Gymnastics vs Dance - Aspects You Should Consider To Determine What Is Best For You

by Danielle Hernandez on September 25, 2018


If you are considering taking a gymnastics or dance class to understand what is involved, you will want read through some top aspects that allow you to determine what might be best for you.

Dancing is often a part of gymnastics although the reverse may not always be right. Given the moves both dance and gymnastics have in common, it's not uncommon for many dancers to love to do gymnastics. With many skills like flexibility, resilience, showmanship common to both, how do you determine which is better for you or your child?

Gymnastics and dance have a few similar elements, but since they are also vastly different in many ways, people have a favourite between the two. If you are trying to decide whether to concentrate solely on dancing or gymnastics for yourself or your child, there are several aspects to consider to n decide which is better for you.

Given that all gymnasts need to know at least a few dance moves, they will take a dance class to help perfect their moves on the floor. Dancers will take tumbling classes for the very same reason. While exploring these classes, students sometimes realize that their real passion lies in a different place than they first thought.

At other times, a dancer or gymnast could take an alternative class that only fuels their love for their activity of choice. At the crux of both of these, is the fact that for a gymnast or dancer to decide whether gymnastics or dance is better for them, they need to explore a bit of both.

Here are some aspects you can consider to get an idea of both these art forms-

You Can Start Dance At Any Age

You Can Start Dance At Any Age

On talking to talented gymnasts or reading their bio, you will realize that they took to the sport when they were young. In fact, the best gymnasts start at a young age, and older gymnasts who are beginners find learning difficult skills harder because of their height.

Dance talent, on the other hand, can be tapped in children even as old as 16 or 17, and they go on to become very successful. In addition to age making skills challenging to pick up, gymnasts usually only move up one level a year. This fact makes it hard for older children to compete for long periods of time or even step up to the more challenging levels of competition.

Gymnastics Tumbling can be Added to Dance

One of the main features in gymnastics, tumbling is often used as a great addition to a dance routine. Tumbling can easily be added as dance routines consist of leaps, jumps, pointed toes, and strength exercises. A choreographer can also incorporate handstands, cartwheels, rolls, back handsprings, and other aerial tumbling passes to dance routines with ease. However, having these stunts and tricks in a dance routine is not the primary focus for a choreographer or a dancer. On the other hand, in gymnastics, the feats and methods are the heart of a routine and the dancing (many are dance moves for the mat or floor) is just a filler for the time between tumbling passes.

Dancers Use Both Legs – Gymnasts Tend to Favor One Side

Dancers Use Both Legs – Gymnasts Tend to Favor One Side

Both dancers and gymnasts have many similar moves their stunts and tricks are comparable, but the way they train to perfect these are different. Dancers and gymnasts are trained differently, and usually, Gymnasts favour one side. For example, they tend to use their left leg to lead while doing leaps or hurdles. Dancers, on the other hand, use both legs and do not have a strong side as such. This can make mastering dance routines difficult for gymnasts, especially if she is in a group routine where she is expected to turn to the right while she is used to leading with her left leg.

Dance With Its Variety Is More Inclusive

What makes dance so immensely popular is the sheer forms and variety of dance forms; there is always some form that is appealing. Also, people can move across forms and adapt moves from different dance forms. For instance, ballet is for those that want a structured, controlled way of dance that is high on technique while the lyrical or contemporary dance focuses on emotion allowing the dancer's talent to shine through. This is not the case with gymnastics where you need to adhere to the rule-book strictly.

Competitive Dance can be just as if not more Expensive than Gymnastics

Competitive Dance can be just as if not more Expensive than Gymnastics

Many gymnasts or parents of gymnasts will share that enrolling in gymnastics can be an expensive proposition. However, the costs involved in competitive dance can be prohibitive as well and easily comparable with gymnastics. The number of classes a dancer signs up for, the more the cost will increase. Dance studios or schools require a separate fee for each type of class and costumes are always an additional cost. Getting a costume custom designed, even with a studio bulk order discount can easily cost upwards of $80 to $400, and we are not even counting the shoe cost.

Gymnastics is expensive too. With gym class fees, special classes with private coaches, registration and travel cost to competitions held all over the country, and the costs add up. Also, a gym leotard is nearly three times as much as a basic dance leotard. Training leotards range from $40 to $60 and competition Leos are extremely expensive, and for this reason, most gymnasts treasure their only competition leotard.

Not all Gymnasts can dance well, and not all Dancers can be Gymnasts

Looking at the proper conditioning, flexibility and athletic ability, one would tend to think to look at a gymnast that he or she would make a great dancer. Similarly, watching a dancer do backhand spring or a tumble, might get you thinking that that person would be great at gymnastics. But often this is not the case and the examples mentioned are probably a tiny portion of the routines adopted by a gymnast or a dancer.

Being good at certain moves is no guarantee that a dancer will also be a gymnast or a gymnast a good dancer. A gymnast does more than tumble; uneven bars, balance beam are all other critical components that a dancer may not be able even to figure out. And in fact, gymnasts struggle with dance moves, the rhythm or the sequence may not be something they can wrap their head around.

A Bit about a Ballet Leotard and Gymnastics Leotards

A Bit about a Ballet Leotard and Gymnastics Leotards

Dance teachers and studio directors see this happening all too often. Parents sign their child up for a gymnastics class and go shopping for the first leotard. When they look at the price tag or at least 45$ for a shiny gym leotard, they turn towards the rack containing $15 cotton leotards. They figure the gym leotard is not worth investing in for a three-year-old who may give up on her classes very soon.

Other situations are equally common, where parents shopping for a neutral coloured cotton ballet leotard have been forced by their ward to buy a shiny gym leotard.

The purchase of a dance or gymnastics leotard is a combination of tradition, aesthetics, and function. Wearing the appropriate leotard shows discipline and respect for the activity. It reduces distractions and enhances the child's ability to participate and also protect from the risk of injury.

Gymnastics Leotards

Gym leotards are made of shiny spandex or velvet material (to accommodate swift movement) and come as tanks and with long sleeves. Students wear the tanks for lessons and practice and save the long sleeved ones for competitions and performances. Gym leotards are usually brightly hued with fancy patterns, and they do not have any embellishments as they are seen as safety hazards while tumbling and other gymnastic moves.

Usually, students wear tank leotards for lessons and practice and long sleeves for competitions and performances. Sometimes ‘unitards’ (body-wear garments that have a bike-short like bottom instead of a brief “underwear” cut) are also appropriate for gymnastics It is vital for gymnastics leotards to be quite a tight fitting because it is a safety hazard for students to wear anything loose that could get caught on equipment.

Dance Leotards

Dance leotards have more variety and come in many different styles, different fabrics such as cotton, spandex, lace, mesh, or velvet. Dance leotards designed for young children can have a tank, short sleeves or long sleeve styles. Teen and adult dancers usually don camisole (spaghetti strap) and ¾ sleeve styles.

Apart from its ability to fit comfortably, dance leotards are meant to be in line with a school or studio's dress code requirements. While Gymnastics allows for some amount of individuality when it comes to leotards, however dance and especially ballet training is about being in a costume that promotes moving in unison with other dancers.


Having considered these above aspects about gymnastics and dancing, take an exploratory class or classes of each to understand first hand which one you feel more passionate about. Start early, especially if you are keen on trying out both as gymnasts start (and retire!) soon. Ultimately, the talent and yes, good coaching and opportunities are what will help decide which path you should go down.


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