Spoiler alert. There‘s more than five. There’s like, I dunno, possibly [insert foolish magnitude of number ending in the word ‘zillion’ here] of reasons. I’ll try and stick to five. I said try.
Firstly ‘hi’ to the newcomers who have no flipping clue what acro is (pun intended).
What is Acro?
Glad you asked. ‘Acro’ is short for acrobatics. Acro has many definitions depending on which upside-down person you are speaking to. For the purposes of what we’re discussing, Acro is a discipline where you learn acrobatic movements, using minimal to no equipment. Think floor gymnastics with even more creativity and elegance. Often Acro is used to (greatly) enhance a performance, be it dance, drama or otherwise.
So now you’re fully clued up on Acro, why the flip should your child be doing it? (see what I did there?) Well, read on avid readers.
1. It will tire them out
Don‘t lie. Tired kids = obedient kids (most of the time). Who doesn’t like obedient offspring?
Children have masses of energy. Far too much, as was the case for me. Even before the unprecedented events of this year, it has always been necessary to constantly give children the opportunity to go ‘full out’. To have an activity where they can truly expend their energy (which for the most part has been cooped up inside a classroom most of the week).
“If you start Acro, you never stop.”
You can’t just get up and do Acro. Well you can, but the more you do that, the more you invite injuries to come hang out with you.
In any good acro class, there is a solid warm up which for any normal person would knock their socks off. Like literally fly their diamond socks (gifts from granny naturally) off into the abyss. After that, there would be a good deal of stretching which is the key ingredient to the ‘no-injury’ pie. My god that pie tastes so so good. Then after all of that, the session begins, which would mostly consist of challenging skill progressions practiced in repetition after repetition until they’ve got it. I made that sound like a Marine’s 8am didn’t I? It is challenging and yet masses of fun (we’ll get to this later) as our Acrotrix teachers are some of the best in the world.
“This very binary nature of Acro is fantastic for the mental health of children. It gives them something very concrete and clear to work towards.”
2. It will become their best addiction ever.
Bold statement. I know. If you start Acro, you never stop. Sorry for making that sound like an email signature from Pringles’ CEO. Nevertheless, its true. Whenever I see a large open area of well kept grass, the first place my mind goes to is ‘should I go do something cool?’ And by cool, we of course mean acrobatic. Its like the best disease in the world. When kids start acro, they just become wildly addicted to it, and cannot stop being upside-down. Thats right, they get addicted to keeping fit. Imagine. Maybe we should just stop this blog right there, because we know how hard it can be to get children to do exercise, especially if you call it exercise.
Their addiction turns into commitment. Their commitment turns into passion. Their passion turns into success, whichever definition you choose to place on that word. But it won’t start without that positive addiction.
3. It improves their mental health beyond measure
How Sway? (Thanks, Kanye). Again, glad you asked. Acro skills for the most part can be concrete. Black and white. You’ve either cracked the skill or you’re throwing your yoga block across the room in frustration (hitting your pet cat Tiddles square in the face), pretending you’ll never do Acro again. (We all know that won’t happen... addiction, remember?).
This very binary nature of Acro is fantastic for the mental health of children. It gives them something very concrete and clear to work towards. Acro teaches them goal-setting without them even knowing it. Every time they achieve a new skill, large or small, the dopamine hit is always substantial. Its like that darn calculus problem you once had trouble with, then at that miraculous moment when you smashed the answer to bits, you want to run around and tell everyone.... its that feeling, almost every session. The look on our students faces when they crack a new skill is more than priceless, they should be captured and stored in a museum somewhere. The pure happiness they are experiencing is to die for.
You just cannot beat it.
4. They become more proficient in other activities because of it.
This one is real. I lived it. I did acro (gymnastics), football (soccer), basketball, rugby, cricket, hockey and tandem paragliding as a child. I’m lying about one of them. Which one? You’ll never know...
“Thats what we do. We attain the unattainable.”
My acro set me up to eat so much ‘no-injury’ pie that I didn’t suffer from a single injury in any of the other activities for well over 5yrs of practice. Not only that, I was faster, stronger, and more agile than 90% of my teammates. I did more drills and practiced more skill progressions in my Acro than any other sport. I still witness the same phenomenon today as an Acro Teacher - my students often come into the session starting the conversation “we had a fitness test today at school...” Not once has that conversation not descended into laughter. I always feel sorry for their PE teachers when they set these tests, because often I get told that the teachers literally stop the test because my students kept going for too long (as in the lesson time ran over). Effectively saying they were ‘too fit’.
Imagine that your child’s PE report card states they are out performing every physical fitness test thats been thrown at them... and yet they’ve never seen a treadmill in their lives! Thats what happens when you start Acro.
5. They become more ambitious.
That is a fact, not just my lonely opinion. Im not lonely. Most of the time (ahem, we digress).
Whenever we ask our students, “should we do the easy or difficult version” the answer seldom deviates from the latter choice. But why is that? Why do Acro students nearly always choose to the harder, more challenging option? Because they’ve learned to love the process. They have learned to set their aims high to feel that heightened level of achievement when they attain it. They’ve learned to be ambitious.
How the deuce (thanks Stewie) do you teach ambition? Like how? Don’t worry I’ll wait. Thats right, YOU CAN’T. You can definitely nurture it and develop it. Acro certainly does both. Seeing, analysing and reaching for skills and moves which seem unattainable is right up our street. Thats what we do. We attain the unattainable.
Maybe your child should start acro with us. Maybe.