Wheelchair Games are coming

2012-Paralympics-Quad Rugby

Well, now that we’ve finished watching the Red Bull Wake competitors fly through the air and (occasionally) crash into the water, TampaSportsFitness wants to highlight another unique sporting event coming to town.

Starting July 13, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games will be taking place in Downtown Tampa.

A multi-event sports and rehabilitation program for military service Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or other neurological disorders, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games serves as the largest annual wheelchair sports event in the world. The Games will be attracting more than 500 athletes to the Downtown Tampa area, as well as additional off-site venue locations July 13- July 18.

Events at this year’s Games will include swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, archery, air guns, basketball, boccia, nineball, softball, quad rugby, bowling, handcycling, trapshooting, wheelchair slalom, power soccer, a motorized wheelchair rally, track and field. Exhibition events are also being planned. Athletes will compete in all events against others with similar athletic ability, competitive experience, or age.

And as a bonus, these competitions will be absolutely free for anyone wanting to watch. Yes, free.

There’s already been a fair amount of excitement building for this event (Tampa Bay Times did this story on the event), but TampaSportsFitness wanted to highlight this event for two reasons: it’s a free local event involving some of the most unique athletes in the world, and TampaSportsFitness is a huge fan of quad rugby. The Tampa area already has its own team, the Tampa Generals, that has been competing on an international level since 1989 and providing some fantastic entertainment for fans of the sport. Plus, Murderball was a great movie.

Anyone planning on going?

Archery? Wakeboarding? Must be Summertime!

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In its youth, the TampaSportsFitness staff took pride in participating in outdoor summer activities. Field days, camping trips, canoes sinking; all staples of outdoor life in the bay area. And now that summer has officially returned to the bay area, it brings a collection of sports with it.

We here at TampaSportsFitness like to bring you stories of out-of-the-norm sports and fitness activities. And what could be more out of the norm than shooting things with a thousand-year-old piece of technology or flying through the air on a wakeboard?

We’re talking about archery, that activity you did in P.E. class in middle school or maybe once or twice at summer camp, and it’s on the rise. According to this AP story, archery has been experiencing a dramatic uptick of popularity in the last few years. While the 2012 Olympics can claim some credit for that, popular culture has been so saturated with the weapon that it’s almost impossible not to see the things everywhere. And we don’t just mean Katniss Everdeen and Hawkeye here; archery has television shows like Game of Thrones and Arrow in a headlock.

There are several archery ranges and classical weapons instructors in the bay area, but for anyone looking for an excuse to shoot something other than the traditional round target, The Gasparilla Bowmen will be hosting a 3-D Archery Shoot at the Lake Park Archery Area on Sunday, June 23, at 8 a.m., 17302 N. Dale Mabry in Lutz. All ages are invited to participate at the low cost of $2 per vehicle up to eight people per car. The Bowmen will provide 3-D targets ranging from bears to turkeys. Participants are required to bring their own archery equipment.

For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, 3-D archery basically involves moving through a range, preferably in the woods, and shooting at targets made to look like animals. So for anyone looking to practice shooting a buck, the event promises to be fun. The TampaSportsFitness staff thinks it would be even better if 3-D archery were combined with a cross-country obstacle course like a biathlon, only without the skis since we don’t get snow in the bay area.

Speaking of outdoor activities, the Red Bull Wake Open will be making its way back to Tampa in a few weeks when some of the best wakeboarders in the world will showcase their talents July 5-6 at the Tampa Convention Center. According to the event’s website, 36 riders representing seven countries will compete in Boat, Big Air, and Park disciplines.

Just like last year, spectators can see the event live as viewing locations are available around the Channel including the Tampa Convention Center and Knights Point at Harbour Island. And also like last year, the event will also be televised live on July 6 at 4:00 p.m. on NBC.

So who’s in?

Triathlon For Kids Coming

While the staff of TampaSportsFitness continues to deal with the dual disappointments of the Lightning’s road record and the removal of wrestling as an Olympic sport, it was suggested by our editor that we go find something to write about that would cheer everyone up.  And boy, did we ever.

