PRGA and Rhythmic Gymnastics
THE FOUNDER, CHIEF COACH AND JUDGE – MRS. VARSHA UPADHYE
Mrs. Varsha Upadhye has represented India as an International Judge at various international competitions till date. Being the first Indian woman to have completed the coaches’ course, appeared and passed the judging exams and start the first Rhythmic Gymnastics academy in Mumbai, she has been associated with this sport for over 35 years now.
Varsha Tai was felicitated with the prestigious Shiv Chhatrapati Award for gymnastics in 1989 – 1990 followed by the “Excellence in Coaching” award in 2011-2012. Almost about 14 of her students have participated in international competitions as a part of Team India. For the last 5 years She has been working as the manager of the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex in Dharavi, Mumbai.
After having witnessed the amalgamation of music, dance and gymnastics in one sport, she was instantly absorbed in its magic especially after being a gymnast myself! After attending many international events, She realized that there was no full-fledged streamlined early training for Rhythmic in India and that’s when she decided to start my own academy – Premier Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy (PRGA) in 2008. Working with Jet Airways had taught her a sense of discipline and important communication/people skills that prepared her to manage starting her own academy, especially at a time when nobody was a front runner in this country, in this particular field of sport.
The aim of this academy has been to promote training in rhythmic gymnastics from a younger age and popularize the importance of fitness among young girls. This in turn would result in students participating at District, State, National and International Championships.
At first, finding an open space in a city like Mumbai was a tough task but with time the academy has grown strength to strength and is now conducting classes at 5 different locations in Mumbai – From an open terrace to a sports complex.
She quotes, “The continuous growth of my students and their passion for the game motivates me every single day. My aim was to promote the game and create a strong base for the future generations to take the game forward. The fact that I need to create a bigger platform to support and promote this great talent inspires me to go out and work harder for my students.
I know the effort that goes into each player’s training, having experienced it myself from a younger age. The players need better equipment, training centers, practice stadiums, nutrition consultation, funding and support and much more! Every day is a battle to fight all odds and this fight is what has made me who I am today and will continue to be the reason why this sport will keep growing further. My students are my inspiration and the promotion of this beautiful sport, my motivation”
Today, her academy stands stronger with more than 200 students including international players, judges and coaches representing India at world championships, Commonwealth games and national competitions.
RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS – an amalgamation of music, dance, gymnastics!
Rhythmic Gymnastics is a women oriented Olympic recognized sport performed on music with hand held apparatus. It has only recently grown in India in the past few years and is still a relatively new sport as compared to mainstream sporting events. In India this sport is played at school, district, zonal, state, national and international level.
It is a discipline which improves Strength, Flexibility, Balance, Agility, Eye-Hand Co-Ordination, Expression, Grace, Self Esteem, Fun and Healthy Lifestyle that a gymnast will sustain for lifetime. It is a perfect combination of dance to music using different steps and moves while juggling with their hand-held apparatus. It’s a great activity for women of any age group to shape up and develop firm tone all while expressing uniquely and creatively.
There are five different exercises in rhythmic gymnastics: the rope, the ribbon, the ball, the hoop and the clubs.
- Rope – Skipping is the main feature of rope work, gymnasts also swing the rope and perform various types of throws and catches.
- Ribbon – The gymnast makes spectacular moving patterns like snakes, spirals, circles on the floor and even in the air, also long throws and catches can be performed.
- Ball – The ball must not be held only carefully balanced by the performer as she gracefully bounces, rolls on different parts of the body, swings, throws and catches it.
- Hoop – Gymnasts can swing or spin the hoop round their bodies, also different types of rolls and handling can be performed with the hoop. They can also perform throws and catches and even pass through it.
- Clubs – The greatest test of skill and strength is required for the perfect handling of the clubs. The movements like circles and mills can be performed with the clubs.
- Rhythmic Group Gymnastics, performed by teams of five, perform intricate routines using multiple apparatus at the same time.
- Motion and creativity characterize Rhythmic Group routines, where many things are often happening at the same time.
- Combining the elegance of the ballet with the drama of the theater, Rhythmic Group Gymnastics bursts with glamour, blurring the boundaries between sport and art.
- Similar to the Rhythmic Individual gymnasts, Rhythmic Group gymnasts strive to enchant judges and audiences with the polish of their exercises while executing enormously difficult maneuvers with one of four handheld apparatus: the Hoop, Ball, pair of Clubs and Ribbon.
Each Group shall present one exercise with 5 same apparatus ( e.g 5 pairs of Clubs) and the other one with combination of two kinds of apparatus (e.g. 3 Balls + 2 Ribbons).