Little 'ninjas' run, roll, jump with Bay State Gymnastics Academy program

By Tyler A. McNeil | Jul 13, 2018
Photo by: Tyler A. McNeil Seamus Leary confidently pushes through the course with a hand from gymnastics director Rachel Hallett.

Marion — It's like a fun version of bootcamp with a bunch of "ninjas" tumbling over a velcro mat.

That's how Rachel Hallett, director of gymnastics at the Dartmouth-based Bay State Gymnastics Academy, described the new Ninja Warrior class at Tabor Academy. The Bay State-run course was offered to more than 20 children, some of which prefer to be called "ninjas."

"We call them ninjas, too," Hallett said with a laugh.

Like a scaled-down version of the NBC television series “American Ninja Warrior,” hour-long lessons took three groups of students through a series of obstacles. For three weeks, students ran, rolled, jumped, and sometimes landed on both feet.

For Hallett, even imperfect landings signified a victory.

“It’s a big deal,” Hallett said about students overcoming obstacles. “We also celebrate that kind of stuff even if it’s minimal.”

Instructors Hallett and Jamie Wasilowski not only provided students with support, but vice versa. In fact, instructors sometimes changed lesson plans after observing various ways students used the equipment.

For the final lesson on Friday, July 14, students were encouraged to make their own course.

“If it’s not super dangerous, we let it go just because they’re expressing their creativity and we’re encouraging that,” Wasilowski said.

While taking notice of creativity, Hallett has also noticed changes in student's strength, stamina, and agility throughout the course.

“Some of them by the end would be able to achieve an obstacle that was difficult on Monday and by Friday they’re able to do it,” she said.

Ninja Program Director watches Xiran Zhou take on the Kong. (Photo by: Tyler A. McNeil)
Meredith Frois jumps around from mat to mat. (Photo by: Tyler A. McNeil)
Cameron Jackivcz pounces at the next obstacle. (Photo by: Tyler A. McNeil)
Seamus O'Leary flexes his muscles for the camera with some of the students taking a breather. (Photo by: Tyler A. McNeil)
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