Balancing Act: Preparation for 1st meet at Bowling Green

After we all traveled across the country and overseas to spend our Christmas break with family and friends, we are now back in Anchorage, ready to start our season. We arrived back in town on Dec. 27, and spent the rest of the school break training together as a team and enjoying team activities.

We usually practice four hours a day, five days a week. After a 30-minute warm-up including dynamic stretching, muscle activation exercises and cardiovascular exercises, we split up to go to one of the four events — vault, bars, beam and floor. On each event we have a personalized assignment. My competition routine on floor, for example, consists of a 90 second dance with three tumbling passes and jumps and leaps in between. While I always perform my full routine in a meet, I optimize my routine in practice by working on individual tumbling passes, by doing preparation exercises for my leaps and jumps and by increasing my endurance with so called “sprint routines”, dance routines with sprints instead of tumbling passes. After everyone has finished all the assignments for the events she is performing, we move on to conditioning. Conditioning usually includes a variety of strength and endurance exercises. This can range from pull-ups, legs lifts, push-ups, handstand work, squats and abs exercises, sprints, mat pushes, plyometric training, or a bike workout. We end our practice with team stretching and a “Seawolves” cheer.

On Jan. 8, we had an intrasquad meet in the Alaska Airlines Center, where we were able to prove to our coaches and ourselves that we are ready to start the season. After hitting the gym to make a few minor improvements to our routines, we are confident going into our first meet of the season on the road at Bowling Green, Ohio. On Feb. 6, we are looking forward to presenting our routines at the AAC, with the support of the home crowd.

Balancing Act is a weekly column written by UAA Gymnastics’ Simone Penker on her last season with the Seawolves. After making the All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Team last season, the senior represented her home country of Austria at the World University Games in South Korea –  taking 14th in the all-around competition.