Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards

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Meet the team bending over backwards to make activity accessible to everyone

Meet the team bending over backwards to make activity accessible to everyone

FOMO, we’ve all had it and possibly induced it too – but fear of missing out is nothing compared to physically missing out on activities and experiences that shape you as an individual due to lack of accessibility or provision.

This is exactly the challenge Head Coach Lewis Blakey and the team at Magna Vitae Gymnastics Club are working towards overcoming – and successfully too. There efforts were recognised when they were selected as a finalist in the Positive Experiences for Children and Young People category for the Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards 2023.

Based at the Meridian Leisure Centre in Louth, the whole focus of the Magna Vitae Gymnastics Club is to bring unique sports and activities to children who wouldn’t otherwise get to access them in the local area.

Opening the Door to Gymnastics

Out of countless activities that children, of all ages, could find themselves interested in, gymnastics is often regarded as sitting at the top end when it comes to expenditure. With uniforms, sign-up fees, competitions and classes, things can get quite expensive quite quickly. So much so that they can often be hard to overcome.

“Things are hard for a lot of people at the moment,” said Lewis, “our goal is to bring the best experience to everyone who wants to try it. From teenagers who missed out, to those younger kids who are looking for like-minded children to socialise with, even toddlers… We look at how we can tap into what the kids want, linking gymnastics to parkour or even how the training can support their dance classes.”

The emphasis at Magna Vitae Gymnastics Club is being put on how accessible and inclusive the club is, to everyone. No matter their age, skill or ability. From beginners to advanced, the main sessions which take place on Friday and Saturday can be accessed by children aged from 5– 17 years. Pre-school sessions for 18 months to 4 years are also popular, adapted to be both parent and instructor-led to balance those who need more free play and those who respond well to more structured time. Either way, sessions for the younger groups act as a catalyst, introducing the children to how the main sessions work.

Driven by Dedication

For the team, Lewis especially, their dedication is paid off when they see the children achieve.

“Seeing the kids progress is the real joy for me. The benefits it offers them in regard to a healthier future too, it ticks all the boxes for me. In my eyes, gymnastics is almost like a superpower; seeing a child perform moves they love watching but never thought they’d be able to do themselves, just weeks after having a try, it’s fantastic to see how much joy they get from just moving. I take a lot of pride in knowing that everything the children have learnt and the happiness they find in gymnastics, I’ve had a small part in.”

Having been a coach all the way through his educational journey, Lewis stumbled upon gymnastics by accident. Having worked across other clubs being run by Magna Vitae, Lewis was asked to step in and look after the gymnastics club too. “I’ve totally fallen in love with it,” he admitted. “I just wish I’d gotten into it sooner!”

Magna Vitae Gymnastics

The Future's Bright

As for what’s in store for the club, and the kids, in the future? Well, competitions may well be on the horizon if British Gymnastics has anything to do with it.

“We have run our in-house competition for a while now,” explains Lewis. “That way we get to control the environment, so it’s one the kids seem to enjoy because it’s more relaxed. The pressure is off, so while we very much encourage children to compete it’s not a place where it’s the end of the world when you don’t win. You’ve turned up, and stepped out in front of everyone – that’s a win on its own.

“The most recent was in February 2024, and there will be a pre-summer competition happening next. In February we had 120 children compete, and we’re hoping we can break that record this year. All of that said, for those students who are interested, we are also looking at offering an out-of-house competition opportunity this year. Working with British Gymnastics, as a Level 3 Institution, they’ve suggested a competition taking place in November – watch this space!”

Hear from Lewis Blakey in this video made for the Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Award.

The 2024 Awards

Nominations for the 2024 Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards will open soon. Follow us on social media to look out for our announcements.

Find out more about the 2023 Award winners here