Dubai-based academy nurtures children’s love for sports - GulfToday

Dubai-based academy nurtures children’s love for sports


Gymnastics is a well-rounded sport.

Manjula Ramakrishnan, Staff Reporter

Lise Slane is the founder, owner and head coach at Simply Gymnastics that functions with the determination to keep children fit. In the age of devices, drawing out a child to exercise can prove to be tedious, but Lise has risen to the challenge.

Simply Gymnastics offers lessons at a recreational and academic level for young students. Trained in the UK and having reached Women’s Artistic and General Gymnastics Level 4, Lise’s career spans 30 years of teaching gymnastics in the UK and Dubai.

After a career in advertising, banking and event management across Europe, what drew her to Gymnastics? Lise explains to Panorama.

How should parents limit the screen time of children?

If you give a child an interesting activity, automatically the focus shifts from the screen. It is when children are bored that they turn to a computer or any electronic device. But once you introduce them to other exciting activities or hobbies at a very early age, it will keep them off their devices.

It is incredible the way children of today spend almost half their day peering into screens, which means they move less, socialise less and definitely add up far more calories than required at that very young age.

From the moment a child walks into Simply Gymnastics we encourage their love for the sport. We make sure they learn new skills in a fun-filled environment.

The curriculum covers all basic tumbles, vaults, balance beam and uneven bars.

How early can children be introduced to fitness?

The earlier you encourage your child to try different sports and activities, the sooner they will develop a passion for sports. I have a student in my gym who is all of four years and now she trains six days a week. She is very clear that she wants to become an Olympic Gymnast. We start training the children from as young as three years. We then start with basics, shapes, swinging and hanging on bars, walking along the balance beams and then finally learning to run and jump.

What is the distinctive edge of your curriculum?

The curriculum covers all basic tumbles, vaults, balance beam and uneven bars, utilising the equipment that is available in each venue. The recreational curriculum follows the very basics of the USA Junior Olympic Program Level 1 and British Gymnastics Association general gymnastics. Once a child has been identified as being able to achieve these skills in Level 1, they are invited to come to the club and further learn how to grow their skills on all pieces of apparatus.

Our academy girls then train for a minimum four hours a week and train to complete the USA Junior Olympic Levels 1-3. Once they have achieved a high standard in each of these levels, we introduce the FIG (Federation of International Gymnastics) programme, which leads to learning further skills from what was learnt from the USA programme.

What are the advantages of a proper fitness regime in young trainers?

A healthy body has a healthy mind. The more fit you are, the more energy you possess. Especially if you love the exercise you are participating in, it gives you a natural high. Most importantly, in the gym, the children are encouraged never to give up. The hard work that they put in is bound to pay dividends. The workouts also help them in their day to day learning in school. ‘Cannot’ or ‘not possible’ is never part of the regime. The gym only promotes positive thinking and creates an environment of complete encouragement.

How good has the response been from parents?

It has been overwhelming for parents give us the strength to continue what we love doing. We are often told that the children see us as role models, which is the probably the best compliment one can get from a parent. Ensuring that any sport, fitness becomes a way of life for children and is woven into the very fabric of their daily routine gives us so much happiness.

Do gymnastics lead to other forms of fitness?

Gymnastics being a well-rounded sport can easily the transferred to learning any other sport. We never discourage any child from learning any move. We gently help them understand areas where they need to improve fitness to give them the ability to develop new skills. We teach them progressions and ensure the basics are fully in place before allowing them to learn the more difficult moves.

Related articles