How Has Gymnastics in Minnesota Changed From Before the Pandemic?


McKayla Johnson, Writer


Since the global pandemic, there has been significant changes made to sports, including gymnastics. On Wednesday, January 20th, 2021, I spoke to gymnasts Isabelle Benton and Logan Johnson, and Jam Hops Gymnastics customer service rep Tracey Blees to find the different perspectives of people who have to go through these changes made to a sport they know and love. 

According to Tracey Blees, there are many significant changes made to gymnastics, including the fact that masks are required at all times and gymnasts are practicing social distancing. They are not allowed to have physical contact, so this means they cannot give each other high-fives or hugs, which is a very common way of showing congratulations as a gymnast. 

The building facility and the gymnastics areas are cleaned and sanitized regularly throughout the day in an attempt to fight the spread of Covid-19. As the gymnasts enter the building, they are asked a handful of Covid check-in questions asking if they or anyone in their household is sick, and they are also required to use hand sanitizer when they enter.

The practice times have also decreased in order to have less people in the gym at a time, and there is absolutely no open gym allowed at this point. This means gymnasts can no longer go to the gym and practice on their own without being at a scheduled practice.

Now the question is, “How do the changes made to gymnastics due to covid affect the gymnasts?”

I asked gymnast Isabelle Benton what she thought the hardest parts were about the changes made, and if she could think of any benefits. According to Benton, the masks are the most difficult change and a change that is hard to get used to.

“The masks make practice in general harder. They block off half of your vision, and you need to be able to see your feet in order to do certain skills. They also make it hard to breathe and cause you to take more breaks.”

Benton admits due to the difficulties there are still benefits. “Since there are less spectators at meets, it makes it less stressful. It allows you not to feel as pressured, and as an anxious person like me, I enjoy that.” 

I chose to take a look into the world of men’s gymnastics for a moment. I asked gymnast Logan Johnson the same questions. Like Benton, Logan also thinks the masks are the hardest part. “They make it harder to breathe and it feels like you don’t have enough oxygen. It causes you to get more tired.”

Logan also mentions how since physical contact is limited, the coaches cannot spot the gymnasts as much as usual. This is an issue because in order to upgrade their skill level, some gymnasts require their coaches’ support and comfort through spotting.

When it comes to benefits, Logan thinks that the fact that there can’t be as many people in the gym at a time is a good one. He states that due to this, gymnasts can focus more on themselves rather than on the people around them, and there aren’t as many distractions. 

Gymnastics has changed a lot due to Covid-19 restrictions. But for the most part, gymnasts are just happy to be back in the gym and being able to compete, so they will put up with whatever is handed their way.