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In her Element(z): Celicia McKenzie-McHarg

Ashleigh Went

Rhythmic gymnastics has always been my personal favourite part of the Olympics. I’ve always marvelled at the gymnasts: not only do they possess strength and grace, but the coordination and focus to move in time to music. When I found out that there was a Rhythmic Gymnastics studio in our own city, ran by a former Australian representative gymnast, I jumped at the chance to meet Celicia McKenzie-McHarg and hear all about her career, her love of the sport and of course her studio, Elementz Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Ashleigh: I understand that you’re an Australian representative gymnast yourself, can you tell me how you got to that point?

Celicia: I was actually very fortunate to have the opportunity to represent Australia at the 1999 World Championships. Gymnastics NSW and NSW Institute of Sport were talent scouting in 1998 when I competed at my very first National Championships as a level 7 gymnast in Darwin. They were selecting gymnasts throughout Australia to put together a Senior International group to represent at the 1999 World Championships and ideally gain selection to represent at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Unfortunately we missed out on selection for the Olympics but it was a dream come true to compete at the World Championships in Osaka Japan at the age of 17 and especially only started Rhythmic at the age of 13. At this stage of selection I had only been doing competitive gymnastics for four years but a passion for the sport, dedication and hard work saw me progress quite quickly through the levels.

What do you love the most about gymnastics?

I love everything the sport has to offer. It develops strength, flexibility and fitness. It teaches team work, self-discipline and the power of hard work and dedication. It allows you to express yourself creatively.

How did you start Elementz?

After I retired from competitive Rhythmic Gymnastics I began coaching for my original club – Splitz Gym in 2000. Many years later, in 2007 I had my first child and in 2008 decided to move to Canberra/Yass where my husband had grown up. My husband is one of six boys and his parents now have 19 grandchildren! So we moved south to be around family.

When we moved here one of the first things I did was to search for a club in Canberra to begin coaching. I was stunned to discover that there were no Rhythmic Gymnastics clubs at all in the nation’s capital. This presented an opportunity to me – one that I had really always hoped to live out. And that was to open and run my own Rhythmic Gymnastics centre. In 2009, this became a reality with the opening of Elementz Rhythmic Gymnastics in Yass. Since opening, it has expanded to three venues throughout Canberra – Wanniassa, Belconnen and Gungahlin.

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Photographer: Anastasia Kachalkova

 

 

Can you tell me a bit about the classes that you offer?

We offer classes for all ages and abilities. We have a Jungle Rhythm program for children 2-4 years, then we have Recreational and Competitive programs for children five years and up. Our recreational classes are divided into Beginner and Advanced 5-9 years classes, 10-16years classes and also an adults program. Our competitive program caters for gymnasts moving through the National Levels program from levels one1 though to 10. Also in 2013 we began a development program for gymnasts that we see have potential to eventually one day represent at an International level.

What do you think girls and women have the most to gain by taking up rhythmic gynamastics?

Females of all ages have so much to gain through Rhythmic Gymnastics – our classes aim to provide a positive and supportive environment where each gymnast is encouraged to reach their full potential. Our gymnasts form life long friendships whilst developing strength, flexibility, fitness and coordination. It teaches self expression and improves self esteem. They learn the value of hard work and working towards a goal which is directly reflected in their performances. It teaches so many life long skills and values that can be applied to all aspects of life. What is not to gain and love about our sport?

What have been some highlights for you as the Head Coach/Director?

The main success as club director/head coach has been to watch the club grow and flourish – beginning with only a handful of gymnasts our club has now approximately 120 gymnasts participating across all of our classes. Our aim is to be one of the biggest and most successful clubs within Australia and raise the profile and standard of Rhythmic Gymnastics. One highlight in particular was last year with 2 of our gymnasts from our newly formed development squad competing in the Level 5 Sub Junior division and placing first and second overall at the NSW State Championships.

Do you need a base level of fitness or flexibility to start classes?

Absolutely not. As I mentioned earlier, our classes cater for all ages and abilities which is why Elementz is perfect for novices wanting to give Rhythmic gymnastics a go or for athletes who have experience in a similar sport such as dance, calisthenics or artistic gymnastics. Elementz is for everybody 🙂

The essentials

What: Elementz Rythmic Gymnastics
Where: Locations in Yass, Belconnen, Palmerston and Erindale
Phone: (02) 6112 8460
Web: www.elementz.com.au

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Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author