5 April 2017

Michelle Ranieri Q&A: FreeG

Following the FreeG Course that was conducted at High Flyers on Sunday 2 April, Matthew Jennings (Gymnastics WA Communications Coordinator) caught up with FreeG Presenter Michelle Ranieiri for her take on the new and exciting program that clubs are able to have running in their club.  
What is FreeG?
FreeG is a dynamic new initiative encompassed by gymnastics for all. It is a combination of Parkour, Free Running and Tricking, brought into a gymnastics arena. Skills are divided into 4 ‘apparatus’ Vaulting, Floor, Wall, and Bar. Each apparatus has different levels of skills that are given a difficulty rating indicated by a colour system. 

How is it different/unique?
FreeG is a unique element to gymnastics as it allows athletes incredible amount of creativity and exploration of their abilities and skills. FreeG athletes are encouraged to create new skills/combinations, find skills through other mediums bringing them into the gym, and experience success in every class.

Why is it exciting?
This is an exciting opportunity for participants and coaches to explore new areas of our sport in a creative format. The chance for participants to experience parkour/free running/tricking in an indoor setting allows for safe learning of skills rarely seen in a gymnastics arena.

We have the opportunity here to tailor more of our programs to a huge array of demographics, that otherwise may not have considered gymnastics an option. It also allows further options for existing gymnasts who may be looking for an alternative outlet.

We can see the benefits of the program through retaining athletes that otherwise would leave the sport entirely, while also bringing in a completely new set of athletes to the sport. 
How was the recent course, what were the coaches like?
The FreeG course held on April 2nd was great. It was the second course run here in WA and it is so fantastic to see so many clubs and coaches getting on board with the initiative. Every coach who has attended the FreeG course in WA has brought to it new insights into why this program is beneficial, and how it can be implemented in any club.

The coaches in attendance have been enthusiastic about the opportunities provided by the program and have been so willing to share personal experience and knowledge. These courses become fantastic opportunities for skill sharing between coaches, giving each course a unique feel and outcome. 

How do you get involved or why should you get involved?
This is a great time to capitalise on the recent surge of parkour/free running/tricking popularity. As a club, it allows for a wider base of potential clients, and as a participant it allows for safe learning of the skills you see all over social media, and the potential to create your own skills.

If you are interested in coaching FreeG or implementing a FreeG program in your club, come along to a future FreeG coaching course and learn all about it!

If you are interested in participating in FreeG, contact your nearest Free G club.

What is happening with Rockingham PCYC and FreeG?
Rockingham PCYC is running a Youth Engagement Scheme in collaboration with GWA.

GWA is providing a FreeG class on Saturday nights at the PCYC. Youth from the area will meet for a meal at the centre and be provided different workshops by businesses and services. Following dinner and the workshops the participants will engage in a FreeG program before being taken home by bus. A number of participants will be selected to participate in beginners coaching courses, giving them opportunity for future employment within gymnastics.

This scheme is designed to engage youth who would otherwise have no safe social outlet on a Saturday evening/night. 

Who can do FreeG?
Anyone can do FreeG!

Why did you get involved in FreeG?
I became involved in FreeG as an extension of my interest in Gymnastics for All. I felt that Gymnastics for All should, by its very definition, strive to make our sport accessible to all reaches of our communities. After attending a course in Sydney, I was struck by what a fantastic opportunity this initiative was, to fill one of the gaps in gymnastics that I had identified.

What do you enjoy most about the program?
I love that FreeG fosters independence, confidence and, above all, creativity. Athletes are rewarded for creativity and the sport has endless possibilities because of its creative nature.

The sport can evolve and adapt to its participants, and there are no limits to what can be created or achieved. The freedom for athletes to explore and create is such a valuable prospect for athletes.

What is the coolest trick/skill can you explain?
Well, since the boundaries are pretty limitless, I imagine I haven’t seen even a tiny percentage of what awesome tricks could be created and achieved. Though in the course presented there are a few skills that appeal to me because they are so unique or challenging.

The Corkscrew is a running salto that has a full twist when the athlete is parallel to the floor, making it quite different to skills we see in other gymsports. Corkscrew is rated as a black skill, so is one of the most advanced elements taught on the Free G course.

I also really love a couple of the simpler skills for their flexible boundaries, so they are easily achieved and can be developed into some awesome variations. A few examples being the reverse vault and palm spin. 
For more information on FreeG please visit the FreeG website http://www.freeg.org.au/