Now, TampaSportsFitness covers a great deal of running events.  We do this for a number of reasons: the bay area weather allows for almost year-round running events, the scenery is wonderful and it emphasizes the notion that running is good  for you while biking and swimming is good for you yet more challenging.  But TampaSportsFitness also likes to cover offbeat races, such as Tough Mudder and numerous zombie runs that have been making more and more of an appearance lately.  And this past week we received notice of an event that piqued our curiosity something fierce.

With that, TampaSportsFitness wants all of our readers to know about the inaugural Tampa Bay Kids Triathlon at (wait for it) Adventure Island on Saturday, March 9, at 7 a.m.

How cool is this?

The event, hosted on Adventure Island season-opening day prior to the park opening at 10 a.m., provides youth the opportunity to run, bike, and swim in and around Busch Gardens’ water park.

Focusing on children ages 7-10 (junior varsity division) and 11-15 (varsity division), entrants will receive an Under Armour participant T-shirt, a finisher’s medal, as well as the opportunity to purchase Adventure Island single day admission tickets at a discounted cost (up to six), to be able to enjoy the park after the triathlon.

The course for both divisions will be the same, although the varsity division has to loop through each area twice.  Starting in the park, participants will swim through the Rambling Bayou lazy river before transitioning to bikes and racing to the Busch Gardens parking lot down the road (using Greenwood Avenue to avoid the traffic on 40th Street).  After riding around the exterior of the lot, riders make their way back to the park for a run around the field behind Adventure Island and ending in the volleyball courts.

Registration fees are $35 per participant in advance and $40 on the day of the race.  The registration packet will be available for pickup on Friday, March 8, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the registration tent across the street from the event parking lot on Bougainvillea Avenue.  Participants are encouraged to pick up their packet and drop off their bikes on Friday to avoid the Saturday morning congestion (registration pickup on Saturday starts at 5:30 a.m.).  Overnight security will be provided.  After a review for participants at 6:45 a.m., the race will get underway at 7 a.m.

So what’s got TampaSportsFitness so excited?  In addition to being a child’s event that encourages physical and outdoor activity, it combines a triathlon with one of the bay area’s signature destinations during one of the best times to be outdoors (provided the weather cooperates, of course).  Anyone interested can contact Claire  Lessinger at 813-342-4075, or CLessinger@VisitTampaBay.com.

So how about it, dear readers?  Any takers for this event?

Events Roundup for February 2013

Ah….it’s been a long time since I created an events roundup article for this site. I have been extremely busy lately an I almost gave up on this site at one point (shamefully admitting). I’ve been thinking: why I did I start this site in the first place? I started this website to help people and to bring people together. I also started this website because I wanted to meet other people who enjoy running just as much as me. ButI never bothered to Google “Tampa Bay running groups” back when I first started this site. If I did, then perhaps I wouldn’t be here writing this article. Well, this is a new year, and I’m planning on making this site go back to it’s roots…

Well in the meantime and with out further ado , here is another unique set of sports and fitness related events that I think are worth mentioning here:

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Hog Wild Run – $75

When:  Saturday, February 16th @ 11:59 PM

Website: http://www.hogwildmudrun.com/

Yes, this one is in two days,  but it’s not too late to sign up for it. If you like the 80s and if you wouldn’t mind getting stuck in mud or in a 80’s dance off, then this run just might be for you.  Honestly, I’m torn between running in this run or going to an Indian Film Festival this weekend!

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikon_dean_3000/

 

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Tampa Bay Gasparilla Half Marathon – $85.00

When: Sunday, February 24th @ 6:00 AM

Website: http://www.tampabayrun.com/

Contrary to what I use to think, the celebration for Gasparilla doesn’t end in early February  after the adult parade. It also didn’t end after last weekend’s Knights parade in Ybor. Oh no… it continues with these runs, so it’s possible to get your pirate on in late February if you wanted to. Arghhh!

Gasparilla 15k and 5k  – $30

When: Saturday, February 23rd  @  9:00 AM and 10:10 AM

Website: http://www.tampabayrun.com/

Throwdownbythepier

2nd Annual Fitness Throwndown by the Pier – $65/athlete

Do you like Crossfit? This is a relatively new event I just “noticed”. I haven’t been to it myself but I have to admit, it does look interesting.

