What is it like competing for England as a gymnast?

Thea is a fantastic athlete and personal trainer on our team. She’s competed at a really high level so I wanted to find out more and share it with you all as its a really impressive story.

Hi Thea, I’m looking forward to finding out more about your gymnastic experience. We’ve only really spoken briefly in the past about it, but what you have mentioned has been really cool.

How long have you been doing gymnastics?

I have been a gymnast for 9 years. I started when I was 8 years old and then gave up elite
gymnastics when I was 17.

From watching gymnastics at the olympics some athletes specialise, and some do all the events. What type of gymnastics did you do?
I was a women’s artistic Gymnast and I competed on all 4 apparatus. The beam, bars, vault
and the floor. I didn’t specialise in any event, I was an all round gymnast.

What were your strength’s and did you have a preferred piece of equipment for competing?

My best apparatus to perform on was the floor because I loved to tumble and do flips. I was
pretty good at this as I placed 4th in GB in the junior category in 2018 and I won regional and
county titles in this event. My proprioception has always been very good and so doing
somersaults and twists in the air came very natural to me and I excelled in this area.

When you had competitions, how did you prepare mentally?

When I competed I was such a chilled person when it came down to it. I had no specific routine
but I was just quiet and blocked everything out (even my parents sometimes) because in my
head I would mentally rehearse every routine I had to perform, over and over again. Funnily
enough, I would hardly eat on a competition day because my stomach couldn’t handle it and I would
feel sick. Looking back, I don’t know how I managed to survive a 5-6 hour competition day with
no food in my system. If I were to go back, I would’ve educated myself to fuel my body before
training/competing and maybe my performance would have been even better.

Did you do any events with music?
The Floor event was performed to music. It was a 1:30mins routine with a dancing element- 3 major
tumbling passes and 2 leaps and spins in there. Dancing was never my best but I loved to
perform under the spotlight, especially my tumbles. The music I had was quite up beat and fun.

I know you represented England, which is such an amazing achievement, can you tell us more about this?

When I was 16 (2018) I was selected to join the England squad. This involved 4 training camps
in the year where girls all over the country got together and trained under the head England
coach. It was a great experience but also a tough experience as training was super intense and
the pressure was on to be the best for competition selection.

How often did you train, and for how long?

At this point in my life, I was training near 30 hours a week with some training sessions lasting 8 hours.

Wow, what was it like growing up as a gymnast?

I missed school to train every week, so I would start at 1pm and finish at 8pm. To some people this seems crazy
but to me, it was my normal life. My social life was training with my friends and I enjoyed it (most
of the time although it was hard work).

Did you compete at any competitions with England?
I represented England at an international competition at the end of 2018.

What was it like competing at that level ?

I learnt a lot here and it meant a lot to me as I had worked so hard to get here.
I loved the thrill of competing, I enjoyed the adrenalin rush and the feeling of performing in front
of my parents. My parents were my biggest supporters and came to every single competition
which were all over the country.

What was it like being part of a team?
Team competitions were great, everyone wanted each other to do their best and we all
supported each other. As part of a team, I won 3 British Gold medals back to back for 3
years. I was so proud of the girls I competed with and we were all so determined to do our best.

Wow thats an incredible achievement.

What does a year look like as an elite gymnast?

For me, a year as an Elite gymnast usually had 2 major competitions in March (British and
English champs) then another competition season from August-November. Between these
competitions I would be training new skills and routines ready for my next competition.

Did you get to travel to any cool places while competing?

For 3 years, I went to Malta to compete at an international competition. This was a lovely place
to travel and for a 13, 14 and 15 year old, its a big holiday with your friends so what’s not to love
about that!

From a personal training point of view , what skills have you gained from your competing and training at this level?

Growing up as a gymnast, I have learnt so many skills that make me who I am today. I am very
hard working, very disciplined and a perfectionist! I am also quite competitive and always want
to succeed at anything. Most importantly, I understand what it’s like to be an athlete and this
helps me massively as a coach as I can sympathise with what others are feeling. I also want to
see the best in people, I love to help others achieve their goals and so as a coach I am always
looking to go that extra mile to help people be their best.

When your coaching a beginner to gymnastics, how do you start?

When coaching a beginner, I always start with the basics. Its important to be super strong as
lots of skills require you to lift your own bodyweight. Core and shoulder strength are two
massive components of gymnastics and are sometimes under looked when wanting to learn new
skills like handstands. I always make sure someone understands their own body and their
kinaesthetic awareness before trying to teach big skills.

Are there any cool movements you can teach a beginner?

Handstands are always fun skills to teach beginners.

For anyone who is looking to get into gymnastics or to get your children into a sport, it is 100%
one of the best sports to be involved in. You learn so much about yourself and your body that
you cant learn anywhere else.

If you’d like To find out more personal training with Thea, check out here full profile here. CLICK HERE

Thea also coaches gymnastics for kids at the at the little gym in Milton, so Check them out here: CLICK HERE

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