Initial Idea for a Children’s Gymnastics Book…
Bendy Wendy is the a name of a coaching tool that many of us coaches use to demonstrate gymnastics skills. Bendy Wendy is a flat plastic gymnast with pins at every joint so that you can demonstrate to kids the shapes their bodies should be making. I am not sure where the name came from however it has always amused me.
Jumping Jack however took a long time to be agreed upon with many other names considered… Hans Stand – Roley Noley and Quick Nick to name a few. It was a bit like naming your child whilst you are pregnant the more people you asked the harder it became and eventually we settled on Jumping Jack!
The actual story and children’s book idea came from watching an episode of The Apprentice where the task was to create a book specifically for children. I sat there with my husband and was astounded at how hard they found it to think of a story that would work. I found myself wanting to shout at the screen and couldn’t believe how much they struggled. I do find this the case with every episode of the show though – I always think I could do a better job! However I did go to sleep that evening and think to myself I am sure I could do that…. This thought stayed with me and I kept returning to the idea that writing a children’s gymnastics books is something I must do.
Having had success with our instructional books it felt daunting jumping into the new genre of Children’s Story Books. When one formula works you wonder if you should move away and create another. When the first story board was written and it started to come together there were lots of moments where it was nearly abandoned. I found the best place to find courage was in other people, asking them for guidance and even sometimes motivation. I was very lucky to ask the right person to get me motivated initially and soon had produced a start that I knew I would eventually be proud of. This gave me the confidence to then trial it and share it with more people to obtain the feedback I needed to create a quality product.
Gymnastics has been a huge part of my life, it was my childhood hobby and is now my business. Gymnastics taught me to be courageous, disciplined, persistent, patient, resilient, ambitious and most of all told me I could do things I never thought possible. This is the reason the sport is so amazing, how lucky was I to learn all of these things in such a fun way doing something I really love. I would never have been the person I am today if I hadn’t gone along to my first gymnastics class, enjoyed it and been nurtured by great coaches to ensure I persisted with the sport. This quickly became the story and is hopefully the first in a series of books that will provide encouragement and show you how much you can learn and grow from being involved in a sport.
In my head I had a vision of how the book would look, I met with Anthony the illustrator and shared my initial thoughts with him. He helped to develop and finalise the names of all the characters prior to bringing them to life. After some time I returned to his office and was acquainted with all the characters except ‘Gemma Gym’. I guess this was always going to be the hardest one to please the client with! With a bit of tweaking we had six characters and a promise that Gemma Gym would be easy now that he was confident that I liked the style of the characters he had created. This left me to then finalise the story line and get him all the text he needed. Once he had been given a few weeks the book started to take shape and was ready to review and tweek.
During the creative process with Anthony we have often been distracted by my lovely four year old son. His highlights of going to see Antony in his offices at Magic Box Media was the water dispenser, his R2-D2 and of course the swivel office chairs! He will be going to school this year and I keep promising Anthony that I will be able to have meetings that aren’t either late in the evening or accompanied by a little pickle!
The finished Product…
Bendy Wendy and Jumping Jack Join Gymnastics took 5 months to create from start to finish and we are extremely proud to be releasing it.
This book is inspired by real life class experiences to which we can all relate, adults and children alike. Two young, apprehensive gymnasts step foot into what would appear to be a daunting new experience; their first gymnastics lesson, only to find that all is not as overwhelming as it would first appear. In no time at all Bendy Wendy and Jumping Jack make new friendships, gain confidence and learn new skills leaving them excited to return again.
I am very grateful to everyone that has helped to create this book – thank you – you know who you are…. I would also like to say that as so many people have helped me along the way that if anyone reading this needs help and believes my experience in this journey may help them – please ask! I can’t promise to always be able to help but will most definitely try!
How can you help us?
Did you know that if there are 50 reviews on Amazon it lists a book in its news letters and other promotions (Also Boughts). You can help us by writing us a reveiw (you dont have to have bought your copy from Amazon) it can be short, remember its the number of reviews that matters the most.
We were sent some fantastic videos in response to our gymnastics beam competition and want to share them with you….
To be in with a chance to win a floor beam kindly donated by Just4gym and all the entrants had to do was send us a picture of routine 1 from inside our floor skills book.
These are some of the fantastic videos;
Beam Competition Video Clips…
Thank you very much to everyone that sent us a clip, were were really overwhelmed with the response.
The budding young gymnasts in our classes love to receive stickers for their achievements so when we were asked by Brainwaves to review some of their Brainwaves stickers and charts we we thrilled at the idea.
