Childrens Book on gymnsatics
Childrens Book on gymnsatics

Creating Bendy Wendy and Jumping Jack join Gymnastics Story Book

Initial Idea for a Children’s Gymnastics Book…

Children's Gymnastics Books
Coaching Tool ‘Bendy Wendy’

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.

Brand new Children's Gymnastics Book..
Brand new Children’s Gymnastics Book..

Changing Genre…

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.


The Story…

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. Himageis 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 2015-04-08-22-38-37promising 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.

Brand new Children's Gymnastics Book..
Brand new Children’s Gymnastics Book..

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.


Sharing Knowledge

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.

Gymnastics PE Lesson Plan Using Our Pair & Trio Balance Book

In this blog I would like to show Teachers how you could easily use one of the balances from our book ‘Pair and Trio Balances’ to create a fun and engaging Gymnastics PE lesson.

When I am not writing and promoting books I teach Gymnastics in primary schools and run a busy gymnastics club. The time I spend in Schools is some of the most enjoyable of my week. The teachers are extremely enthusiastic to improve their teaching of gymnastics and always welcome new ideas. This week we trialed using one of the balances from our Pair and Trio Balance book and it resulted in a very successful Gymnastics PE lesson that could be developed further for future lessons.

I chose this exciting balance from the book for our Gymnastics PE lesson;

Gymnastics PE lesson
Gymnastics PE lesson ‘Car Transporter’

It is a Front Support balance performed on top of a Back Support, if you wanted to give it a name to engage the children I guess you could call it a ‘Car Transporter’ as I think it looks like one! The children quite often have better ideas than me though… so you could always ask them to name it. The two gymnastics shapes used to make this balance; Back and Front Support  require a strong core, stretched legs, pointed toes and head kept in a neutral position. The perfect shape should look just like the picture with a straight line from shoulders all the way to toes. If you have a child that struggles to hold a Front Support allow them to simplify it by positioning one knee/foot on the floor .

Gymnastics PE Lesson – Warm-Up

A few ideas for warm up games incorporating this balance into your Gymnastics PE Lesson;

  • Stuck in the mud – Choose 2 or 3 children to be your catchers, when they catch the remaining children those children perform a back or front support. To be freed a child must slide underneath the front or back support. Once freed a child can then run around again. A child can also jump over the feet to free their peers or go under and then over their feet.
  • Spot shapes – Place a number of colored spots around the hall and ask the children to travel safely around the room. When you clap your hands shout out a gymnastics shape (including Front and Back Support) the children must then find a spot on which to perform the shape.
  • Over and under – Half the class make a shape of your choice and the rest of the class are instructed to safely travel under or over the other children as many times as they can before you ask them to stop and swap over. For example slide under a Front Support or jump over the feet. To extend the game ask the children to go under and then over the same child.

I always finish the warm up games with a quick stretch, I keep the stretching dynamic and try not to do any static (still) stretches. I like arm swings, hip circles, lunging, ankle and wrist circles etc. If you would like ideas for further stretches there are sections in the front of both book 1&2 that you can include in your own Gymnastics PE lesson.

Application Activity

In the Gymnastics PE lesson pair up the children and teach the ‘Car Transporter’ balance ensuring all the children are capable of performing the shapes correctly first. Discuss with the children who should go on the bottom and who should go on the top. The general rule is that the stronger of the pair should go on the bottom but it may take some trial and error to work out who should go where! Give the children time to practice the balance and then ask the children to see if they can all hold it together as a class for 3 seconds.

Developing Activity

Ask the children to develop their own pair balance using a Front Support, insist that one child makes this shape and that the other partner can make any shape that they like to develop their own unique balance. Spend time looking at the balances that are created and again challenge the class to hold the balance as a class for 3 seconds. Challenge the children to perform someone else’s balance.

Repeat this activity requesting that one member of the team must perform a back support. The children’s ideas are endless and we found that they had much better ideas than both the coaches and teachers during our Gymnastics PE lessons!

Gymnatics PE Lesson Cool Down

  • Keeping the children in their pairs ask them to mirror each other. Demonstrate this activity with one of the children, keeping the activity slower than the rest of the pace of the class. When you are the leader choose gentle stretching moves to encourage a thorough cool down.
  • Ask the children to run and touch each of the four walls of the hall. When they return to where they started, ask the children to lie down and think about what is going on with their bodies. Discuss why their breathing and heart rate accelerated and why it is slowing, talk about why they might be sweating and feeling hot. Finish this activity by asking them to lie still for 20 seconds – allowing time for them to rest and think about what you have been discussing during the Gymnastics PE lesson.

