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...not really nasty, but it's what my Nanna used to say when I turned up happy but exhausted at her house on a Saturday afternoon after 6 hours in the gym. I went to my first gymnastics class when I was 4 years old, and took part in my first competition at age 6. I was hooked and even though I haven't been to a gym class since I was 14, I'm still into it.
Women's artistic gymnastics consists of 4 main disciplines : bars, beam, floor and vault. As well as these, some comps include conditioning routines, which is basically a short music-less floor routine which focusses on control.
As with many things, learning a language, tap dancing, swimming etc, the younger you start, the easier it is. 4 year olds are naturally more flexible than 10 year olds, and so can do more with less pain. Plus, once you get started, the more you practice the easier it is (which is just common sense I guess). I can do splits three ways still after no warm up (I wouldn't recommend this though; I was born with dislocated hips which helps. Take a tip from the professionals and always warm up properly).
Anyway, I digress. Gymnastics looks great on TV, but there's a lot of hard work and sore muscles involved. Gymnasts are incredibly strong and supple, and need stamina to rival a long distance runner. Most of the best gymnasts are tiny and compact, but you could harldy call them anorexic. They need high energy meals to give them the umpf to keep training all day long.
Most gymnasts shown on TV are only the best of the best, but never forget all the millions of youngsters out there training day and night with the aim of making the Olympics. Competitions take place almost weekly throughout the country, and these are often more fun than the major league ones, so take a tip from me and pop along to your local sports centre to watch the kids at work there. You'll be enchanted by the dedication and determination they show.