Tuesday, May 24, 2005
  GYMNASTICS INSTRUCTORS FOCUSING ON HEALTHY BODY IMAGES (CLEVELENAD NEWS NET 5)

Report by Cleveland News Net 5

Splashed on every magazine are models who are thin, with promises of how we too can get that dream body.

But for some young girls, these images can have a very negative effect, reported NewsChannel5's Sue Ann Robak.

Robak: "What do you think when you see a girl like that?"

Abby Ashley, 15: "I think she's gorgeous. Wish I had that body."

Andrea Kinzer, 14: "That they're really skinny. I think they're really pretty but I don't have to look like them."

But when a specialist sees the same pictures, it's different viewpoint

"If I saw her, I would think about hospitalizing her -- definitely meets a weight criteria for anorexia," said Dr. Leslie Weiner.

Gymnastics is a sport that has long been linked with body image and eating disorders.

But that's changing at Gymnastics World in Brecksville, where young women are taught not only the physical skills to succeed but also mental lessons about eating healthy.

"We discuss that food serves a purpose, it overrides a feeling of dieting to be thin," said owner Ron Gagim.

But it wasn't always that way. Dominique Moceanu is now a gymnastics instructor. She reached the highest level of her career in the 1996 Olympic games, where she won a gold medal.

Now on the other side, she's seen the positive steps that have been taken in gymnastics but remembers how different it was when she was training. "Especially at the elite level, you have to be in perfect shape -- (it was) stressed very, very, much when I was very young, so I had many encounters with, 'watch what you eat' and diet," said Moceanu.

While Moceanu understands the need to be fit for gymnastics, finding a balance between being slim to compete and not going overboard is the challenge gymnasts face. In fact, it's a fine line women in general try to tread.

"You want to be physically fit, whether it's in gymnastics or not, it's an issue all girls go through," said Moceanu. 







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