It's possible that, after the 2012 Olympics (or even now), your children (especially your daughters) are going to want to enroll in gymnastics lessons. There is no getting around that desire if they've been anywhere near the TV.

Parents all over the country will relent and enroll kids this fall in gymnastics lessons.

A tiny few of those kids will have this particular Olympics be the catalyst for a life-long dream of the Olympic gold. But for the majority of kids out there, it will be at most a passing fancy. So, when they beg for lessons, should you go forth and sign them up? What is your own mission in doing so? Is gymnastics lessons just another in a list of passing interests? If you aren't training an Olympian, what's the value in them?

The Value of Training for Gymnastics (and Other Sports)

Kristina Hardin of Kristina's Gymnastics in Northern California has been running a small, mobile gymnastics program for almost five years. Her program serves the budding young gymnasts of the two rural communities of Quincy and Greenville, California. While most of her students will not go on to the Olympics challenges in the future, she sees gymnastics in the life of a child quite differently. The sport becomes a great self-esteem builder as they slowly master new feats.

"Gymnastics lessons help children learn a variety of skills that you might not think of when you first think of gymnastics. Yes, they get exercise and a workout but they also gain social skills, an appreciation of how hard it is, and the satisfaction of completing goals, and confidence in themselves," said Kristina.

"I found when I was training in gymnastics that it built my confidence not just in gymnastics but how I deal with just about everything in my life," she said. Kids begin to build trust in themselves and their abilities and their coaches. The constant drilling and practicing in the gym means they'll be ready to apply those skills to other situations. The repetition and training helps instill strong work ethic in young people.

"Gymnastics training also carries over into other sports. In gymnastics, the athlete learns strength and flexibility," Kristina added. This comes in handy when children go off to soccer, football, ballet, basketball and any sport or dance where they might have to rely on quick, precise moves. In some ways, it becomes an investment in children's physical education future.

But for these next two weeks, many of Kristina's students seem to be learning just how hard some of those moves on TV are. They have great appreciation for summersault performed on a balance beam. "It's hard enough to do a perfect summersault and walk on the balance beam," says one of Kristina's seven-year-old students, "watching the Olympic trials where those girls were doing multiples on the beam was amazing."

Training for Fitness, Training for Life

When we see those balance beam and floor stunts and uneven bar performances on our TV screens, it looks remarkable; those graceful gymnasts have a way of making their routines look effortless. Our passive TV-watching makes us into unofficial judges and we, too, pick apart the performances even though we ourselves could never do even 1/8 of what those athletes are doing. But America's youthful gymnasts know better.

Who knows? Maybe the kid in the next room begging for lessons is the next Olympic hopeful. Or maybe the discipline of the gymnastics will make her a CEO.