A trip to Woden Valley changed everything for Bob

For Bob Jackson, gymnastics is not about winning medals or achieving personal bests, it is simply about being active and enjoying what he does. 

Gymnastics had not been part of Bob’s life until he and his wife Sharon discovered the sport in 2014 and quickly fell in love with it.

“We saw a notice advertising Naomi Nye’s new over-50s class when we were picking-up grandchildren from the Woden Valley Gym,” Bob noted.

Situated in the western suburbs of Canberra, Woden Valley Gymnastics Club would soon become a second home. A decision that also saw GymSports Director, Naomi Nye, quickly become an important part of both their lives. 

Naomi has been amazed at Bob’s development since he arrived at the club. 

“Since joining our Fitter for Life program, there has been no stopping him. His confidence grew, as did the opportunity to showcase his skills alongside fellow gymnasts and competing in TeamGym, FreeG and Performance Gymnastics.”

Fitter for Life is a gymnastics program designed to get people more active while improving mobility, strength and coordination in a fun and supportive way. 

Bob and Sharon did not want to take part in a class that imposed limits given their age and were over-the-moon when they discovered Woden Valley did the exact opposite.

“It turned out to be an exploration of what we could learn to do and led to us running, jumping, swinging on ropes, tumbling, moving confidently on Balance Beams, and simply enjoying ourselves.

“Sharon and I were at first the only people in the class, but now it’s a thriving enterprise with 15 or so turning up to two classes a week.” 

The pair didn’t stop there. They had their sights set on travelling the world and representing their club in the appropriately named team, Groove and Move Performance.

“Our team represented Australia in the Gym for Life event in Norway in 2017. We were given a silver award and were all absolutely thrilled. 

“Soon after returning home, I was diagnosed with MND and although the progress of the disease has been slow, there has been a perceptible weakening in a number of muscle groups in the last year or so.

“But with the skilled and sympathetic help of Naomi and her fellow coaches at Woden Valley, I am still finding ways to be as active as ever.”

“Initially, Bob attended as he was looking for a way to improve fitness and challenge himself, but now it is important from a self-confidence and social perspective,” Naomi said.

Now 76, Bob has left the performance team but is still keen to take the next step in his journey through gymnastics and has begun by competing in his own right at the inaugural Gymnastics Australia Masters event at the National Clubs Carnival.

“Last year I competed in the FreeG speed run for the first time and came third, out of three,” he quipped. 

The annual Masters Games embodies all that Bob loves about gymnastics, promoting the social aspect of sport, community and most importantly, enjoyment. 

The event allows gymnasts of all ages, levels and abilities to take part in the week-long competition and enjoy some important time with friends. 

For Bob, the ability to take part in FreeG and Tumbling has been exhilarating, something that has opened the world, a sense of new horizons and untapped possibilities.

Looking ahead to 2021, Bob can’t wait to take part in more speed runs and make up for lost time in 2020. 

“Gymnastics has allowed me to find new ways of being myself. It’s been fun.”

Fitter for Life is delivered nationally with the support of the Sport Australia Better Ageing funding program.

To find your local Fitter for Life program, click here.