The gymnast



I took my 2-year-old to gymnastics class yesterday. I was in new territory, and I was wary. There was nothing familiar in the big room except for a few things that I vaguely remembered from gym class back in junior high school. I felt like a visitor to a distant planet where all the aliens wear spandex.

My daughter loves gymnastics. And she really, REALLY loves her instructor. When we got to the room reserved for toddlers, she kept asking me, “Teacher here?” (No.) “Teacher here?” (No.)

Then, a smallish guy in short shorts strode in and suddenly Elvis was in the building. The Beatles had come on stage. The Yankees had just won the World Series (again).

The instructor had more energy than all eight nuclear reactors on the ENTERPRISE combined. He met every kid at every station with the enthusiasm of Barney, if Barney had just downed six cups of coffee.

And then he got the parents involved.

“DAD! What do we want her to do?”


(Louder, if that’s possible): “DAD! WHAT DO WE WANT HER TO DO?”

“I don’t know…to roll over the foam thing or something?”


Elvis was starting to irritate me.

I looked at him. I was bigger. I could probably take him.

But then I noticed his muscles. The dude was buffed. He was probably one of those guys who could actually do an Iron Cross. The best I could manage in junior high was maybe an Iron Y.

So I gave him some latitude. He ran us through a gymnastics obstacle course that would have made SEALs ring the “I quit” bell, let alone middle-aged parents who consider walking the dog an aerobic exercise. After 45 minutes I was having a hard time breathing.

And Mr. Iron Cross hadn’t even broken a sweat.

When we left, my daughter was all smiles as she waived goodbye to the instructor. And I had to admit to a begrudging respect for the fellow. I even gave him a compliment as we walked out the door.

A friend once told me that you hate to see your kids grow out of each phase in life, but soon realize that each is replaced by a better one. Gymnastics class is like that. I’ll hate to see this phase end, but I’m really looking forward to the next one.

Because then she’ll be in ballet. And I bet I can take THAT guy.


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