When the package arrived in the post my own children were the first to see them, my sons are 4, 7 and 9 years old and love reward stickers! My initial response to their requests for the stickers was initially “no! these are for the gym club”. However on seeing how keen they were I had a re-think and came up with an idea inspired by my sister and her children.
My sister had been awarding her children buttons for any jobs that they had done without being asked, she had suggested that this would be a good thing for me to do whilst my husband was going away with work. Her children had loved the concept and been extremely helpful. I took this idea and placed each of the boys a chart on the fridge with their name written in the space provided;
Rules were then debated and this is what we agreed;
- Complete a household job without being asked (or one you are asked if you are aged 4!)
- No moaning about the task you are doing.
- Complete the whole task and put everything you use away.
- Wait for mum or dad to notice don’t tell us and insist on the sticker immediately.
- Once the chart is filled you will receive £5 – generous parents!
The results were immediate one of my sons is fastidious in his approach to life, he is naturally tidy and meticulous. He was quick on the case desperate to get his first sticker – going about the task with planned precision. My other son on the other hand moves through life leaving what looks like a hurricane behind him. His clothes fall about him on the floor exactly where he was at the time they needed removing and jobs are something other people do without him noticing! However my washing was miraculously taken off the line, the table was laid without a hint of it needing to be done. My youngest was creative in keeping up with his brothers pulling out a stool to help with the washing line and inventing jobs like putting the toothpaste on the brushes at 3pm in the afternoon.
It was lovely to see and whilst my husband was away on business it was a fantastic tool to use to have some extra help. I was thrilled at the motivation it had given them and it made me realise that they are capable of helping more than I had ever thought to ask.
One of my closet friends also has three boys and she was intrigued with what we were doing and joined in. I gave her 3 charts and a couple of pages of the reward stickers and her boys got stuck in using the same rules;
They loved the charts but did have some feedback about the stickers I had selected; “We would like to see more stickers suitable for older kids – football ones please!”
I would agree with them on this point – I was extremely surprised with how much the older children enjoyed the activity and liked putting their stickers onto the charts. However the whole chart and the stickers that we had chosen were geared more for younger children and I think this is something that Brainwaves could branch out into. My friend has since kept up with the charts and will now become a regular customer!
Next was onto the real task; see what the gymnasts think about the stickers and charts. I started out by giving out the stickers at the end of class to all of the children. Here are a few pictures;
The younger children usually receive a hand stamp at the end of class and so the change to a sticker was warmly welcomed. The stickers are bright and have motivating words splashed all over them. The feedback was great and the children were really happy when they were brought out the following week.
I asked the parents what they thought about the stickers and the responses were great:
“My daughter loves to get something at the end of her class and the stickers are great”
“I prefer the sticker to a stamp as it doesn’t need to be washed off”
“Children will do anything for a reward I think it is a great idea”
I also gave out random stickers for things that I saw gymnasts do that I felt was deserving;
- Achieving a skill for the first time
- Being brave
- Persevering on tasks
- Trying something new
- Having a good attitude
- Showing kindness to other class members
This was for the slightly older children and I hadn’t decided on these set things until I saw the children doing one of these things. The children responded well and it was good for encouraging good behavior from all of the children. I think I did start off a little to generous though and so the second time I did this I was a bit less generous in giving out the stickers.
The charts were put into use with the children that I see first thing in the mornings, I really enjoy these classes as the children are fresh and keen to work really hard. We set a routine of body conditioning exercises and the children then knew what was expected for the stickers. The ideas for the exercises were a combination of their ideas and mine, I encouraged the children to think about their whole bodies and not just focus on one body part. The exercises included things like press-ups and burpees. It was agreed that once their sticker chart was filled up we would have fun session using the parachute.
The children were excellent at this and I noticed a great deal of independence being displayed. When we do body conditioning there is a lot of repetition and it is probably one of the least fun activities at gymnastics. With the motivation of receiving the stickers I was astounded at how hard they worked and how they stuck to the task. Over the course of the five weeks that we filled in the charts I was able to leave them to the activity so that it became a station that didn’t have any coach help. This enabled myself and the other coaches to work on other skills which was invaluable. At the end of the five weeks we had a great session using the parachute this was a real treat as it is only really used for special occasions like Christmas.
The children that used the charts and reward stickers for the body conditioning also said that they would have liked a wider choice of stickers. However Brianwaves do have a huge selection of reward stickers and I should have thought a lot more about the activities I was going to undertake before I ordered our stock.
I would not hesitate to recommend Brainwaves and their product, they arrived promptly and were well packaged. The products are eye-catching and well thought out. Please visit their website and get ordering!
