Monday, July 18, 2011


Image: Herald Sun

Calisthenics, why? I understand that it is great for building up confidence, physical agility, flexibility and strength and creating a strong sense of cooperation within a team but really...

I have a number of issues with the sport. Firstly, enough with the sequins already. Surely a leotard based costume is enough, does a 10 year old girl need to dance around wearing her own body weight in shiny plastic confetti. Spare a thought for the parents (often the mum’s) who have to sew all of the bloody things on – as volunteers they can not even claim Workcover for the loss of eyesight or the development of RSI as they work feverishly day and night to attach thousands of them. It is bad enough that parents need to be enrolling their children into the schools of their choice 5 minutes after conception, but if they have a girl they need to start planning how they can either direct her into other sports or start sewing!

Whilst we are on the subject of the costumes is there a prize for the child who manages to have her hair pulled back the tightest. All nations now criticise the ancient Chinese practice of foot binding as being cruel. A calisthenics girl, if she stays in the sport long enough may have her face permanently altered. As overly zealous parents pull the hair so tight that it gradually drags the eyes around to the side of their head. On the upside she may never need a facelift.

A calisthenics girl’s smile is always a little creepy to – a mix of grin and grimace. What choice do they have, the skin on their cheek being dragged behind their ears? The smile, in reality, is just how close they can get to closing their mouths.

Make up and exercise do not mix, it blocks the pores and prevent sweating, so why do we insist on not just applying makeup but using an entire lipstick on every child? It is not just lipstick. There is eye-shadow, fake tan, rouge, mascara, glitter gel, and foundation. The girls end up looking like the laughing clowns at in a sideshow parlour game.

It is a sport for girls, this is not a derogatory comment, It is a fact. Boys are only allowed to compete until the age of eight. It is mainly the domain of school aged children so why do the organising bodies arrange their competitions during the school day It is a sport that seems to disappear after girls graduate from school. It may be simply that without the stress of studies they finally come to their senses. People aged in their late teens/early twenties are considered seniors.

Every other school age sport uses weekends and after school time, but no not calisthenics.

Surely it embarrassing enough that girls who are not graceful enough for ballet or strong enough for gymnastics are forced in to a hybrid on-land version of synchronised swimming. No lets force them to take time off school so the whole class is aware of it, even better just part of a day so that they arrive at school already partly made up and with their hair plastered to their head.

The world ridicules synchronised swimming but at least it made it to the Olympics. The level of interest in its water-based cousin is not in the performance of the participants but in the chance that one of them might drown during the competition. If calisthenics had the potential risk of death of participants I might be more interested. It would be difficult to be less interested than I am now.

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