Team Florida Goes for the Gold!

With the first week of July comes the kick-off of National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month, National Picnic Month, and the patriotic spirit for the 4th of July. But what you may not know is amidst all the summer celebration also comes the start of the Special Olympics 2018 USA Games. The 2018 USA Games take place every 2 years with athletes from all over the United States. This year they are held in Seattle, Washington. This special and monumental event began with an opening ceremony on Sunday at the University of Washington’s Huskey Stadium to honor the 3,000 athletes that will be competing in the Games from Sunday, July 1st to Friday, July 6th. The Special Olympics flag was also raised all the way to the top of the Space Needle to honor the Games, the athletes, the ideals of Special Olympics, and its 50th anniversary.

One of the biggest goals of Special Olympics is to encourage acceptance of all individuals of varying abilities. Each day Special Olympics strives towards inclusion in athletics, and these 2018 USA Games are just one of the many ways in which they will showcase that. In addition to celebrating these games, Special Olympics participants will also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics in honor of Eunice Shriver, who was the founder of Special Olympics and the one who started this movement towards inclusive sports. These Games are an impactful way to commemorate the road that Eunice Shriver paved, as well as all the accomplishments and progress that these athletes are making today.

The 2018 USA Games will consist of 14 different sports that athletes from all over the U.S. will be competing in over the span of a week. Specifically, Team Florida will have over 230 athletes competing in Athletics (track and field), Basketball, Bowling, Bocce, Flag Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Soccer, Softball, Stand Up Paddle, Swimming, Tennis, and Volleyball. Team Florida headed to Seattle in style as the Miami Marlins baseball team hosted a special send-off on Friday, June 29th. Among these athletes were our friends from LEAP South Florida, who will be representing the Special Olympics Florida Gymnastics Team. The athletes of LEAP South Florida joined us last year here at Balance 180 for the 2017 Special Olympics Area Games. We will be cheering them on all the way from Gainesville as they go for the gold!

For more information and updates on the event, visit specialolympicsusagames.org. Results for Team Florida and specific events, such as Gymnastics, can also be found here! 

 

Written by Casey McLaughlin

How to Stay Fit While Traveling

Summer is finally here and school is out! Along with the excitement of lazy days by the pool comes the busiest vacation time of the year.

While many vacations are typically jam-packed with activities, athletes typically do not have time or equipment to practice their sport. But have no fear because there are many ways to stay fit and physically active while on vacation. Whether you’re in a hotel, a cabin in the woods, or a house on the beach there are many simple, yet fun exercises that you can do with your child to keep up their cardio and maintain strength. This will also help for a smoother transition when athletes return to their sport.

Road Trip

A lot of families pack up and hit the road for long road trips. While long drives can be a beautiful way to take in the scenery, children can also feel confined to the back seat. A good way to break up the drive and relieve some of that energy is to take full advantage of rest stops. If there is a grassy area that is safe and away from traffic, you could play a game of red light, green light or a quick game of tag. You can also give them a set of jumping jacks that they have to complete as fast as they can. This can be turned into a family challenge and see who can finish the set of jumping jacks the quickest. 

Mountains

At a house or cabin somewhere in the woods for a week or two? Not a problem. Hiking and walking on trails is a great physical activity that will help keep those legs moving and get that heart rate up. While you’re on a trail, you can make a fun challenge by playing Simon Says or Follow the Leader. You can start by walking then switching between variation of runs, such as skipping, “high knees,” sprinting, and jumping jacks, just to name a few.

 

 

 

 

Beach

If you’ve ever tried running on the beach you can attest to the fact that it’s much more difficult than any flat road. Whether you play a running game close to the shore line or higher up on the soft sand, you’re guaranteed to get a great workout.

In addition to that, here are some strength-building exercises:

  • Lunge walks down the beach (lower body)
  • Mountain climbers (lower body)
  • Shuttle runs down the beach (lower body)
  • Games on the beach
    • Beach volleyball, frisbee, or even playing catch

Hotel

Let’s say you’ve decided to go to Walt Disney World or some other destination for a week and you will be staying in a hotel. Walking around the theme parks all day is certainly a great way to keep moving and stay active, but if you find you have downtime in the hotel, here is a list of exercises that can be done in the hotel.

  • Push up position hold with high fives OR push ups with high fives (core and biceps)

          

  • Step ups on a chair (Quadricep and calf muscles) 

  • Squat to stand on a chair (quadricep muscles)

By: Casey McLaughlin

Is Gymnastics Just for Girls?

boy doing gymnasticsIf you had a chance to peek at the Balance 180 class on any given day, I would see you nodding your head ‘yes’ right now. In fact, as a mother of two girls who are gymnasts, I can definitely confirm that seeing a boy at Balance 180 Gymnastics and Sports Academy is a real treat! Frankly, I get surprised when I see boys there. And it puzzles me why there are so few boys doing this sport.

 

Is it the stereotype of gymnastics being a ‘girly’ activity?

 

Yes, that’s a big part of it. Every time I talk to my friends who are parents of a little boy, I hear them talking about his soccer practice, karate or baseball. Gymnastics just never makes on top of their list. And even a thousand sparkly colorful leotards and cute hair buns are not gonna do the trick to convince the boy or his parents otherwise.

kids listening to gymnastics coach

 

”Gymnastics prepares for any sport”

 

It was totally the opposite in my case. The two young ladies I am raising (6 and 4 years old) have been in gymnastics before each of them turned three. I don’t know how long they will keep doing this sport. There is no particular goal. Right now gymnastics prepares them for any sport or activities they would want to do in life. And they will be ready! My daughters are strong, toned and flexible. They are very disciplined with getting up early in the morning on Saturday to  go to one of their practices. They always remember to exercise at home if for some reason they missed a class (that only happened a couple of times).

Gymnastics teaches foundation skills.

 

boy having fun at gymnasticsI am sure there are multiple benefits in doing other sports. If you are happy with what your child does to stay active, that’s wonderful. However, in case you happen to still not be sure which sports to pick, try gymnastics. The foundation and basic skills kids are getting from gymnastics are tremendous. When they decide they want to do some different sport, they will be ready for anything – soccer, basketball, tennis, ballet or karate. Doing gymnastics at a very young age is like learning how to spell. Once you know how to do that, you can read whatever you want. Or you can become a Spelling Bee champion!

 

Author: Olga Sinnreich

 

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National Gymnastics Day 2016!

ngd

Our athletes and parents had a blast during our National Gymnastics Day celebrations! Athletes showed off their “ninja” skills in our forward roll and cartwheel contests and cooled off with some refreshments afterwards. Thank you to all who participated, and we cannot wait for National Gymnastics Day 2017!