To Wear or Not to Wear Underwear?

The question every gymnastics parent has at some point, but nobody talks about… To wear or not to wear underwear under a leotard? Luckily, we are here to help and good news is you have some options…

Option Number 1: Confidence is Key

As you are dressing your little girl for gymnastics that day, you carefully pick out their favorite princess undies and shimmy their colorful leotard on. While you are sitting and watching your child laugh and have a good time jumping on the trampoline at gymnastics, you notice that you can see Rapunzel from all the way across the gym. In this case, confidence is key. Let your child strut their stuff and leave those undies to shine in all their glory.

 Option Number 2: Athletic Shorts

If your child is slightly self-conscience about their undies on display, you can throw on some athletic shorts and call it a day. It’s best to opt for tight fitting shorts and leave the parachute pants for another occasion.

Option Number 3: All About the High Rise

There is a particular type of undergarment called hi-cut underwear. They are specially designed to cut above the hip which happens to be perfect for leotards. You can order them online or find them in a local department store. These undies are usually designed for adults so pay special attention to the sizing!

Option Number 4: Unitards

Unitards may not be the prettiest article of athletic wear, however, they are incredibly convenient (and can be pretty cute if you are under the age of 12). A common misconception is that leotards and unitards are synonymous. Well myth buster time, they actually aren’t! Unitards are leotards, BUT they have shorts attached to them to make the outfit into one piece instead of two. Think of them as an athletic romper, or a spandex jumpsuit.


Option Number 5: Going Commando

When you are picking out cute bathing suits for your little one you don’t worry for a second whether they should wear undies with them or not. Because let’s face it, that would be just silly.  So, think of leotards in the same way. I mean they practically ARE the same thing, so going commando is just a natural thing to do.

Bottom line: You Do You. Unless your little one is participating in a sanctioned competition, in which case lose that underwear because gymnasts will get a deduction if the judge sees them hanging out. Other than that, your child can wear whatever type of undergarment they feel comfortable in. At the end of the day, nobody has the perfect answer, and it is all about what your kid feels comfortable and confident in.

Written By: Julie Walter


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A to Z Guide of What it Takes to be a Competitive Team Gymnast


Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a competitive team gymnast? While we could never summarize competitive gymnastics in a single blog post, we put together an A to Z list. If you have ever considered competitive gymnastics for your athlete, this is a good place to start.


A is for… Athletic

Competitive gymnastics consists of a lot of conditioning, flexibility, endurance, and strength. Needless to say, being athletic is a necessity to be on a competitive gymnastics team!

B is for… Balance

Because competitive athletes spend so much time training it is crucial for them to develop the tools to balance school, social activities, and gymnastics. Competitive gymnasts become pros early on at time management and handling stressors.

C is for… Commitment

Gymnastics is a lifestyle that undoubtedly is a huge commitment. This commitment is not only made to oneself but also to the team, coaches, and gymnastics center.

D is for …Determination

Some days in the gym consists of mastering one skill after another. Other days gymnasts may struggle to finish an assignment they easily completed the day before. Regardless gymnastics, like many other sports, requires determination and perseverance.

E is for… Expect Events

Competitive gymnastics is not solely limited to the gymnastics center, as there are meets, team bonding events, etc. that are organized throughout the year. Last year our team had the honor of performing during a University of Florida Gator Gymnastics meet!  

F is for… Friends become Family

Teammates become sisters and coaches start to become like second parents. The gym is a home away from home and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

G is for… Grips

It’s not uncommon for gymnasts to have some gnarly calluses and blisters on their hands as a result of swinging on the uneven bars for hours.  Grips, a type of handguard, help prevent excessive ripping and are a rite of passage in gymnastics.

H is for… Hours

Competitive gymnastics is not for the weary of heart. Athletes train numerous hours a week depending on what level they are. Our gymnasts currently practice 6-10 hours a week.

I is for… Inspire

Our competitive team starts every practice with reading off an inspirational quote from famous authors, important leaders, celebrities, professional athletes, etc. to set the tone for practice. One of our core values at Balance 180 is to inspire our athletes. So important for all competitive team gymnasts.

J is for… Judges

Competitive gymnastics is known for its performance, for the hard skills, the crazy flips, and the gravity-defying movements. What is lesser known are the judges on the sidelines, furiously scribbling away and noting every minuscule mistake. In training, we tediously attempt to perfect routines to prepare for these judges.

K is for… Kips

Kips are one of the hardest critical skills to master on bars. You will know when a gymnast masters this skill at the gym because there will be lots of cheering, high fiving, hollering, and victory bell ringing. Big accomplishment!

L is for… Love for Leotards

Black ones, Blue ones, Velvet ones, and new ones. Leotards are at the heart of gymnastics, and a way for athletes to express their personalities. Not to mention our competitive athletes compete in a gorgeous, long sleeved, rhinestone-studded leotard!

M is for… Medals

There is nothing better than hearing the sound of your name being called to the podium and being awarded a beautifully crafted medal. Well, maybe the sound of multiple clanking medals is a little better, but still, you get the point.