Ideas For Followup Gymnastics PE Lessons

Once the children have two balances that they are able to hold for the 3 seconds required they have the key components for a quality pair gymnastic routine.  Discuss ideas of how to then create a routine using these balances in future Gymnastics PE lessons.

My suggestion would be to give two or three skills for the children to add into a routine (e.g. roll, travel, leap, Gymnastics shape and synchronization, mirroring). Once you have chosen these write them onto a whiteboard and provide the children ideas of how to link these skills to the balances they have created. Children are usually very good at the creative side of gymnastics and will quickly develop fantastic routines.

Use the pairs that are first to put together their routines to demonstrate good practice and discuss why their routines are successful. In addition ask the children what it is that they like about their routine and how they could look to improve it. Allow time for the children to generate these routines and perform them to another pair or half of the class during the Gymnastics PE lesson.

The Head Over Heels Pairs and Trio Balance book used in this Gymnastics PE lesson plan can be purchased from the following link;

Head Over Heels About Gymnastics Books

For more ideas please also have a look at our app, this has been created from our first book and contains full video tutorials of all fundamental gymnastics floor skills.

Head Over Heels About Gymnastics App

Below is a sample video tutorial from the app;

Brainwaves Reward Stickers and Charts

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;

Brainwaves - Mini Sticker Chart

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 sticker charts on the fridge.

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.

Brain 4

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 launch of our Volume 1: Floor Skills DVD sending us Head Over Heels!



Following the success of Head Over Heels About Gymnastics Floor Skills and the accompanying App we decided to launch our first Gymnastics DVD. The lovely Harry and Charles from Plato Video worked tirelessly with us to create this fantastic addition to our growing collection of Gymnastics Books, Apps an now DVD’s.

Whether you’re a coach, PE teacher, parent or even a budding gymnast yourself, this DVD contains everything you need to know about developing a range of essential gymnastics skills.

High quality clips guide the gymnasts through a multitude of floor skills under the expert tuition of Gemma Coles, Head Coach of Head Over Heels Gymnastics. The clips break down the skills in detail with slow motion features for the more advanced skills. The featured gymnasts range in ability and provide achievable gymnastics results whether you are new to the sport or an advanced gymnast.

Check out this sample tutorial from our YouTube:

This is my son who was super excited to see his mummy on the TV!


10 Things to look for in educational apps – we are awarded 5 Stars.

The 10 Main things to look for in an educational app

  1. A strong association with learning outcomes (whether curriculum or non-curriculum based)
  2. Interactivity with the learner via correction and feedback on any questions that are set
  3. An ease of use of the app so that the learner does not need any guidance and can teach one’s self if necessary
  4. Variety of levels for progression and different levels within the same age-group are taken into account
  5. The ability to collaborate on work with others and co-create
  6. The impetus to motivate learners to go beyond the apps and find more information on the subject at hand
  7. The impetus to engage learners and hold their attention to fulfil learning objectives
  8. Clear Pricing, no in-app purchases and privacy controls
  9. Good Quality, Design and Sound features
  10. Content without errors in subject matter and/or spelling

We were thrilled to be awarded 5 Stars judged on this criteria.

Frog Balance

page 21 frog balance_marked

Crouch down resting your knees on your elbows.

Tip forwards lifting your feet off the ground.

Point your toes.


page 21 arabesque_marked

Keep your standing leg straight.

Lift your back foot above hip height,

Resist the temptation to lean forwards.

Keep your shoulders and chest lifted.

Pictures sent in from our gymnasts

THANK YOU…. for all the fantastic pictures you have been sending us.

Every time we receive a picture like this it reinforces why we spend the time teaching and promoting the wonderful sport of gymnastics. Over the past 3 years we have sold over 3000 books and the app should be on lots of children’s tablets soon. This huge success is proven when we see the fruits of the hard work in these children having fun. Please keep the pictures coming it enables us to promote our products and get the beautiful sport of gymnastics accessible to more and more children.

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Using Hoops in your PE Lessons

Today I spent the day exploring the use of hoops in my Gymnastics Lessons. Having enjoyed a workshop at the British Gymnastics Conference last year I felt inspired by the ideas they had given us and decided to give it a go.

The first thing I did was scatter the hoops all around the floor using different coloured hoops of various sizes. I then invented a game (that came from that special place that all coaches/teachers that work with children seem to have in their brains) where the children ran around and I shouted a colour and a body part and the children then had to find a hoop of that colour and place the body part in the hoop  The children seemed to love it and we covered all the typical body parts. I also threw in a few that kept them interested that weren’t so typical – noses, tummies and balancing on just bottoms! I tried this on different ages too and added in co-operation tasks so had just two hoops of a certain colour and they all had to get a toe in and find space for each other. I requested two people in the same hoop both balancing on one foot and then three children etc. It went really well and the game was really versatile for all ages.

