Review By Laura
My 5-year-old daughter Sophie has recently started gymnastic classes and has been really keen to practice the different moves at home. I was on the lookout for a gymnastic book when I was asked to review Head Over Heels About Gymnastics Vol.1 by Gemma Coles.
When the book arrived I was impressed with the clear layout and abundant use of photographs. I could read the text to Sophie and prompt her using the written advice, while she could follow the pictures herself.
Sophie has got her forward rolls down to a tee but other moves like a bridge and handstand had me nervous and I was struggling to know how best to safely prompt her without curbing her enthusiasm.
This book absolutely helped with this and the clear images and accompanying text was easy to follow.
It also has a clear, methodical format starting with a whole body warm up including stretches and pulse-raising activities then moving through different stages and skills and finally ending with routines to follow and practice.
I love how the book can stand up on its own and I thought the bright, modern layout and size was just perfect for little hands. Just the right amount of photos and words.
Scattered throughout the book are little ‘thumbs up’ sections which contain extra bits of information to complement the activities on the page. This helped prompt me on different ways of explaining to Sophie. In addition to the thumbs up sections, there are also little post-it note areas which give additional advice and expert knowledge as you go along.
What struck me most was not only how child-friendly it was but also how it was great for beginners plus also for those who were developing their core skills too. So once you had mastered a forward roll you could move onto a forward roll into a straddle stand for example. This would allow the book to be excellent for beginners and intermediates alike.
We have been working through the book at our own pace, and I like how it has really helped hold Sophie’s attention. She enjoys the warm-up and then picks an activity to do and I tell her additional pieces of information which she loves.
Overall, this book has longevity which I really like. We have been working on consolidating the skills she already has and just touched on some new skills. I think that this will be a great source of learning, refreshing and resourcing over the coming months. I also like how it is easy to use with clear photos and how it can stand up on its own.
I asked Sophie to tell me why liked it and she said it was ‘fan-dabby’ and helped her stretch.
Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to other parents who had children who were interested in Gymnastics. A brilliant, informative book and a must-have for any budding gymnast.
Review by Hayley Thornton
I’ll give anything a go and my kiddies are much the same, although it has to be said that when I confronted my 6-year-old with the idea of reading a book about gymnastics he was already halfway up the curtains, upside down with toes pointed so this is a field of expertise that he is familiar with. Me and my daughter, however, are both made of soft plump limbs, little muscle tone and struggle to stand upright without losing balance so the challenge was on with this new book. So I got my best long skirt on (I know, not ideal, but I was just going to be the narrator), my son got his Tae Kwon-do outfit on and my daughter, who is 3 years old, got dressed in pink leggings with a fetching pink tutu and a vest. I put a few old mats down left from the good old days of callanetics and we were good to go.
Now, as normal with me, I am always a little skeptical at the ability an author has to motivate the reader into anything other than rigid boredom but am constantly and pleasantly surprised by children’s utter enthusiasm for almost anything other than homework or housework. Firstly, can I say something brilliant about this book – hot diggerty – it stands up on its own! So the kiddies can prop it up on the table on its own little stand and see it properly to practice their gymnastic moves without having to keep stopping to pick the book up. What a marvelous idea!
So, we worked our way through the book page by page, starting with the warm-up exercises and then onto stretching with particular success and hilarity trying to do a stretch called the ‘feet to head’ stretch where you ‘simply’ lie on your tummy and try and push your head back towards your feet and touch them together.
The kiddies puffed and panted and Delilah, the 3-year-old, rolled out of the stretch several times finding herself under the coffee table giggling and I gave it a go to find I was approximately 3 foot short of my feet being anywhere close to my head.(I’m sure I could do this 30 years ago. Has someone implanted a steel rod down my spine rendering me utterly inflexible whilst I wasn’t looking?). My son, however, was so good at it he could practically plait his hair with his toes (should he want to).
The illustrations on each page are superb, showing very clearly how to create the move or stretch in colourful glossy pictures and with very useful hints and tips attached to help give you a better idea how to achieve them and also showing you how NOT to do them, to avoid strains or injury (or long skirts falling over your face).
We practiced the pike headstand (I say we, this was done by my willing colleagues), the cartwheel, the bridge, the circle roll, easy ones, difficult ones and I must say I joined in and we all had a brilliant afternoon. My son took the book to bed with him to study in more detail and my daughter and I had a doughnut afterward to celebrate the joy of exercise. This is an excellent book to use to encourage your children into gymnastics, it’s easy to follow, beautifully written and an awful lot of fun, so roll up your rug, push the toys out of the way, turn the telly off and have a laugh whilst learning something new!