Nine-year-old Celeste Marchant just wants to “flip n trix” with the boys.
But a Nelson gymnastics club says instead that she has to “spin and spin” with the girls.
Bridget Marchant said that when her daughter Celeste asked her if she could join her friends’ Nelson gymnastics class, she looked on the website and found that it was advertised for boys.
She emailed the gym asking if she could still enroll Celeste, because “she is equal to all boys and her best friends (who are boys) go to this class.”
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However, Gymnastics Nelson coordinator Debbie Shaw said she should join the equivalent girls’ class.
Shaw said the classes were structured based on feedback from participants and coaches.
âThe boys, for ‘flipz n trix’, tend to do more free running,â Shaw said. “Girls [for ‘twist n turn’] tend to like to do part of that and then also a barre and a beam, and that’s the back of the coaches. “
Marchant said Celeste wanted to do gymnastics with her friends and didn’t think they had been given a reasonable explanation as to why she couldn’t join.
“Really the only reason I think about her is that she’s a girlâ¦ I just hate the way that would have made her feel and the message he’s giving her, it’s not good. “
Although she hadn’t looked at the details of the class structure, it seemed “a little odd” that an exception could not be made.
Celeste had no interest in beam and bar work and was passionate about the other class.
“She wants to do flips and tricks, that attracts her,” Marchant said. “[The gym staff] Said she would be on the floor at the same time as her friends, but I thought, imagine that for her she is going [have to say] ‘I am here [because] I am not allowed to be thereâ¦ ‘”
She said Celeste appeared upset when she was told about the gym’s decision.
“She wasn’t crying or anything, but I think it further accentuates what she sees all the time, when she tries to run with her friendsâ¦ I think she doesn’t consider herself quite equalâ¦ is only a little down the ladder so she has to work harder, âMarchant said.
“When she was little, I made her a ‘girls doing awesome sports’ book for her, just so she could see these pictures.”
Shaw said the club offered other co-ed classes and had vacation programs where boys and girls participated together, but there was no âflipz n trixâ co-ed training option. She said all the kids warmed up together.
Shaw said the club had a format that worked and when she asked the coaches about Celeste’s request they thought it would be “very, very difficult” to include her in the boys’ class. The coaching staff had previously organized “flipz n trix” mixed classes without success.
“We found that the requirements of boys for this age group were different from those of girls, and we could not safely combine them successfully.”
Shaw said customer demand was for the girls to use different devices during this class, such as the beam and the barre, while the boys focus more on the floor, the bum and the walls.
They had two groups of each gender, with eight children each, trained on the floor at the same time and when the gymnasium had mixed classes as part of the holiday program, the children still tended to split into boys and girls.
Shaw said the classes were always full with waiting lists, so “the recipe works” in terms of format.
âIt has to be something that works for the coach and the public, for health and safety and for the comfort of people. We have girls who don’t want to work especially with boys, and then you’re going to get some who. do. “
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