PHOTOS: Hundreds of gymnasts bounce around Cloverdale Agriplex

CLOVERDALE — Perhaps B.C.’s largest annual recreational gymnastics event should post signs that read, “Warning: May cause dizziness” – for the spectators.

Hundreds of gymnasts cartwheeled, front-tucked and wolf-jumped through the Cloverdale Agriplex over the weekend during the 2015 B.C. Gymnaestrada, an all-ages showcase of gymnastics from 23 clubs throughout the province. Groups turned out from all over the Lower Mainland, as well as Bowen Island, Victoria, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Whistler.

Different from competitions, Gymnaestrada offers a platform for local groups to display their skills, encouraging the use of gymnastics for exercise and joy instead of solely for sport and bragging rights.

“It’s very inspiring to grassroots athletes and to participants of gymnastics that are there for the love of movement or physical literacy and exercise, rather than committing to a competitive sport,” said Tarn Mitchell, co-owner of Splitz Gymnastics in Cloverdale, which co-hosted the event with Gymnastics B.C.

“Its main focus is on mass participation and performance. It’s a display event.”

The two-day affair kicked off with a day of workshops, designed to introduce gymnasts to new types of fitness – from parkour to self defence to acro yoga.

“The workshops are intended to expose the athletes to different forms of movement and inspire physical activity and health,” said Mitchell.

Showtime was Sunday (May 31), but Gymnaestrada is more than balance beams and back handsprings; it mixes a variety of types of gymnastics into floor routines, highlighting the best of the different disciplines.

“There are not strict requirements for the performances. You’ll see rhythmic activities, artistic activities, tumbling, dance, cheer.”

This year’s theme, “Kick Up Your Spurs,” brought some country flavour to the event as teams incorporated line dancing into their performances.

Cartwheels Gym in Surrey performed a routine to Blake Shelton’s cover of Kenny Loggins’ 1984 single “Footloose,” while Splitz went with the catchy “Bomshel Stomp” by Tennessee duo Bomshel. Judging by the cheers from the hometown crowd, it’s safe to say the western style went over well in the morning and afternoon showings.

“Overwhelmingly, feedback was positive,” said Mitchell.

“We’re really proud of all of the participants and their performances. We feel like the event was just exactly what we wanted it to be.”

Mitchell thanked the Cloverdale community for supporting gymnastics as a fun form of fitness.

“At the end of the day, that is the purpose of Gymnaestrada,” she said. “We want to celebrate gymnastics and bring awareness to multiple disciplines and the benefits of (this) wonderful sport.”

jacobzinn@gmail.com

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