Jumping, rolling, climbing and leaping. Seven kids were having a blast on a new piece of gym equipment installed at ARGOS Gymnastics Club as part of the Go Ninja class on Wednesday.
The class was established to get more boys involved in gymnastics, using a fusion of gymnastics, acrobatics, obstacle course training and freestyle movement.
For nine-year-old James, coming to Go Ninja class is a highlight of his week.
"It's fun, it's something I look forward to in the afternoon. There's lots of jumping, rolling, climbing and training. I hope I'll get better and better."
Seven-year-old Fletcher says he enjoys getting the chance to do lots of climbing, jumping high, and swinging.
The new equipment, called a 'rigging', features a large metal frame with bars and the ability to hang ropes and balls. Children can use it to swing between bars, climb the ropes and weave in between the balls.
It's the prime piece of equipment in the Go Ninja obstacle course which also features mats, wedges and boxes that can be moved around each week to create new courses.
ARGOS Gymnastics Centre Manager Stephanie Kerr says the Go Ninja class is designed to develop children's ability to overcome obstacles and enhance their ability to problem solve in a variety of situations.
"Gymnastics is one of those fundamental sports, where you can develop skills such as strength and coordination, making you better for any other sport that you choose. It develops skills such as focus, concentration and risk-taking, and it is incredible for improving flexibility and balance.
"Our aim is to draw kids in who want to better themselves at other sports. As they learn body awareness through Ninja, when they start playing rugby, netball or whatever sport they choose, then they have already developed these skills and this gives them an athletic advantage.
"Go Ninja is for those kids that don't like the more traditional kind of gymnastics. It's basically a moveable obstacle course. The kids move around, learn how to roll and climb properly – all those things children like to do. It's a really good fit for those boys that like to challenge themselves."
The new gym equipment was needed due to the huge interest in the class.
"We have so much interest in it, there's a lot of people that want to do it, and we really want to build it bigger and just get more boys on board.
"The rigging creates another part of the course. Previously, we've used what we have but because over the last couple of months we've taken on so many new classes we are a bit strapped for sharing the equipment.
"At the moment, we have about 50 to 60 kids doing the class, but we are looking to double that. We are also looking at setting up some youth classes in the evenings for teenagers to use it."
ARGOS was established 30 years ago out of the amalgamation of four local gymnastics clubs.
Now as the biggest gymnastics club in the Bay of Plenty, ARGOS has around 700 members, and sees a diverse community of people use the club for fitness, fun and gymnastics fundamentals.
Stephanie says they are an inclusive club with a lot going on.
"We have a lot of special needs kids, competitive kids who are wanting to go to nationals, after-school kids, pre-schoolers, home-school kids, and adults.
"We run a class for gymnasts with Blind or Low Vision, we are in talks with Parafed arranging gymnastics open days for physically disabled kids, and we have private classes for neurodiverse kids that are held in the early afternoon when the gym is quiet."
The new rigging, along with new preschool equipment such as fitness wheel, tumble track and Junior High Bar, was funded by TECT.
Stephanie says the club are appreciative of the $10,373 in TECT funding, particularly after losing funds through other channels last year.
"We are so appreciative of TECT who have come through again for ARGOS Gymnastics Club, helping with much needed new equipment to support our expanding preschool and Ninja programmes which our many members use daily to help them move, grow and succeed.
"Last year, we lost the AIMS Games income and also had to cancel our recreational competition, which is our biggest fundraiser of the year, so that's two massive channels of funding we won't be able to get back.
"We just don't have any money to put into new equipment. We can't set this stuff up without the help of TECT. They are an awesome supporter, and I don't know where our community would be without them."
To learn more about ARGOS Gymnastic Club, visit https://argosgym.co.nz.