N is for… Numerous Naps

Learning how to take advantage of the twenty-minute drive to the gymnastics center is a talent most competitive gymnasts (have to) master almost immediately.

O is for… Olympic Order

Did you know that the Olympic order of events for women’s competitive gymnastics is vault, bars, beam, floor?

P is for… Plenty of Passion

Coaches become more than random strangers who teach athletes how to master a simple skill. They become mentors and role models on how to preserve, how to push oneself further than they thought they could go.Our competitive coaching team is all former gymnasts who are passionate about the sport of gymnastics and passing along their love of the sport to our gymnasts.

Q is for… Quality and Quantity

Competitive gymnastics is all about proper form and technique…performing the skill perfectly! Repeating the skill over and over and OVER until the skill becomes second nature for the gymnast is very important.

R is for… Respect

It is amazing to see the respect our team athletes have for each other and their coaches. We build a TEAM that supports, challenges, and inspires each gymnast to reach her potential.

S is for… Some Serious Strength

Gymnastics conditioning is no joke. And no not conditioner like the stuff you put in your hair, we are talking sit-ups and push-ups for days. Our athletes could give some of the parents and coaches a run for their money.

T is for… Tons of Teamwork

Although gymnasts are scored individually in competitions, gymnastics is a team sport. Athletes rely on their teammates for support and encouragement during practices and competition. And of course, we can’t forget the giant trophies allotted to team awards.

U is for… USA Gymnastics

USA Gymnastics is a national organization dedicated to creating a safe and well-regulated environment for gymnastics all across the United States. They set rules and policies for competitive gymnastics. All of our team coaches are USAG certified and our gymnasts become members so that they are eligible to compete at competitions.

V is for… Value of Victory

Winning and losing gracefully is something all gymnasts learn. Sometimes you have a great meet or practice, and sometimes you do not. Learning to celebrate the small victories along the way (mastering a new skill) is equally as important as the large victories (moving up to the next level).

W is for… Walking (on your hands, of course!)

Gymnasts spend equal, if not more time, upside and on their hands than most people do right side up.

X is for… eXciting experience

For a competitive gymnast, gymnastics is a journey that can be exciting, frustrating, thrilling, disappointing, and amazing. Our hope is that the sport will be LIFE CHANGING and that our team coaches will do our part to make the sport a great experience for each of our competitive team athletes.

Y is for… You can do it!

Competitive gymnasts balance school, extracurricular activities, and lots of hours at the gym and traveling for meets. Along with great time management skills, the gymnasts need encouragement from their family, teammates, and coaches to keep their drive and stay motivated.

Z is for… Zero Hands

For parents of competitive team gymnasts, be prepared for the day your gymnast says “Look mom and dad, no hands!” as they proudly perform a “hands-free” skill (back tuck, front tuck, ariel, etc.) for the first time.

Written by: Julie Walter



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What is Your Outlet, When Words are Challenging?


For Madi Livingston the answer is gymnastics.


When Madi was a toddler, her parents noticed that she wasn’t meeting significant milestones that other children were. At the age of two, she was diagnosed with developmental and speech delays. She began seeing a speech therapist. Nevertheless, communication was constantly a struggle.


Growing up, Madi bounced around trying to find a sport that was the right fit for her interests, and that met her particular needs. A holiday event in December 2014 helped Madi find her passion for gymnastics.


Madi and her family attended the Pond Lighting charity event at North Florida Regional Medical Center where Balance 180 had a chance to perform. Madi watched the Adaptive Gymnastics gymnasts, a group of special needs children, and the USA Gymnastics Competitive Team gymnasts do gymnastics side by side.


Inspired by the performance she told her dad, “If they can do that, then I can too.” The next morning, she sprang out of bed and said that she wanted to start gymnastics classes and within 24 hours of the pond lighting Madi signed up for the Adaptive Gymnastics program.

Kids at adaptive gymnastics

Fast forward two years later, Madi enjoys training with the Balance 180 Special Olympics Competitive Team. Competing was a dream that Madi and her family never thought possible. Yet with hard work Madi has mastered many challenging skills and was ready to tackle this competition season.


When posed with the question, “What have you learned from gymnastics,” Madi responded that she learned how to be confident and express herself in a way she never could before. Gymnastics has taught her how to believe in herself. Madi’s mom Natasha Livingston echoed her daughter’s comments saying:


“It’s been a big confidence boost, to be able to express herself without feeling like she is less than anyone else.”


In gymnastics words are unnecessary. Therefore, Madi can show how strong and capable she is without the redundancy of speech that can be so difficult for her. She can push boundaries and excel in a way that she is sometimes unable to do in other aspects of life. In gymnastics, the apparatuses are Madi’s stage and she deserves a standing ovation.

Adaptive gymnastics event



Congratulations to Madi on winning first place in her division on vault and floor.