When: Saturday, February 16th and Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Website: http://www.crossfittecnica.com/throw-down-on-the-pier

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Meet Kayak Adventurer Daniel Alvarez

When: Thursday,  February 21st – 22nd @ 4:30 PM 

Website: http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/event-details/22570/meet-kayak-adventurer-daniel-alvarez

I have to say , I wasn’t sure if I should list this one here. After all it sounds like an indoor event where people will sit around all evening listening to some guy speak. Not only that, the chances of them serving beer afterwords is very slim…. but I’m including this one here,  because people actually like Kayaking! Yes, believe it or not (well I believe it at least), people will want to meet this guy so they can learn more about kayaking and to learn how to be a better kayaker!

Hopefully these events sound appealing to you. If not, then feel free to let us know how we could improve these articles via the comments section below. 

 

Keeping Those New Year’s Fitness Goals

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Alrighty, it’s the end of January, which also signals the end of football (damn), the end of not having to do your taxes (double damn), and the beginning of the end of that New Year’s resolution to get in shape.

It was noticeable when January arrived in the bay area, the gyms filled up after work and the zumba classes went back to capacity. TampaSportsFitness applauds those who made the commitment to get/stay fit in 2013, but we get that joining a gym may not be for everybody. There’s a whole host of statistics that point out that most people who own gym memberships don’t use them, and a majority of those that do use them only make it to the gym two times a week.

The reasons? Oh, there are so many: time, gym location, crowd size, general intimidation, and various doubts and insecurities ranging from wanting to avoid embarrassment to not wanting to use the locker room shower, all of which are valid but detrimental to health goals.

To that end, TampaSportsFitness would like to offer a few suggestions on getting healthy for the new year that don’t involve the gym:

1. Portion Control. We know, we know; nobody likes being told how much they can eat. So here’s a simple idea: eat until you’re full. That’s it. Not full to bursting, just full.

2. Drink More (Water). TampaSportsFitness does not subscribe to the argument that drinking more will make you less hungry. The argument that proper hydration goes hand-in-hand with a healthy diet, on the other hand, gets top-shelf priority around here. So drink up. In fact, do it more. Having a soda with lunch? Have some water instead. If you want a little more flavor, replace the water with green tea. Just pass on the extra cream and sugar.

3. Get Outdoors. This one’s a no-brainer. It’s early in the year, the weather is still nice, and the bay area has no shortage of parks and sites conducive to walking/running. Plus, no gym costs.

4. Try Something Early. Early morning exercise gives the benefit of energy before the day begins. It does involve kicking yourself out of bed earlier in the morning, but the trade-off might be worthwhile if you’ve got a long day ahead of you.

5. Try Something Late. Working a 9 to 5 shift and not looking forward to the drive home? Easy; use that time after work to exercise. You’ll avoid the worst of rush hour and still make it home in time for dinner.

6. Stairs and Blocks. Instead of heading to the break room, go for a walk on the stairs in your office. Don’t have stairs? Walk around your building. Again, it’s still nice outside, so take advantage of it while you can. Once May arrives it’ll be impossible.

Anyone else out there have gym-free suggestions for the new year?

A Pirate Run, and Should There Be Beer Afterwards?

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A new year in Tampa Bay usually means the imminent arrival of pirates, but here at TampaSportsFitness, it also means a reason to get back to running ASAP. Not because the numerous fitness resolutions have suddenly made the gyms very popular, but because running pirates will soon descend upon the bay area.

Yes, the 2013 Gasparilla Distance Classic fast approaches, and like last year the race course puts both runners and adoring crowds within easy access of proof that God loves us and he wants us to be happy.

As part of the weekend of events with the Gasparilla Distance Classic, this year’s run also includes three racing challenges sponsored by beer manufacturers. The Michelob Ultra Challenge consists of running the 15K, 5K, Half Marathon and 8K. In addition to the individual event runner premiums, those choosing to partake of the challenge get a bunch of medals, shirts, and other assorted goodies if they finish.

