Tell us a little bit about yourself :)
Hi, I'm Marie, I just turned 16 and I live with my two brothers and parents in Belgium. I really like acting but my main hobby is gymnastics. I've been doing gymnastics since I was 3 years old, I absolutely love this sport!
Three years ago, I started to practice more and more at home and gymnastics really became my passion. That's when I created an Instagram account (@gymnastics_addicted_) where I share my gymnastics journey to inspire others and to look back to see what I achieved!
I've been to three different gyms since I started and this year I finally made it into the competitive tumbling team! My journey wasn't easy at all, but I'm so excited that I might start competing next year which is very late as I'm 16 years old. I always dreamed of competing as a 'real' gymnast but the first gyms where I went to didn't have a competitive team so I'm thrilled to start competing next year!
How did you get introduced to gymnastics?
There's a very small gymnastics club in the village where I live. When I was little, my mom enrolled me in a 'gymnastics' class for toddlers.
When I became older, I discovered my passion for this sport so I moved to a bigger club. These practices were very fun, but seeing all these competitive gymnasts on Youtube and Instagram made me want to compete as well. Last year I moved to another club to start training a bit more. The first year I didn't know that this club had a competitive tumbling team but a couple of months later, they asked me if I was willing to join their tumbling team.
I ignored their requests as I didn't really have time to train harder. But, a half year later they asked me again if I wanted to join the team. At that point I started to realize that this could be my chance to finally start competing. So, a week later I went to my first tumbling practice! It was really fun and my teammates were really nice to me, we became such a good friends!
I also started working as a gymnastics coach in my first gym.
When did gymnastics get “serious”?
Gymnastics became more serious when I started my Instagram account. I always wanted to try new skills to have cool videos to post online. I compared myself to the other gymnasts on Instagram, which made me train even harder.
When I joined the competition team, I realized that it got serious (I still love it though!!), the practices became harder and more though, and the coaches put more pressure on me than they did before. It sometimes is very hard but I do love training and aim for my goals!
Can you share your biggest challenges ?
Because I started very late with serious trainings, it's very difficult for me to keep up with the basics. When I was younger, we never worked on flexibility and form so some skills were very challenging for me. I started working a lot on these skills and I gradually overcame the struggles. Flexibility is still hard for me, but I'm so happy that it has improved a lot!
How do you handle pressure?
I don't really experience a lot of pressure. My coaches do sometimes push me to try new and harder things, but this keeps me motivated to actually try the best I can!
Can you share your thoughts on self consciousness?
I sometimes get nervous to perform and I often compare myself to others, but then I realize I do NOT have to be better than others! I have to be better than who I was yesterday and I need to have fun with it, that's all that matters!
What was your most embarrassing moment (in regards to gymnastics of course ;)
I have had a lot of embarrassing moments. The couch sometimes grabs you in a 'wrong' place, which is really embarrassing for me, but for the coach as well.
I also once farted while doing a tumbling pass, oops :D.
How did gymnastics influence your life in other ways?
I train a lot so I'm barely home. This sometimes makes it difficult to keep up with school and homework.
Gymnastics also helps me stay in shape :).
Gymnastics just makes me who I am, it's a big part of my life and I love it!
What does your daily routine look like ?
I wake up around 7 a.m. to go to school. I try to do my homework straight after school when I have practice later so I don't have to do it after gymnastics.
I have gymnastics at 7:00pm until 9:00pm every Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday I only have a one-hour class from 8:00pm until 9:00pm and I practice on Saturdays as well. I also give gymnastics classes to some younger kids and toddlers 5 hours per week.
My schedule is busy, I train 7-8 hours a week. I also practice a lot at home while filming videos for Instagram. This takes me about an hour each week. I do not film every day for Instagram because when I do, I film more than one video so I have enough to post for a whole week.
And what about your flexibility training ? Where does that fit in ?
I work on flexibility every practice. I also try to practice my splits every day at home. Flexibility is a struggle for me because I'm not naturally flexible so I have to work really hard on it.
I feel oversplits really help me improve my leg flexibility. My back flexibility is the biggest struggle. I do not like stretching my back at all, which is problematic since this is very important in gymnastics.
What keeps you motivated?
When I look back, I see what I have achieved. This reminds me that I do make progress, little by little.
Support I get on Instagram and from my friends really keeps me motivated to do what I love .
What are your future plans/goals/dreams?
I would love to start competing next year and I hope that my Instagram account will inspire others one day.
I also would love to become a full-time gymnastics coach when I'm older.
Any tips for passionate people starting out gymnastics?
Work hard, but do not forget to have fun as well! And most important: DO NOT GIVE UP! We all have those 'bad' days but you'll get through them. As long as you're doing what you love and you love what you're doing, you're doing it right. :D