Get a grip with Muscat Gymnastics

T-Mag Saturday 23/January/2016 21:36 PM
By: Times News Service
Get a grip with Muscat Gymnastics

"Come on, it’s time for the warm-up routine.” The clarion call from head coach Ionela Yammine prompted the girls into action.

Clad in pink leotards and black leggings, they stepped onto the cushioned mats barefoot and began to roll heads, circle shoulders, swing arms, twist trunks. Their stretches were followed by some light cardio—running, jumping, and skipping. They continued, alternating stretching exercises with flexibility training and kicks, before getting into their gymnastics routine.

The 20-minute strenuous warmup session hadn’t made the girls lethargic, they looked alert and strong as they began to sharpen their skills with a rotation through beams, bars, floor, and a vaulting table. After an hour, they wound-up with conditioning exercises for core, arms, and leg muscles.

Welcome to Muscat Gymnastics, the only private gymnastics centre in Oman. Launched in 2015 under the guidance of former Romanian elite gymnast Ionela Yammime, the centre has more than 300 children from 42 different countries in its rolls now.

Ionela believes gymnastics forms the base of all physical activities and children stand to gain a lot by mastering it. “It helps improve physical ability, psychological skills, focus and coordination. It also makes them responsible and independent.”

The centre springs to life on weekdays and Saturdays. It is quite interesting to watch toddlers between two and four years old in action — forming circles, jumping on trampolines, playing games, and making balancing movements — accompanied by their parents.

“We have three programmes for children between 2 to 14 years. The pre-school plan involves both the child and parent, while the recreational level teaches advanced skills.

The competitive programme caters to the needs of children with good potential. Besides we have the services of experienced Romanian coaches Alexandra Gherorghica and Andreea Neagu,” explained Ionela.

Hailing from Romania, which is considered to be a cradle of gymnastics, Ionela fell for the sport when she was just six years old. She wore reading glasses at that time, and it gave her huge trouble during a selection trial to the regional team. Selectors ignored her but she persisted. Her efforts paid-off, and she went on to become an elite gymnast in Romania.

“My passion for the sport drove me to open the first gymnastics club in Oman. The fun-filled activity will help you lead a healthy life,” she said. “Besides, there is a huge demand for gymnastics in Oman. Many parents who move to Oman had been complaining about the lack of practising facilities, but not anymore.”

The state-of-the-art facility has high quality uneven bars, beams, floor, vaulting tables, springboard, trampolines, and several safety mats besides mini rings and mini parallel bars for the toddlers, all approved by the International Gymnastics Federation.

Though injury worries stop many parents from sending their children to the train, Ionela feels that accidents happen when children perform without adequate preparation.

“Coaches should assess children’s abilities before putting them through exercises. That is why we insist that children perform certain skills until they are strong enough to move forward.”

Ionela believes that anyone with strength, flexibility, and confidence can become a gymnast, but everyone must start at the correct level, and they can train and progress from there. “Our preliminary screening assesses their skills.” According to Ionela, children need one to two years to be able to figure in competitions. “It all depends on their ability and enthusiasm.”

With many children graduating to the competitive programme, the centre has already been able to make its mark in international competitions, winning 21 medals last year in events held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. And Ionela hopes to see her wards win even more laurels in the coming year in international competitions.

“Like any coach, I wish to see my children winning medals in international competitions. Winning a medal in Olympics is a dream, and I think it is not impossible. I would be proud if it is an Omani girl,” she said.
But some might wonder if an Olympic dream is possible

in a country without established or official supporters to help advance them. “It is true that Oman doesn’t have an association to promote the sport, but we are in contact with the Ministry of Sports and I hope they will help us in promoting it,”
Ionela said.

Whether winning competitions or practicing for fun and fitness, the children themselves all agreed that gymnastics enriches their lives. “It makes me happy when I flip around the bars,” said Ethaar Al Bahlani, a grade fifth student. “I train twice a week to improve my confidence level.”

Another talented gymnast Sara Al Jabri, who won the all-round title in the under-10 category in a competition in Dubai, felt that gymnastics made her fearless. “I am now confident of conquering challenges with minimal assistance,” she said.
For Tala Yarvas, a grade seventh student, gymnastics has become part of her life. “My dream is to become the best gymnast in the world and I will try to realise it.”


Designed for children between 2 years old and 4 years old, the programme aims to promote body awareness and coordination.
•Toddler Gym (two years old): Each session is for 45 minutes with parents’ participation. Children will do activities such as circle time, jumping on trampolines, balancing, tumbling, games, music and movement and are introduced to a variety of gymnastics stations.
•Toddler Gym (three years old): Each session is for 45 minutes with parents’ participation. Children will participate in basic tumbling and pre-school apparatus work that will develop agility, coordination, flexibility, muscle strength,
and motor skills.
•Kinder Gym (four years old): Each session is for one hour without parent participation. The programme explores basic gymnastics on all Olympic events including the trampoline as well as refining listening and cooperative skills.

Girls aged five years and above can join the programme. It is a combination of fun activities and confidence building activities. The programme is divided into three categories.
•Beginners (1 hour class): Training will focus on core strength, arm strength, and the coordination necessary to learn forward rolls, backward rolls, handstands, and cartwheels – the fundamental building blocks of almost all gymnastics skills.
•Intermediate (1 hour class): It is a continuation of Beginners level. Children continue to build strength and gain flexibility. Children can join Competitive Programme after competing
this programme.

Muscat Gymnastics follows the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Programme for girls. Gymnasts train few times every week and progress at their own pace from one level to another. Every year gymnasts in this programme will get opportunity to compete in gymnastics meets in the GCC region. This programme has 10 levels.

Toddler 2 & 3 years old (45 minutes class)
OMR72/12 weeks term – 1 lesson per week

Kinder 4 years old (60 minutes class)
OMR78/12 weeks term – 1 lesson per week
OMR150/12 weeks – 2 lessons per week

Recreational 5-12 years old (60 minutes class)
OMR78/12 weeks term – 1 lesson per week
OMR150/12 weeks – 2 lessons per week

Competitive 7-12 years old (60 minutes class)
OMR150 /12 weeks term: 2 lessons per week
OMR216/12 weeks term: 3 lessons per week

Yearly Registration Fee OMR10 (club t-shirt included)

Club Gymnastics Kit (Leotard and Leggings) OMR25

Competition Fees are paid separately, and vary depending on each competition.

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