Likewise, the Beck’s Light Challenge will be just like the Michelob Ultra Challenge, but without the Gasparilla 8K. And the Select 55 Challenge will be like the Michelob Ultra Challenge and Beck’s Light Challenge, but without the Gasparilla 5K and Half Marathon 15K on Saturday and 8K on Sunday. Further details on those events can be found here.

In a bit of sly-though-probably-not-intentional, these beer-sponsored challenges come off as a wink and nod to the Gasparilla Pirate Festival itself, where the term “inebriated” gets thrown around like a bead necklace.

But while drinking and long-distance running may seem an odd pairing, these beer-sponsored races piqued the interest of TampaSportsFitness, mostly because we’ve noticed the trend of beer in and around races lately. Both the Tough Mudder and Zombie Runs held late in 2012 offered a free beer upon completion of their courses. And TampaSportsFitness documented the existence of running clubs that go out for a beer upon completion of their run.

Granted, both Tough Mudder and the Zombie Run are more long-distance obstacle courses than traditional distance races. And while a free brew is not one of the prizes being offered for finishing the GDC, it did get us wondering if partaking of a brew so soon after running a long distance was really a good idea.

The result: most agree that drinking a beer right after running a long distance probably isn’t the best idea, or at least not until you put something else in the tank first. But some evidence was offered on the benefits of some lager during training.

What do you think, gentle readers? Anyone participating in the GDC? And does anyone know more about beer in a runner’s diet?

Whole Foods and Zombies (not what you think!)

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So now that Thanksgiving is out of the way, we can all go back to our healthy eating habits, yes?

Nuh uh. Every year the human interest and health stories line up to remind us that we all exercise bad eating habits during the holiday season. This used to mean just the area of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but can now also include Halloween since that’s when the candy bars start appearing in office break rooms.

Is this truly horrible? Of course not; sweets are fine in moderation. But if you’ve got plans to participate in a high-impact obstacle course (Tough Mudder approaches; plan accordingly) or just generally want to avoid the sweatpants this season, this is the time you will be most tempted.

Here in the Tampa Bay area, we are fortunate to have a shortage of health food stores to aid us in the time of pumpkin pie and sugar cookies. There are two Whole Foods stores, one at 1548 North Dale Mabry Highway, the other at 3802 Northdale Boulevard; a Publix Greenwise Market on West Azeele, and an assortment of nutrition stores.

Unfortunately, all evidence to the contrary, healthy eating habits have never been a sexy subject, and it becomes even tougher to discuss good eating during the holidays when everyone is encouraging you to indulge yourself.

So TampaSportsFitness had to find a way to make healthy eating exciting. And what better encouragement can one have for proper nutrition, in this day and age, than to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse?

Unlike most other fitness websites who are urging you to eat less and avoid sweets during the holiday season (which is a good idea anyway), TampaSportsFitness has confirmed the date and time of the impending march of the lurchers, and there’s good news: there’s still time to register for it. Which means there’s also time to train for it.

The 5K Zombie Run will take place on Saturday, December 22 (assuming the Mayans are wrong and we’ll still be here) starting at 9 a.m. at the Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City. Similar to the Tough Mudder, the runner selects a start time and attempts to clear a 3.1-mile run through an obstacle course. The marketable difference, however, rests with the Zombie Run requiring participants to dodge hordes of wandering zombies, who will in turn be attempting to stop them. It’s kind of like flag football, if the end zone was 3.1 miles away, the other team lurched, and they didn’t care about the football so much as they did trying to eat your brains.

You have two choices for this race: running (listed on the registration as “bait,” so fair warning) or as a member of the undead. Those choosing to be zombies will have the option of being made up to look the part by race staff; those opting to be bait should not wear baggy clothes, as it will slow them down via wind drag and give the zombies something to latch on to.

Every participant will begin with three flags, each representing a “life.” Anyone who crosses the finish line with at least one flag intact will be able to say, without a doubt, that they could survive an actual zombie apocalypse, which should trump most water cooler arguments that involve pop culture. Please note, however, that the 5K Zombie Run will not be an actual apocalypse, so runners will not be allowed to bring any of the prescribed anti-zombie tools (chainsaws, crossbows, axes, etc.) to deal with the horde.

