this may be the right choice for you. But the group class is a great workout all around. First of all, it’s longer than a private (for a fraction of the price); and it’s a well-rounded class. I always walk out of there happy that my body can still do what it can do after decades away from the gym. Doing a back handspring is like riding a bike – once imprinted in your muscle memory, some skills, you just never forget.

Adult Gymnastics at the Chelsea Piers Field House, 62 Chelsea Piers, 212-336-6500

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