Upon finishing the game we had a ‘play’ with the hoops – they are children after all! I let the children develop their own ideas having given them a few of my own. We then shared lots of peoples ideas, I picked out the best ideas and developed them to include more gymnastics skills. Before I knew it we had ideas coming out of our ears and loads of the curriculum covered. Favorites of mine were throw the hoop up into the air and let it fall around you whilst you held a pencil shape (the hoop shouldn’t touch you!). Spin the hoop as you throw it so that it comes back towards you and then jump over it. Spin your hoop round your arm, then swap arms or even swap to a partners arms. The ideas were endless and the children really enjoyed it. We will keep all these ideas and add them to routines that we do in the future. Hoops will become a staple hand apparatus for lots of my routines going forward!

We then split into groups and I set the children activities to incorporate more of the gymnastics skills.  One child held the hoop out for the rest of their group to roll through – forwards and sideways. We used the hoops to put our hands in for cartwheels and then used the hoops for hurdle step practice (first hoop – one foot, second hoop – two feet take off JUMP then third hoop – landing shape) all great activities and we could have expanded this had we more time.

To finish off the classes we joined together in a large circle all linking hands and passed  hoops round the circle. The children had to stay linked together getting their whole bodies through the hoop to pass it to the next person. This was a great team work activity and a lovely finish to a great class.


Read It Daddy has fun with Charlotte

Indie Pen-Dance Wednesday – Head Over Heels About…Gymnastics by Gemma Coles (Head Over Heels Gymnastics)

Head Over Heels About Gymnastics Volume 1 – By Head Coach Gemma Coles

For Indie Pen-Dance Wednesday and our second indie book for today, we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to look at Gemma Coles’ excellent “Head Over Heels About…Gymnastics”. Described as “An absolute must-have for anyone with an interest in gymnastics”, it got Charlotte very excited about taking a look at some of the exercises, and giving them a try at home.

In fact, I’m handing over the review to Charlotte – who loved the book so much that she couldn’t wait to start trying out some of the exercises. Here’s Charlotte doing some Teddy Bear Rolls.

Volume 1 covers floor skills for girls and boys, with brilliant clear photography and progressive ‘shadow moves’ to demonstrate each move in detail. Of course, most important is a section on warming up and stretching, and we emphasise this strongly for the purposes of our review, the book should be used with supervision for younger children.

It’s hugely encouraging, and Charlotte liked the idea that the book ‘stands up’ (and hooray, it’s spiral-bound too – so it stays put for you to be able to concentrate on move progression without having to juggle with the book while you do so!

What? How does she do that? I can’t do that!

Charlotte does Ballet at school and is very active, so the book was definitely of huge interest to her. She now wants to do gymnastics at school as soon as the more organised programmes begin (her school do a gym class but it’s fairly informal and doesn’t have the structure that the books demonstrate so well).

Charlotte demonstrates a warm-up straddle stretch.

When someone is as passionate about what they do as Gemma obviously is – and puts their expertise and knowledge into a book like this, it really shines through, and provides a fantastic accompaniment to gymnastic classes or even offers pointers to children and parents who may want to try out some of the simpler moves themselves before progressing to organised classes in and outside school.

It got a huge thumbs up from all three of us (Charlotte, my wife and me of course) and anything that positively encourages children to take up physical activity in such a fantastic way is definitely worth looking into. Here’s Charlotte again with the second part of her routine. What a little star!

“Head Over Heels About…Gymnastics – Volume 1” can be obtained from Gemma’s website, priced at £11.99 :

Charlotte’s best bit: All of it! Particularly putting a routine together, and doing teddy bear rolls.

Daddy and Mummy’s Favourite bit: A hugely positive response from Charlotte to a book that really does capture the essence of gymnastics, and presents it in a clear, concise and above all fun way to inspire children to get active!

(Very kindly supplied for review by Gemma Coles)

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Gymnastics Learning Book

This book is a learning tool that helps children with the fundamental building blocks of gymnastics. This book teaches all of the basics for gymnastics, if you want a book that you can instantly pick up and have your child cartwheeling and getting active with then this is the book for you. The book is designed with all the correct techniques and endorsed by fully qualified gymnastics coaches currently teaching the sport.You will find this book helpful, easy to understand and fun.