According to the website, all registrants receive a T-shirt, finisher’s medal, and entry to the post-race Apocalypse party complete with music, and food. Zombies, corpses, and course conquerors can toast to their survival or tragic defeat with an ice cold brew (ages 21 and up), or refuel with a bevy of other tasty bites and beverages. Also, zombies will be eligible to run the course after they have completed their duty as an undead obstacle. Minimum age is 14 with a parental waiver for this race.

Online registration at the5kzombierun.com closes Dec. 20 unless it sells out first, but there will be no registrations on race day. So if you want in on this, better do it soon. The registration prices are: $90 5K runner; $60 zombie horde. You can buy extra life flags for runners at $10 each. Spectators require a $25 ticket, or get a spectator ticket for $12.50 if purchased at the same time as a runner or zombie registration. Parking is $10 for all, including volunteers.

So, anyone up for running for their lives?

Training for Tough Mudder

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Like the article we posted last week about Tough Mudder? So did our other fans. And since there’s still space for the December 2012 Tough Mudder event in Tampa, we thought we’d post some training tips for anyone looking to participate.

Think two months isn’t enough time? Not so; if you get started now, you can be ready to go come December. A quick reminder: Tough Mudder presents one of the toughest challenges to anyone willing (read: crazy) to attempt it. Train seriously and stay focused.

Be ready to go the distance, but don’t train for a marathon

1. Tough Mudder’s website encourages participants to be able to run 5 miles before attempting the course, which usually runs between 12-13 miles. If that math isn’t making sense to you, remember that Tough Mudder is not a race but an obstacle course, and you don’t get any prizes for crossing the finish line first (unless you count being the first person to have a beer a prize, which is understandable).

Get away from the treadmill

2.  At no point during Tough Mudder will your ability to run three miles on a stationary platform whilst watching Fox News or ESPN come into play. Get outdoors and put treads to the ground. As Tough Mudder calls upon one’s ability to navigate questionable terrain, the best place to go running would be on beaches or anyplace with hills or uneven ground. Given the bay area’s geography, hills may not be an option. Stick with parks and nature trails like the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.

Hit the pool, or at least jump into one

3.  Running through mud pools may be helpful training for first-hand experience, but as several events on the Tough Mudder course involve fighting through water, the pool might be a more hygienic offering for preparation. Try running in the pool to get used to moving in high waters. You’ve seen it done in sport shoe commercials, so give it a shot.

Get functional

4. We all think the Incredible Hulk is awesome, but Tough Mudder will call your entire body into duty to make it through, so let your strength training become integral to how you move. Try exercises that don’t necessarily involve heavy weights. Circuit training is your friend. So is the pull-up bar. Being able to bench press anything over 250 lbs is outstanding; being able to do that AND pull guys up a platform is the stuff of legend.

Get ready to deal with the cold

5. This one might be a challenge in Florida, where people put on heavy winter coats when the temperature drops below 70. Since a winter afternoon in Boston isn’t accessible for training purposes, some competitors have prepared for the run by dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads before getting to work. TampaSportsFitness does not necessarily recommend this, but it’s better than having a friend run behind you with a water gun filled with the cold stuff. Especially if you owe them money.

There will be sweat. And water. And various other elemental stuff

6.  Wear old clothes (preferably something that won’t absorb water) and say goodbye to at least one pair of shoes. Don’t worry; you can donate your shoes to a worthy cause.

We also recommend you check out Outside Magazine’s list of training tips or visit Tough Mudder’s website for circuit training workouts tailor-made for everyone.

So, who’s in?

Mud on the Run

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When it comes to physical fitness events, there can be a feeling of “been there, done that” involved in the excitement level. Running a marathon? Popular activity in the bay area: they have one scheduled almost every weekend around here. Obstacle course? Nature’s Boot Camp on Dale Mabry has that covered. Calisthenics while being yelled at? So many military boot camp-style workout groups to choose from it’s not even funny.