This past weekend Madi earned the opportunity to challenge herself and shine. She competed in the Special Olympics Florida Area 4 Games. That competition included the newly formed Balance 180 Special Olympics Gymnastics Team, Special Olympics gymnasts from Miami-Dade County and Balance 180’s USA Gymnastics competitive team.


All athletes were on the floor, eager to show off their skills, cheered on by family and friends. The competition was only one element of the day. The friendships and connections that formed throughout the competition were even more meaningful.


At one point, as Madi was getting ready for her vault event, she asked one of her coaches to point out our USAG Level 4 athlete, Abigail. Madi mentioned remembering seeing Abigail perform at the pond lighting event back in 2014. Abigail acknowledged Madi’s gaze and gave her a quick smile. They immediately created a sign of the connection and the likely friendship that would follow.  It was a beautiful moment of reflection in which Madi could realize just how far she had come from the day she saw Abigail for the first time on stage. Finally, she was here, competing gymnastics, the sport she loved.


Written by: Julie Walter



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Thoughts of 6 Types of Parents During Their Child’s Gymnastics Practice


I have to say, by no means can I read people’s minds. Not even close. But after spending hundreds of hours waiting for my kids at gymnastics, I have placed gymnastics parents into six different categories. Honestly, I can relate to all of them, and I’m pretty sure I have been every type of parent at some point.


Parents waiting for their kids at gymnastics for an hour or two (or more…props to you, competitive team parents) deserve the praise. They mastered the ability of keeping themselves occupied. But I always wonder what they are thinking about while waiting for their kid at gymnastics practice. After years of observation, here is what I came up with:


       1. Thoughts of a workaholic

Often these parents are found in the back row of the seating section plugged into the nearest outlet typing away. These parents are in the zone, so do not disturb.



2. Thoughts of a parent who can’t help but constantly coach their child from the back seat


These parents do not go unnoticed, and we have all heard them. You would think their athlete is training for the Olympics.


 3. Thoughts of a tired parent


A busy day and the heat at the gym can make your eyes start to get heavy.  I sometimes envy those who have the ability to nod off sitting up and catch some extra Z’s.


4. Thoughts of a parent who is a social media lover


For many of us, gymnastics practice is the first time we sit still all day. Whew! The social media parents take full advantage of quiet time to catch up on “what’s happening” on social…gotta keep up with the times, right? For these parents, the one hour practice seems to go by five minutes into their scrolling.


5. Thoughts of a parent who brought younger kids to their older sibling’s gymnastics practice


The parent with their other children in tow is the real MVP. As a parent with two daughters, I have come to realize the importance of the “Mary Poppins mom bag” with anything and everything.


6. Thoughts of a ghost parent


Nobody knows what these parents look like as they drop their kid and speed off to run a quick errand.


Written by Olga Sinnreich, Julie Walter.


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3 Things I Am Grateful For After Experiencing Hurricane Irma

hurricane irma 

Counting blessings after Hurricane Irma, I couldn’t help but think how grateful I am for simple things in life that I took for granted.


The adversity made me very humble and I want to express my gratitude in three very short letters:


Dear Electricity,


Now when you are back on, I want to say I’m sorry! I’m sorry for taking you for granted while you were always loyal and faithful to me and my family.


I’m sorry for keeping my doors open while the A/C was set at 70 and for keeping the fridge open while making a sandwich.


I’m sorry for having the lights on in all the rooms in the house when all of us were just sitting on the couch watching a movie. A movie that we could watch thanks to YOU, dear electricity! Now that you are back and we can watch football, we finally are able to appreciate you in full! And I promise it’s not just about football!


While you were gone, you taught us that candle lights and flash lights are nothing compared to your power. Please never leave us again! I promise to pay my electricity bill on time every month.


Dear Gas,


It’s my turn to say I’m sorry to you for not appreciating your availability at every gas station 24/7.


I’m sorry for driving around Gainesville wasting you when I could stay home or ride my bicycle instead.


I’m sorry for buying you when my tank is still half full thinking ‘yeah, why not’. I’m sorry for being impatient and leaving the gas station when there is one car in front of me in the line. I have definitely learned my lesson. And it was a tough one love.


Dear Public School,


The biggest apologies go your way for not saying ‘thank you’ often enough. Only when you were gone for a week, I realized how much I appreciate that my kids go to school every day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids but you are doing a great job at keeping them busy.


Only now I can see what it’s like to entertain them with crayons, coloring books, puzzles and Lego all day long. Because what exactly am I supposed to do next when kids were done with all of that after day 1? And how many kids’ movies am I able to watch back to back?


I will definitely never under-appreciate what you are doing for us. I will always be on time in the mornings to drop them off and won’t be upset if it takes me forever to find a parking spot. I will be smiling going 3miles/hr through two school zones on 34th and arriving late at work.


I’m sorry if I ever questioned your teaching style. It’s definitely way better than mine.  Kids can’t wait to see you again. And honestly, neither can I.


Your biggest fan forever and ever!


Written by Olga Sinnreich

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