Tumbling in twos

Siblings create bond through gymnastics


Charles Alspaugh

Freshman Jessica Alspaugh and senior Chris Alspaugh practice bars together at Best Gymnastics on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Freshman Jessica Alspaugh feels the frustration welling inside of her as she struggles to stick the landing of her floor routine for the upcoming practice meet. Senior Chris Alspaugh distantly hears the reprimands of the coaches, pressuring the gymnasts to reach the heights of perfection. He lacks the anxiety that beats through his sister’s heart and instead numbs his other sources of stress as his fingers grip onto the bar, spinning with elegance. Meanwhile, Jessica comes closer and closer to mastering that landing, until she finally does. As they exit the gym, they go home with sores covering their bodies, yet the same tranquil feeling courses through their minds.

Jessica and Chris have been doing gymnastics together since since enrolling into Best Gymnastics at ages 6 and 9 and have been training for nearly a decade since. Both were active as children, participating in other sports such as dance and football, but had already shown interest in the sport even before enrolling in it.

“​When each kid was little, and I suspect most little kids are like this, they both were climbing into and onto everything,” mother Janetta Alspaugh said. “We wanted them to do things and have fun, so we encouraged all sorts of physical activities and gymnastics was one of them, but both kids seemed to love it even before taking classes.”

Both Jessica and Chris are known by peers to be dedicated and hard-working in their school work. Because they participate in other extracurriculars such as orchestra and AP classes, they still have to maintain adequate GPAs by completing their homework and studying, causing gymnastics to become a responsibility on their pile of commitments. Because they joined gymnastics at such a young age, they developed quality time management skills earlier on.

“I value gymnastics equally with all those other things, so it’s just about balancing what you have time for,” Chris said. “You got to set out, you got to say, ‘I want to do this many hours of this a week and this many hours of this a week’ and you just got to stick to your plan.”

Charles Alspaugh
Freshman Jessica Alspaugh and senior Chris Alspaugh practice together at Best Gymnastics on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Although Jessica and Chris both do gymnastics, they participate in different ways. Chris does gymnastics recreationally, practicing in his own time for his pleasure, while Jessica does it competitively, working with a team and a coach, while competing in events. Because competitive gymnastics requires more time commitment, Jessica practices at least 17 hours a week while Chris only practices three to five hours a week. Practicing gymnastics any number of hours a week affects the body either way and comes with risks people may not know about.

“I get really sore after [practice] and I literally cannot stand too long without my back hurting,” Jessica said. “By the time I’m 40 I feel like I’m going to be in a wheelchair.”

Although gymnastics can sometimes seem like a burden, the siblings still enjoy it a lot. They see the benefits of health and strength, along with building skills in teamwork and responsibility. Gymnastics developed a close bond between Chris and Jessica that other siblings don’t share.

“​They are really great with each other,” Janetta said. “They are able to help each other with things in and out of school. They motivate each other to be better people. I think, though it doesn’t always look that way, they are each other’s best friend.”

At home, the siblings are able to communicate with each other with mutual respect toward one another; having like minds and similar interests create a dynamic of closeness between the pair.

“We communicate really well,” Chris said. “We’re on the same wavelength with a lot of things and we influence each other.”