So for anyone seeking something a little more challenging (re: potentially dangerous), TampaSportsFitness heartily recommends the Tough Mudder challenge.

And it’s a challenge, mind you, not a race. Author Josh Eells summed it up best in his article on Tough Mudder that appeared in the October 2012 edition of Men’s Journal: a 10- to12-mile cross-country trail, dotted with 20 or so military-style obstacles. Participants are treated to a beer and a free shirt at the end of the course. The goal is to finish: no medals are given to the people who cross the finish line, and the guys charging ahead are usually the crazy ones.

There’s a reason the course is called “mudder,” too: most of the obstacles involve either running or crawling through the stuff. The course laid out for Tampa will include the Swamp Stomp, where participants go waist deep in the stuff; Dirty Holes and the Trenches. Oh, and there will also be a 15 foot drop into cold water (Walk the Plank, oddly fitting for Tampa), a mountain of haystacks to climb, and a run through a field of live wires, some of which will be carrying a 10,000 volt jolt.

Excited? Us too.

Tough Mudder has been striking a chord among the functional fitness trend that’s popped up in the last few years, with programs like P90X, Insanity, and CrossFit gyms. What’s the point of being able to bench press 400 lbs if you can’t use that strength to, say, help push a man up a wall and then climb up yourself?

According to Eells’ article, Tough Mudder started three years ago as a one-time project and has spawned a number of similar races like the Warrior Dash and the Spartan Race. It’s now the most popular of the functional fitness courses that travel around the world and challenge anyone willing to sign the waiver and tromp through the elements to prove how tough they are.

Because that’s what these courses are about. Participants who make it through have the privilege of knowing they survived a three-hour ordeal where they dealt with a dumpster full of ice water (Arctic Enema), a climb of a slope so high and steep they needed to rely on the other guys running the course to ascend it (Cliff Hanger), and a pleasant job through a field with four-foot flames serving as the primary obstacle (Fire Walker).

How popular is this three-year-old event? So popular that it’s making two appearances in Tampa, one in December 2012 and again in 2013. Crossfit Sparta on Nebraska (which we may have talked about before) has a training program set up for those that want to attempt the course.

Anyone going? There were still spots open for the December run when we last checked. Cost is $125, a day on the course and probably a set of workout clothes and a pair of shoes.

Events Roundup for October 2012

Okay, are you looking for something to do this weekend? Check out some of these events:

Archtober – Free

When: Friday, October 5th @ 1:00 PM

This friday, local architects in the Tampa Bay area will be hosting an event called Discover Design Architecture Tour. During this event, they will lead you on a guided tour of Tampa’s most interesting buildings in Downtown Tampa. This will be a 50-minute walk so get out your walking shoes!

Mud Endeavor 5K Run –  $69.95

When: Saturday, October 6th @ 9:00 AM

Do you not like how much it is to sign-up? Well, $69.95 is a lot of money but I have a feeling it’s going to be worth it. This is another mud run with several obstacles but this one looks by far the most challenging and fun mud run I have seen this year (then again Tough Mudder might out do this one).  I would check out the pictures they have on their website, you will see what I mean. You can expect beer and live music at this event, so that’s a plus, right? right?

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Dragon Boat Races Come to St. Petersburg – FREE

When: Saturday, October 6th @ 9:30 AM

Dragon Boat racing is coming to St. Pete! Yep, hundreds of paddlers will be paddling down the St. Petersburg harbor while drummers beat there drums like there’s no tomorrow. I went to a race earlier this year and had a lot of fun! In fact, I actually took a few pictures of the event. Trust me, this is an event you don’t want to miss!

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Gymnastics Championship Tour – $100 and up…

When: Saturday, October 28th @ 6:00 PM

If you’re having Olympic withdrawals already or if you’re fond of Gymnastics then I would suggest going to this event. After all, Gymnastics is an impressive sport and I sometimes think, “Gymnast can moonlight as superheros and fight crime with their amazing skills if they wanted to….”  This event will have all of team USA’s  Gymnast. Yep, they will have all of  the ones who performed during this year’s Olympics. You can buy tickets here and   here!