The assistant coaches that we have in our club are the foundations of the future. They are fun, enthusiastic, loyal, hardworking and such a pleasure to work with. I feel in an extremely privileged position to have such dedicated coaches enjoying being part of our team. Most coaches start off volunteering for hours on end observing and assisting with grass roots gymnastics. This is not always the most exciting gymnastics but the dedication to caring for the children and encouraging them to love the sport is admirable.
I asked one of our fantastic gymnastics coaches to write about her experience from gymnast to coach and why after 6 years she has hardly ever missed a session;
‘I started gymnastics coaching when I was 11 years old and 6 years later I still love coaching as much as the very first lesson I helped out in. Coaching for Head Over Heels is incredible, there is always such a friendly and relaxed atmosphere which means the gymnasts are always having fun and achieving the best they can. One of the best things I find about gymnastics coaching is seeing the reactions on the gymnasts face and the sense of pride they have when they achieve something they have been working on for a long time, whether that be mastering a forward roll, walking on the beam without support or handspringing alone.
No two gymnastics lessons are ever the same and that’s another one of the things I love about it. Gemma works extremely hard to ensure that the gymnasts are always having fun using different apparatus and trying out new skills every week, this is also what makes it such an incredible and supportive gymnastics company to work for as I’m sure all of the coaches will agree.
I began gymnastics aged 4 with Gemma, in the same class as I now coach. I remember lining up at the end of the mats, and although I was not the best gymnasts in the room, there was never a sense of competition. I used to set myself realistic targets, for example, squatting onto the vault and landing on my feet instead of my knees or straddling over, and even though there were other gymnasts who were able to handspring over the vault I never felt pressured to be like them. Personally, I feel that this is why Head Over Heels is such an incredible gymnastics club, it allows each and every gymnast to be themselves and have fun whilst doing exercise, learning new skills and achieving their own personal goals.’
Thank you for finding the time to write this!
We sent this home educating family a set of our books (Head Over Heels About Gymnastics Books Volume 1 & 2) to trial and let us know their thoughts. It looks like it was a successful activity with the highlight for me being mum showing off with her one handed cartwheel – GO MUM!
It is so lovely to see children having a go at a gymnastics, it would appear that they are complete beginners to the sport and therefore have the most to learn from our books. I really hope they keep returning to the books in order to improve and be infected with the gymnastics bug!
Thank you once again for reviewing our products.
Please read their full article at Happy Handley Blog (scroll down till you see their post about us).
The journey to becoming a Semi-Finalist!
I have been very kindly nominated for the Venus Business Mother of the Year Award, as you can imagine I was thrilled when the email pinged into my in box. Working predominantly for myself with no boss or business partner I was thrilled to receive a nomination from someone that had taken the time to write and nominate me for the award.
To have my nomination considered for this award also involves filling in the application form, which felt like I was preparing a ‘This Is Your Life’ project about wonderful me! I found this process hard, continually writing about myself isn’t something I would normally do- yes I have done well………. but so have lots of other people too! I feel very proud of everything that I do, but I don’t work for a charity, I haven’t invented the wheel – I just love what I do and I get paid for it.
The nature of looking back had its advantages and I have reflected on many funny and challenging moments…..”heavily pregnant mum teaching gymnastics”….. “I was pretty much laughed out of the door when they realised I did not own either an iPad or a smart phone”……. “Making phone calls whilst chaos breaks out in the home environment”. Writing about all of my achievements has been enjoyable. I look back and wonder – how on earth at 18 I had so much determination and vision to start my own business and never look back.
Being a semi finalist means you have to make a 1 minute clip about yourself – this is something that came as a bit of a shock…. along with the public vote. I have used my son…..as a bit of a prop to hide behind! He did a great job in helping me and along with some feedback from the gymnasts, this is the video we came up with;
The public vote is currently live and people are becoming aware of my involvement. Whether I am successful in getting through to the final or not, I am overwhelmed at the support that I have felt during this process. Social media is a fantastic tool at times like this and I have received lovely support messages from my immediate friends and family, from colleagues I worked with teaching gymnastics at Camp America, old school friends now living in New Zealand and complete strangers using my books and apps.
Thank you once again for the nominations and all of the support, please keep voting. Gemma Gym x
The review is honest and fair highlighting the many positives of the App in great detail as well as noting the flip side. Pointing out that with the great deal of content contained within the App it is timely to download.
Thank you very much Helen and “Chatterbox” at Kiddycharts
This was the pile of books we had (3000) now reduced to these three boxes containing less than 100. Time for us to order some more! So proud of this fantastic achievement and thrilled that you our customers are still buying and loving our gymnastics books. Once upon a time this was all a little dream that came true with a lot of hard work and determination and is still continuing…….. Next batch coming soon!