Dipa Karmakar inspires budding gymnasts

The centre in Whitefield says it has seen a steady rise in numbers in the last six months.

At RnR Fit, one of the few gymnastics centres in the city, 15 young ones were hard at it on Tuesday morning, doing cartwheels and swinging across bars in a sponge pit. To these children, all aged between 4 and 12, Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, is an inspiration.

“I want to be like her,” declares 8-year-old Erin Deborah Vidyasagar, who has been following videos and news updates on Karmakar. Three years ago, when she started off, it was her mother’s interest in the sport that led her to it. But now, every day after school, she heads to the fitness centre to “learn more stunts”.

At this 5,500 sq ft gymnastic centre in Whitefield, children also get to watch videos of other successful gymnasts, including Karmarkar, Shawn Machel Johnson, Aly Raisman and Aliya Mustafina to understand the right techniques. Their own performances are recorded and played back daily, which helps them work on their techniques and improve themselves.

“I love watching videos of gymnasts on my iPad,” says Aryaa Tejas, 8, a student of Chrysalis High. A month ago, he came across Deepa’s video, and then Googled to find out more about her. “Someday, I’d like to be like her, but with muscles,” says Aryaa.

He recently “cut out the hip-hop dance” lessons from his routine to concentrate on gymnastics. “We do some cool stuff – front and back flips, swinging on the bars and rings… I’m now focussing on learning these better,” says Aryaa.

Akshara Oruganti, a student of the Deen’s Academy, is giving gymnastics a shot over the summer. “I took up lessons after hearing about it from my friends. It’s fun and I’m learning something new, so I will probably take up regular sessions now,” she says.

These children have been cutting down on dance and other more popular sports, to give gymnastics – all about flexibility, strength and coordination – a try. “Gymnastics is still a niche sport, which is why we did not expect to get the response we got.

“But the sport is garnering interest not only because parents want to try something new but also because children want to perform these stunts – it makes them look cool among their peers,” says Vivienne Vidyasagar, the founder of RnR Fit.

It’s no surprise then that in the six months of RnR Fit’s inception, the centre has seen a steady increase in numbers. What started off with 30 children enrolling for their regular one-hour-plus sessions, has now gone up to 100.

This is in addition to the 16 children, who are attending their summer programme, a four-hour session, five days a week.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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