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Gymnastics, parkour make up for loss of youth sports programs

Gymnastics, parkour lift kids

With the devastation and shutdown of many youth sports programs over this past year, one Okanagan gym has not only survived but is firmly committed to making an impact on kids’ physical health and emotional development. Kelowna Gymnastix and West Kelowna Gymnastix, and its parkour/ninja warrior training facility, Ambition Parkour, are dedicated to making a difference in building kids’ health and well-being.

“We are seeing a noticeable slide in kids’ overall physical abilities, especially since the COVID-19 restrictions on activities,” owner Bruce Elwood says. “We feel that the sedentary activities caused by the use of screens and the accompanying physical restrictions are resulting in the lack of overall coordination, stamina and muscle development of kids.

“But the good news is we are seeing kids thriving again once they start in our programs. And beyond the positive aspects of the physical movement, we are also seeing huge benefits in their social and emotional development. They become less stressed and less anxious.”

Not only does Kelowna Gymnastix and Ambition Parkour offer instructional classes for preschool age to adults, but they run summer camps for kids in gymnastics, ninja and parkour. Elwood sums up their mission in “challenging kids to grow their physical confidence. We want to help build a physical foundation in order to prepare them for any sport or physical activity they want to pursue in their life.”

In addition to programs on site, Kelowna Gymnastix partners with more than 20 SD23 schools, teaching instructional programs in gymnastics and parkour at partnering schools.

“It’s so amazing to watch kids in our school programs,” Elwood observes. “Kids are incredibly responsive to challenging movement once you set up a structure and help them feel safe moving their bodies.”

Physical confidence is one of the many benefits of gymnastics that is well documented. Gymnastics BC reports that more than 37,000 kids will participate in some form of gymnastics instruction this year.

Kelowna Gymnastix, now in its ninth year of operation, serves more than 1,000 families in the region. During the COVID-19 shutdowns last spring, Elwood and his team expanded their parkour programs in Kelowna to include a ninja warrior training obstacle course. Students are challenged with traversing through a series of hanging obstacles suspended on metal trusses. The course is used in both their classes and camp programs. It has become so popular that they are looking to offer a competitive ninja program starting fall 2021 and competing through the Canadian Ninja League.

A new facility in West Kelowna is also in the works for 2022 to expand their offerings is this community.

Kelowna Gymnastix, West Kelowna Gymnastix and Ambition Parkour have teamed up with Castanet on a contest in which the winner will receive a free week of summer camp. The contest closes next Thursday, so enter before it’s too late.

More information about the summer camps and their ongoing instructional programs can be found at www.kelownagymnastix.ca or www.ambitionparkour.ca.



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