OVERALL PHYSICAL FITNESS
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported that one third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese. Introducing children to a sport filled with a variety of physical activities at a young age will stress the importance of a healthy fitness program. At Head Over Heels we offer numerous different athletic activities including: gymnastics, dance, and martial arts during our camps and our ongoing gymnastics and dance classes. These classes increase one's strength, flexibility, and endurance. Strength development automatically occurs when participating in any of our classes as the nature of the skills, events, and conditioning naturally builds up muscle mass. As a result of this consistent strength endurance, athletic arts is proven to slow bone loss, decrease your risk for injury, burn calories, improve brain function and increase bone density. Good flexibility is essential throughout one's life. "It increases blood supply and nutrients to joint structures, which in turn increases circulation, leading to greater elasticity of surrounding tissues." (Salzmann, 2005) Due to the balanced workout that our athletic arts provides, children will be physically fit.
SETTING GOALS AND DISCIPLINE
Another beneficial quality of the athletic arts is the discipline it instills in its athletes. HOH has rules of conduct that are enforced and the athletes must follow these rules to ensure a safe, controlled environment. The combination of structure coupled with the lesson plans results in building determination, developing work ethic, and learning the importance of setting goals. Each new skill will not be attained without all of the above mentioned characteristics. Not only is this a necessary lesson to learn in the gym, but it is a lesson that translates into every aspect of the student's life. Set goals, work with discipline and determination, and attain those goals.
SOCIAL SKILLS AND TEAM WORK
Athletic arts classes assist students in their social skills development. Younger children learn to listen to instruction, follow directions, share with others, wait their turn, as well as many other advantageous skills. For competitive athletes, working together and bonding with fellow team members proves to be an invaluable experience teaching participants to support one another.
COORDINATION AND ITS IMPACT ON GROWTH
Athletic arts improves coordination. Body awareness comes naturally to most gymnasts as they learn what muscles they need to work to successfully execute a particular skill. Even when the student leaves the sport the coordination and body awareness skills will apply to whatever sports he or she chooses to pursue. It has been reported that these two benefits have also been applied to areas outside of sports. "Studies show that children learn cognitive skills more effectively in an environment that includes the body as well as the mind." (Barrett, 1998) "Gymnastics and early childhood movement education is directly attributed to developing neurological pathways in students and promoting reading readiness. While the preschool gymnastics teacher runs about and plays with the little kids in her class, she is preparing her students for successful experiences in school; children who have participated in movement education activities have longer attention spans, increased communication skills, general problem solving skills and improved self-esteem." (Taylor, 2003)
Athletic arts teaches the athlete to be self-confident and responsible. As students overcome any fear associated with learning a new skill they gain confidence. The accomplishment of mastering a new skill, a new routine, a high score, all due to their determination and hard work, contributes to the student's sense of self-esteem.