Annie may have had her first gymnastics class earlier this week, but she is by no means the first gymnast in our family. As a child, I too was a gymnast. Unfortunately, though I started my training with high hopes, it did not end well.
My Mom signed my sister and me up for gymnastics when I was four or five, and I was thrilled. I’d seen gymnastics on TV, and I could not wait to fly through the air like Spiderman. When I got to the gym, however, I discovered that gymnastics class was even cooler than I imagined. There… in the middle of the gym… was a GIANT FREAKING FOAM PIT!!!!! And the best part? Kids were jumping into it!
Our class began and the instructor had us do a bunch of beginner’s stuff like touching our toes. My classmates were satisfied with this, but not me. All I could think about was jumping into the foam pit. After a few minutes I couldn’t take it anymore and asked when (oh when oh when) we were going to get to jump into the foam pit.
“Not now,” the instructor barked.
Grrrrr. In the mirror I could see reflections of kids jumping into the pit, and I was about to lose my mind. I soon lost my cool.
“Can I go jump in the pit now? Please? Just once? PLEASE?”
The instructor lost her temper and got into my face.
“No! No one gets to jump into the pit until they’ve been a gymnast for years! You have to earn the right to jump into the pit!”
My heart broke. “Years” is a really, really long time when you’re four. As desperately as I wanted to jump into the pit, I wasn’t willing to put in years of practice to do it.
When my mom picked me up I told her my gymnastics career was over, which was all well and good since I ended up six foot three. Nevertheless, I’ve often thought of that foam pit over the years and drooled over how awesome it would have been to jump in.
That’s why when Heather suggested Annie take gymnastics I was conflicted. I was excited because I knew Annie would dig it (she loses her mind every time that commercial for the Dora Gymnastics doll comes on TV), but I was also worried that she might have a bad experience like her old man.
On Monday I stepped into a gymnastics gym for the first time in 30+ years, and my eyes went immediately to the foam pit. Heather, sensing my excitement, smirked. “Try to keep it together, Mike.”
A few minutes later class began and Annie was doing terrific – she was following instructions, proving to be pretty coordinated, and having a ball. Still, I was nervous things might go off the rails (as they had for me) once she saw the foam pit. What happened next, though, threw me for a loop. The instructor told the kids to line up… so they could jump into the foam pit!
“HEATHER! THEY’RE GOING TO GO INTO THE PIT! THE PIT! ON THE FIRST DAY!”
“Inside voice, Mike.”
As the little girls jumped into the pit I couldn’t help but smile. My daughter was going to jump into the foam pit, and it would be a victory for the both of us. I heard Neil Armstrong’s voice in my head, “It’s one small step for Annie, one giant leap for Spohr kind.”
And then, right when it was Annie’s turn to jump in, she abruptly shook her head and ran away from the pit. I watched in horror as Annie told the instructor she didn’t want to go in the pit, and the instructor told her she could skip it. I just about fell to my knees and raised my hands to the sky.
“NOOOOOO!!!!! THE FOAM PIT!!!!!”
Thankfully, I didn’t actually say the above sentence out loud. I just thought it.
In the end, though the little boy in me couldn’t believe Annie passed up the chance to swim in foam, the Dad in me was beyond proud with how well she did following orders and being a little gymnast.
And don’t worry. I’m pretty sure next week she’ll jump into the pit. I’ve been talking up how awesome it is in preparation for next week. Mwahaha!
I didn’t take gymnastics long as a kid (I decided ballet was more my style) but the foam pit was the BEST part. For sure. So sorry you had a mean teacher. You’ll have to try and work out a time to jump in the pit…. for Annie of course
I agree with Abigail! Tell the teacher you need to jump into the pit to “show Annie it’s not scary” (aka to fulfill a childhood dream so cruelly ripped away ;-))
Or barring that, tell the teacher about your experience and how the pit had been denied to you. I bet she takes pity on you and lets you just because that’s what she would have done, if she had been in your teacher’s place.
Kristen McD says:
We’ve been to a few gymnastics center birthday parties and they all wind up in the foam pit. Sometimes parents too, depending on the size of the group!
