Gymnastics Australia's Body Positive Guidelines supporting athlete and community wellbeing

Continuing the important work in the area of Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement, Gymnastics Australia has updated the Body Positive Guidelines.

Originally released in 2019 to much international acclaim, the Guidelines reinforce Gymnastics Australia’s stance that all gymnasts, coaches, families, judges, and staff should have a training and work environment where all body shapes and sizes are treated with care and respect.

The Guidelines aim to set clear boundaries on what is acceptable language, communication and behaviour for coaches, parents, support and administrative staff when working with gymnasts of all ages, genders and training levels.

Highlighting the risks of developing poor body image, disordered eating, eating disorders and mental health issues during a gymnast’s time participating in gymnastics and in the years following, the Guidelines have been updated to recognise the AIS’ Disordered Eating Framework released last month.

Gymnastics Australia’s National Performance Director, Andrew Logan, believes gymnastics has taken a leadership role within the broader sporting landscape by developing this important resource.

“Optimising performance and minimising harm to all gymnasts, staff and the organisation are at the core of these guidelines and we will continue to provide guidance, education and leadership to our members in order to maintain their wellbeing,” said Logan.

“There is no doubting that for many in elite sport, there may be a correlation between body composition and athletic performance, but it is important that we recognise that it is not the only factor.

“Poor communication style, choice of words, timing of feedback, processes to monitor body composition and off the cuff comments on how we fuel the body can be impactful and potentially have a deleterious effect on self-esteem and self-image, long after one’s involvement within the sport has ended.

Developed by Gymnastics Australia Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Manager, Steph Moorhouse and in partnership with Sports Dietitian and Director of The Mindful Dietitian and Body Positive Australia, Fiona Sutherland, the guidelines are designed to support the nuances of all the GymSports.

“Through the guidelines, we want to foster an environment where young people, at all levels of sport are invited to feel most positively about their bodies,” said Sutherland.

“Coaches are really important role models and are some of the most influential adults in a gymnast’s life. We know how much coaches genuinely care for their gymnasts so one of the key messages is - what you say and do matters.”

“Gymnastics in an incredible way to celebrate what the body can do. We want young people to feel like their bodies are valuable and worthy and that starts with how we talk about them. “

“When people at all levels of the sport start to view bodies with care and respect is when we will start to see more positive health and wellbeing outcomes for athletes.”

Gymnastics Australia commits to continue to work with the AIS, Fiona Sutherland and other sporting organisations to ensure athlete health and safety is and always will be our number one priority.

For more information on the Body Positive Guidelines, please click here.