When the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting in-person instruction for many of Plano Parks & Recreation’s programs last spring, one program in particular quickly learned how to adapt by going virtual for the first time in its history.
Plano Aerobats gymnastic coaches started their online practices back in April and are now working with teams and recreational students week in and week out. The coaches use online conferencing platforms to conduct classes in real time. The technology has enabled them to continue their practices, receive feedback from their coaches, and stay in shape until in-person practices can resume.
“I’ve been teaching gymnastics for about 40 years, and I’ve never had to do anything like this,” Head Coach Carlos Perez said. “There have been challenges and limitations, but personally I am very happy we still get to work with our students during this time.”
The students are first taught how to create a safe at-home practice environment with pillows and mats before they get started. From there, the coaches lead the gymnasts through a variety of stretching and strengthening exercises, coaching each one on correct body positioning and proper form throughout the class. They have even been able to conduct virtual tumbling and balance beam classes for those who have the appropriate equipment at home.
Recreation classes are typically 30 minutes long and include stretching exercises, as well as floor and beam drills that can be safely performed at home using yoga mats and a line of tape for a balance beam. Workouts include cardio exercises, handstands, core exercises, leaps and jumps, strengthening exercises and more.
“We constantly remind them that very soon we will be back to our gym, just to help keep them motivated. It’s definitely a new way to do gymnastics!” Coach Carlos said.
Plano Aerobats is a year-round gymnastics program for girls ages 3-16, and boys ages 4-8. For information on this and other recreation programs, please visit planoparks.org.