The UK has more gym members per capita than anywhere else in the world, according to the National Gymnastics Federation (NGF).
But if you’re thinking it’s the end of the world and you’ll never get to the top of the mountains, then don’t be too excited.
The NGF is the UK’s biggest national governing body for gymnastics, and it recently released the latest edition of its Gymnastic Survey, which reveals a surprising finding.
Of those who participated in at least one gym, only 18% said they had ever taken part in a competition, while 46% said that they never did.
And only 20% of those who had participated said they’d ever competed in a world championship.
This is a worrying trend for UK gymnasts who are keen to get the best out of their sport.
“Our research indicates that many British athletes don’t feel comfortable in the gym.
We feel that it’s a place where the athletes have to work at their craft in an environment where they feel they’re not valued enough,” said David Beasley, founder and chief executive of NGF.
This isn’t just a problem in gymnastics.
Gymnasts across the world are finding that they’re unable to take part in their sport due to their lack of access to equipment, training or other resources.
A recent survey of more than 600 American gymnasts by US company The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) found that a significant proportion said that their coaches were unwilling to take them on a competition-day training session because they weren’t in the country.
“It’s just a matter of time before it becomes something we see a lot of more in the UK,” said Beasley.
The UK Gymnastes Association (UKGA) has put together a number of strategies to help make gym access and training more accessible to British gymnasts, and they’re looking at other countries as well.
One such initiative is a partnership with the London Gymnographical Society (LGS), which has developed a number new equipment and training methods to improve access to the UK gym.
“The UK has a lot to offer and a lot more to offer in terms of its gymnastics culture and culture of the city and its Olympic movement, and we’re hoping to take this into the world in terms for people’s own gymnastics development,” said Mark Brown, chief executive and president of the UKGA.
Brown hopes that the UKGSA will be able to help put pressure on other countries to get on board with the UK Gymnasium project, which aims to increase the number of UK-based UK Olympians in the sport.
He added: “It’s really important that other countries follow suit.”