from Gymnastics News Network via Anne Josephson – Jag Gym Blog

Why should kids compete? Is competition good for them? Is it necessary to get them prepared for their grown-up lives?

I don’t think that competition is either good or bad. It just is. Rather it is how we think about it and cope with it makes it good or bad. How much we stress the importance of it that gives it a larger space in our lives than it deserves. And, when we place it as the most important objective of youth sports, then competition is toxic.

I also don’t ascribe to the belief that competition sets kids up to experience the “real world.” It’s been my experience that competition is not as prevalent in the “real” world as people deem it to be. Success is not a zero-sum game. There is plenty of room for more than one person, product or company to be considered successful and the truth is the “best” is often more subjective than objective. Finally, the most useful kind of competition that I’ve experienced in my life is the competition I have within myself to be the best version of myself that I can be.

All of that said, I think that there is a place of competition in the lives of kids, one that can teach them tremendous life lessons.

So here are my 15 reasons why experiencing competition is good for kids:

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  1. Competition drives us to learn at a faster rate and perform at a higher level. When the meet is on the horizon, we work harder and faster. We push a little harder.
  2. Competition teaches us to bring our best effort. Keeping score gives us extra motivation to do our best.
  3. Competition teaches us to manage the butterflies in our stomachs. When something is out of our comfort zone or pushes us to perform, it’s normal to feel fluttery in our tummy. Competition brings those butterflies out, and we can work on managing them.
  4. Competition does not have to be feared. Often kids fear competition, making it into something scarier or more important than it needs to be. When they compete, they realize that it wasn’t so scary after all.
  5. Competition teaches us to take risks and deal with failure. Once kids realize that competition is not a terrifying thing, they can take risks. No one is perfect. Everyone can and will make mistakes in performances. Competitions provides a platform for children to experience failures and learn from them. They learn that failure is a natural part of life and necessary to making progress in any endeavor.
  6. Competition teaches us to cope when things do not go our way. Sometimes you work hard, and you still lose. Sometimes you win but still didn’t perform as you wanted to. Kids learn resilience and grit in these moments. Resilience and grit are two traits that most certainly are essential in adulthood.
  7. Competition helps us with goal setting. Setting goals and making a plan to reach them can be done outside of competition. But competition helps provide deadlines and progress checks on our goals
  8. Competition teaches us to play by rules. Learning to operate within rules and developing strategies to use those rules to our advantage are great things competition teaches.
  9. Competition helps us to learn to win and lose with grace. Nobody likes a boastful person, and nobody likes are pouter. Competition gives kids the opportunities to cope with feelings of pride and disappointment and to learn to process them in healthy ways.
  10. Competition can be fun. Most people enjoy games. They have fun playing them. Being a part of team makes us feel like we belong.  Taken correctly competition is fun for kids.
  11. Competition can build self-esteem. Self-esteem cannot be handed to kids; they have to earn it. Competition is one-way kids earn self-esteem. When you develop a talent and work hard for a result, it feels great. When you fail and can bounce back, you feel better knowing that you have resilience.
  12. Competition teaches commitment. There is a saying that says “Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t want to do. That is why they are successful.” Building the habit of commitment is a wonderful by-product of being involved in competitive sports.level_8_boys_from_usa_gymnastics_world
  13. Competition gives kids another community.When you are part of a team, you are in a network of peers and adults who have interests and values similar to yours. It is always great to have another village in your life or that of your child’s.
  14. Competition presents opportunities to travel.Maybe it’s just within your state, or maybe it’s national or even international. But being part of a competitive team often gives kids an opportunity to visit places and interact with people that might not otherwise meet.
  15. Competition causes kids to perform better in school.Data shows that high school students who play sport are less likely to drop out. Furthermore, participation in sports also has been associated with completing more years of education and consistently higher grades in school. Not surprising that the discipline and goal setting that is learned in competitive sports helps in school.

Of course, many of these 15 benefits can also be achieved through other means, including non-competitive sports, the arts or faith-based activities.  Nevertheless, there is no doubt in my mind that when done purposeful and developmentally appropriate manner that places the needs of the children well ahead of winning, competitive sports can and should be a great experience for kids



by Jenny Gaal, Fitness Director

Losing and maintaining weight can be challenging enough, especially if you are short on free time to prepare meals or hit the gym.   Stocking these 10 healthy foods in the house is a great way to insure healthy meals and snacks.  They can even increase your metabolic rate.   Always remember to eat mindfully!

  1. Apples

Apples are quick and easy to grab even if you’re rushing out the door to get to work. They are high in fiber and good carbohydrates, which means that you won’t have to deal with sugar crashes as a result of excessive insulin spiking.

  1. Almonds

Nuts are an excellent example of how nature does fast food. When eaten in moderation, almonds can provide a host of health benefits such as promoting satiety and reducing the risk of heart disease.

  1. Broccoli

It’s tasty when eaten steamed, blanched or even raw, and is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K. This helps detoxify the body of toxins and free radicals that could cause tissue damage. Since it contains dietary fiber, it helps boost the metabolism by keeping you full longer which prevents excessive snacking.

  1. Low-Fat Plain Yogurt

Low-fat plain yogurt is a great snack option because it’s versatile and tasty not to mention loaded with probiotics. Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria or ‘live cultures’ that are essential to a healthy digestive tract. Low-fat plain yogurt is also high in protein, which boosts the metabolism.


  1. Blueberries

Blueberries have long been considered a superfood and anti-cancer in one. They are high in antioxidants which help rid the body of unwanted toxins and free radicals, and they have weight loss benefits as well since they promote satiety and gut health.

