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RHS Hawk Eye

The Student News Site of Renton High School

RHS Hawk Eye

The Student News Site of Renton High School

RHS Hawk Eye


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The Downside Of Gymnastics and What To Expect With Mia Foldvik

Have you ever wondered what life is for a gymnast? Have you ever wanted to be one? Meet 15 year old Mia Foldvik, a gymnast and gymnastics coach. Mia started gymnastics at 4 years old and coached for the past two years of her career. Mia’s experience as a gymnast was a worthwhile experience that taught her various beneficial life habits, such as self control and discipline. Although not everything was as it seemed to be. In this article, we will be zooming in on the dark side and things to consider when being part of  gymnastics.


 (Younger Mia, taken by Mia’s mom) 

Although Mia loves gymnastics and considers it as a second home, she noticed the coaching methods practiced upon the gymnasts are not as healthy as they should be, and at times, do not create the safest environments. She  explains that these habits are practiced at all gyms everywhere, not just her own gym. It is the form of coaching normally accepted. She goes on to  describe the main forms of abuse she experienced around her, such as verbal abuse. The coaches would often scream or get unnecessarily angry at the kids when they made a mistake or had trouble getting a move right.  There was also physical abuse, where coaches would hit and frequently leave  bruises on kids for making a mistake. She states, “They would play it off as  that’s just what spotting is.” As well as mental abuse, gaslighting and  manipulation. The coaches would dismiss much of the abuse as “just coaching”  and “it’s normal,” leaving the kids to question their feelings. As a result of her own experience, she would frequently get nightmares about her  coach, making her to have the condition to stay in all night in her room as a child. 

(Mia on a beam, taken by Mia’s mom) 

“Everyone got abused, but it was different for girls who were natural born  prodigies. They were overworked, or held at a higher standard. And when  they didn’t meet the coaches impossible expectations, they would get more,”  Mia explains. She talks about how abusive coaching is something that has  gone on for a long time and has been normalized throughout the generations.   The coaches did not often realize their actions were not right because that’s how they were coached and it’s all they knew.

Another thing she dealt with as a gymnast was injuries. Injuries are quite  frequent occurrences in gymnastics that should be expected. At 8 years old, she broke her right wrist and at 13 years old, she fell off a bar and dislocated and broke her elbow, which still gives her issues to this day. Aside from regular injuries, she believes it stunted her growth during puberty in some ways and stunted her height. 

She proceeds to talk about her own experience as a coach and the way she was coached growing up, affecting the way she coached her own kids.  “When I started coaching, it was important to myself that I didn’t fall into the  same cycle that my coaches had fallen into. When I found myself frustrated  with my kids, I realized it wasn’t their fault. Your body wasn’t made to stretch  like this.” She would explain things in different ways until her kids  understood, remembering that not everything had to be perfect. “My ideology  when coaching had always been progress not perfection, everyone learns  differently. When a gymnast doesn’t understand, it’s not them failing, it’s me  failing as a coach until I can explain it to them in a way they can understand.”

(Class of kids she coached, taken by Mia)

Mia is still coaching, however she chose to take a step back for the school year. She is choosing to continue being involved in gymnastics to witness this cycle of normalized abuse be broken. Although there are a few downsides to  gymnastics, Mia was still able to find the good side of it, and maybe you can too. When I asked the question “Would you recommend gymnastics to someone else?” She answers, “Yes, it’s important to make sure it’s a safe and  supportive environment and to think about what you want to see in coaching.  Try not to get stuck doing it. It’s important to always remember that it’s just  gymnastics, it shouldn’t consume your whole life. And overall just have fun.”  From the knowledge of an experienced gymnast and coach, these are all  things to consider when choosing gymnastics as a sport. 

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About the Contributor
Madeline Aboy
Madeline Aboy, Journalist
I am in 10th grade and I enjoy writing and I think journalism is important and one of the biggest forms of rebellion. I like boba and music.