Don’t be jealous, but when my kids did mommy and me gymnastics, PARENTS got to jump in the pit! The first day, I took a giant leap in…and almost NEVER got out. It was awful.
I’m still trying to figure out why your evil teacher wouldn’t have let you in the pit. WTH?
ha! i was going to say the same thing! though I did take gymnastics(more floor than anything it was for cheer) we never went in the pit but my bootcamp is in a gymnastics facility we did an obstacle course and that was the end boy i wish i would have been as smart as annie and not jumped in soooo hard to get out !!! lol it was funny though!
Funniest post ever.
Sounds like your gymnastics instructor was not the right person to be teaching a group of 4-5 year olds! Who says that to a kid who’s just starting classes? Besides that, she just cost that gym your monthly class fees.
I hope you get to jump in the pit with Annie!!
Jana Frerichs says:
I was thinking the same thing!
Becky C says:
Me too! I mean, seriously, who walks their kid into a candy store, but says they can’t even have one piece!? Grr…some people should never be charge of children!
I got to jump into the pit with my little girl to show her it wasn’t scary. Perhaps Annie’s gym would allow you that same opportunity as well. Afterall, it’s for Annie!!!
Yikes, your teacher sounded awful. Who get’s in a four year olds face like that? Hope you and Annie get to jump together.
That is hilarious! I hope you get to jump in the foam pit with her on the last day of class or something!
The pit is AWESOME! Mike, if you are still itching to jump into a foam pit, Sky Zone, the indoor trampoline park, has a foam pit you can jump into from a trampoline! Adults included! At least the location in Michigan does, but there are locations in California, might be worth checking out. Annie would probably love it too!
I feel very qualified to comment on this. I coached gymnastics for years, and both my kids are in gymnastics. Your teacher, Mike, was a big old meanie. The pit is for small kids and team children who need to perform big moves into it without getting hurt. Annie’s teacher knows what she’s doing!
And if this helps you at all, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: It is SO hard to get out of that pit, especially as an adult. It’s like trudging through quick sand. Plus you get little foam bits all over your clothes. And if they get in your eyes, you’ll want your eyeballs removed. And it is full of germs, bugs, socks, keys, phones, band-aids…
Have I sufficiently sullied your childhood dream now?
Hehe. Yeah, but if it makes you feel better Heather, the bugs are mostly at the very bottom of the pit.
I’ve had the kids in gymnastics for a year and they both LOVE the pit now…but it took a while for them to warm up to it. Can you let Annie climb in as opposed to JUMP in? After a few weeks I bet she’ll be begging to go in – or thrown in, like my 2 year old.
You know, Mike, if you want to come to Pennsylvania….they let the PARENTS jump in the foam pit during birthday parties! My husband did it about seven times….but remember to take off your socks and don’t put a cell phone in your pocket!
Abby Leviss says:
But Mike, when are YOU going to get to jump into the foam pit?
That post was hilarious! I love the image of you on your knees, hands to the sky!
They must have a parents day at the gym, right?
Amy Stone says:
So funny!!!! But I will warn you, that pit is NOT so easy to get out of as an adult!
Jody M says:
Mike, You need to go to Sky High Sports. It’s a trampoline park and they have foam pits for adults and children. You can jump across the trampoline floor into the foam pit!
Hehe. Spohr exercise. That’s a good dad joke.
Mike, how on earth were you able to stop yourself from jumping in that big pit when Annie refused?? I admire your restraint!
Tell the truth: you totally ran up there, shoving her classmates out of the way, quickly volunteering to take Annie’s place in the foam pit to show her how safe it is? Didn’t ya?
I’m still cracking up at the pictures you painted with your words! I bet if you asked really, really nicely (not like the creepy guy at the pool talking about monsters), the teach may even let you jump in the pit to fulfill your childhood fantasy. Maybe. If you don’t freak her out with your wild enthusiasm.
Maybe you should just have Heather ask for you…
(Oh! And yay!!!! Annie!!!!! Of course she rocked gymnastics!!!)