  1. Asparagus

Asparagus is a weight loss staple because it is considered a negative calorie food item, meaning you burn more calories chewing and digesting them than the nutritional value of the item itself. This is great for boosting the metabolism while still being able to absorb its antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

  1. Egg Whites

Egg whites are packed with protein and contain zero fat, making it one of the best protein sources around. Separating the egg whites from the yolks cuts down on the cholesterol content of eggs, as well as the fat.


  1. Spinach

Popeye was right about spinach—it’s so good for you and offers a host of health and weight loss benefits. It can protect you against arthritis, colon cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. It also contains very little calories so you can eat boatloads of it without causing a dent in your caloric intake. Consume spinach as a way to add volume to your meals and to get your fill or iron, potassium and dietary fiber.

  1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is yet another weight loss staple because it contains dietary fiber and is considered a heart-healthy food.   Oatmeal promotes satiety and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

  1. Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is another weight loss staple because it’s quick and easy to prepare. It’s loaded with protein, vitamin B3 and vitamin B12. Try to find albacore tuna—which is a white tuna—because it has a better nutrition profile than other fish.

body, mind and spirit in vintage wooden letterpress types, stained by ink in different colors, isolated on white

by Jenny Gaal, Fitness Director

How exploring and nurturing emotional health can increase your happiness, joy, and fulfillment with the following 9 practices:

  1. Spend Time in Nature

Spending time in nature can help you disconnect from your usual routine and receive a boost of energy, clarity, and gratitude. Nature is a happiness prescription and could provide you with a much-needed perspective shift.

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Taking the time each day to reflect on the things that you are grateful for can help you maintain a positive outlook on life. When you choose to focus on positive things, such as family, health, having a roof over your head, and a beautiful day, you can come closer to a state of pure joy.

  1. Meditate

Time spent in stillness and silence can unplug you from the hustle and bustle of your busy life and invite you inward for a mind-body reset. Spend at least 15 minutes in centered-deep thought every day and notice how it can help you to gain a new perspective, shift your mood, and even provide you with more energy.

  1. Surround Yourself with Positive People

The people you surround yourself with can have an effect on you, either positive or negative. Surrounding yourself with positive people can greatly enhance your ability to maintain cheerfulness.

  1. Try a New Hobby

What activities make you come alive? Having a passionate activity can unplug you from responsibilities and connect you to inner happiness. Maybe you enjoy writing, knitting, horseback riding, golfing, gardening, or creating art. Find something that you enjoy doing so much that lose yourself when engaged in it.

  1. Exercise

Exercise is one of the fastest and most effective ways to positively shift your emotional state! Low energy can contribute to depression. The endorphins that are released during exercise increase your energy levels, boost your mood, and reduce symptoms of stress. Find some form of physical activity that you enjoy doing regularly to maintain your emotional health.

  1. Review Your Day Each Night

Recapitulation is a process of reviewing your day just prior to going to sleep each night. The purpose of this exercise is to become keenly aware of how you’re living your life and to observe your own behavior patterns.

  1. De-clutter Your Environment

Having a clutter-free, organized environment can lead to clarity of mind and relaxation. Take time each day to put things back in their place when you’re done using them, file paperwork in a desk, tidy up living spaces, and put away clothes.

  1. Practice Forgiveness

One of the biggest sources of emotional toxicity is holding onto grievances toward self and others. No one is perfect. Forgiveness is not about approving a particular behavior; instead, it is about cultivating peace.


Your potential is limitless with a strong emotional foundation.

Best in health and fitness,

Jenny Gaal


by Jenny Gaal, Fitness Director

Yes, it is that time of the year: the time when we all reconsider the reality of the past year and how we may not have been quite as good to ourselves as we had wished.  Many of us make resolutions for better health, fitness or losing weight.  How did you do in about that promise in 2015?

Only 46% of us maintain our resolutions past 6months.  Therefore, creating a specific strategy to get and keep us going is always a good place to start.  Before we start we should consider what has been holding us back in the past. The most common excuse tends to be lack of time. There are things you could do including getting up earlier (admittedly not for everyone) or choose to drive less and walk more. Setting an appointment with yourself can make a great difference.

Another idea is to replace a habit: for example, watch less TV or surf a little less online or do it while you’re on a treadmill. Alternately, you could use every commercial break for a few sit-ups, squats or jumping jacks.  It all adds up.  “Exercise is boring,” is another often heard complaint. Start by choosing an activity you enjoy; get some friends to join in; or explore new options like a fitness class. Other popular complaints include “I’ve always failed in the past,” and “I can’t afford gym fees.” Fun & Fitness Gymnastics has many effective and affordable fitness options.

How can you set yourself up for success? It’s not as complicated as you think. Here are some simple steps you can take, tips actually, to make a difference in your life. The first, and most important, is to commit yourself to consistency. That is, commit to sticking with your plan. If you find you are not able to meet your goals, change them to make them more possible. Don’t try for the Olympics right off the bat – take baby steps and you’re less likely to be intimidated out of your plan. Over time you will find yourself pushing a little harder and doing a little more without even noticing.

As for what your activity will be, pick something that’s fun for you. Like walking, trying a new fitness class or even shooting hoops- start with fun stuff, and then add in some friends.   Consider making it competitive including a fitness challenge with your friends.  Closed Facebook groups are a perfect way to communicate, share and inspire each other.  Joining a team is another great option. Finally, reward yourself (not with food, please). Doing something consistently is an accomplishment, even if your actual task seems small and insignificant. If you have been exercising regularly, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back.

Starting a fitness program is one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, and help you lose weight – even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem. Give it a try – you CAN do it.