Euroturn knows how to throw a party. Although the club is sadly unable to throw the huge anniversary party they’d have liked to organise, the anniversary party is still going to be a pretty big event. There will be music, nice snacks and drinks, and those who feel like dressing up will be allowed to do so. In other words, it will be a dressing-up gymnastics party for adults. “But obviously, we’ll be training, as well,” says the club’s treasurer, Niek Vloedgraven, with a smile.

He is glad that the anniversary can be celebrated at all, despite the coronavirus restrictions. “It’s great that we are actually allowed to keep training in the first place, because not all sportspeople are allowed to do so. So we’re happy to put up with the fact that our group has been divided into two, with half the group training early in the evening and the other half training later in the evening.” They are also happy to put up with the temporary ban on new members. “We currently have 71 members, which is definitely the maximum number we can handle,” says Vloedgraven. “Once the coronavirus crisis is over and we can start training regular hours again, we will start recruiting again.”

Image credit: Sanne van der Most

Gymnasts celebrate each other’s success

“Hopefully we’ll be able to have really cool parties again then,” club secretary Marith Francke goes on to say. “Our competitions against other clubs, in particular, are always a huge hit. We’ll all go to the club organising the competition together. We’ll all sleep on our mats together in a large gym, side by side, with some people waking up the next morning in a completely different place than the one where they’d fallen asleep just a few hours earlier. But that’s all part of the experience, right?”

Thankfully, the parties and the annual skiing trip are not the only fun group experiences to be had at Euroturn. “The vibe is chill, and everyone helps each other,” says Francke. “Whether you’re a beginner or a former elite gymnast, we’re always here to help you. Gymnastics is traditionally a very individual sport and highly achievement-focused, but student gymnastics is a completely different story. And not just in Rotterdam, either. It’s true for all student gymnastics clubs. We see that in our competitions, as well. Everyone can take part, regardless of their level, and we all celebrate each other’s successes. If someone shows a good routine, everyone else will applaud. That’s really encouraging.”

Easy access

Everyone is welcome to join Euroturn, regardless of whether they are former elite gymnasts or completely new to the sport. “And we also welcome all levels in between,” says club president Erik Gal, himself a former high-level gymnast. “When I was a student in Delft, I wanted to pick up gymnastics again, but at a less competitive level. So I joined Euroturn. Fortunately, I was allowed to do so – people from outside Rotterdam are allowed to join. In fact, I’m no longer a student, and I’m still a member. Euroturn is an easy-access kind of place, and I can train on top of my job, so that’s just perfect.”

What is notable is the number of international club members. Zsofia Anna Kovi is the club’s competition officer, as well as the board’s only non-Dutch member. “I’m from Hungary and as a child, I used to do gymnastics there. Well, a type of gymnastics, anyway, involving a lot of jumping and acrobatics.” She felt completely in her element at Euroturn the moment she joined. “As far as that’s concerned, we really are a perfect club for international students,” says Gijs van Vlaardingen, the club’s communications and media officer. “You’re not forced to join in a fun situation. Rather you’re doing your own thing physically, in a sport you happen to share with others. It’s a great and very quick way to create a bond with others, to the point where it no longer matters where you’re from or what language you speak. Moreover, everyone is super willing to speak English here. We even have international students on our board. That doesn’t happen very often in Dutch student societies. And we’re quite proud of that.”

Carola (IBCoM) and Alicia (Medicine) ‘Whatever your level, people are happy for each other here’

DAMES 1 _ student gymnastics association Euroturn
Image credit: Sanne van der Most

Carola: “I also work out at a regular gym, but the nice thing about gymnastics is that it’s different every time. There’s always some kind of skill you can perform. And we really have gymnasts of all levels at Euroturn. Everyone helps each other and encourages each other, and the vibe is really chill. Competitions are chill, too. They’re basically a really good time. Particularly the parties in the evening. I think my strongest event is bars, but I like floor best.”

Alicia: “The gymnastics community is quite competitive, and the emphasis tends to be on competitions. That’s why many gymnasts drop out. Euroturn gymnasts are quite committed, as well, but everyone is happy when another gymnast does well, whatever that gymnast’s level. And I also really like the freedom we’re given here. We can do whatever we want. We can train whichever apparatus we want, and if we don’t show up for training one week, no one will get on our case.”

Michael (20, Law) ‘Sore in parts of my body I didn’t even know existed’

Michael 3 student gymnastics association Euroturn
Image credit: Sanne van der Most

“Due to the coronavirus crisis, I was no longer able to work out at my regular gym, which sucked, as I really wanted to keep training. So initially I did some stuff on my own – handstands, that sort of thing. And then I read something at uni about gymnastics at Euroturn. Thankfully, gymnastics classes were still allowed to go on, which was a great opportunity for me to supplement my own training and make it more complete. It was a huge hit right from the start. After my first time, I was sore in parts of my body I didn’t even know existed. The vibe is great and the people are a lot of fun. Gymnastics itself is a very technical sport – this is not to be underestimated. My favourite apparatus is rings. I’m good at it because I have strong arms. I will continue to work out at the regular gym, but I’m definitely going to keep doing gymnastics, as well. I’m really glad I made this discovery.”

Gijs (English literature) ‘You basically train alongside your best friends here’

GIJS _ student gymnastics association Euroturn
Image credit: Sanne van der Most

“One day I was allowed to join a Euroturn training session, and I noticed at once that it was a cheerful place. The atmosphere is relaxed, the people are fun and everyone is happy whenever another person does something well. That was quite a relief for me. I felt welcomed at once, so I joined the club. The activities are a lot of fun, as well – drinks sessions, parties and skiing trips. They make it easier for people to get to know each other outside the gym. I did gymnastics before at clubs where we wouldn’t see each other in regular clothes for a year. It’s very different here. The club has definitely become a part of my life. You basically train alongside your best friends here. That’s definitely true for me. I got to know all my friends in Rotterdam at Euroturn. My favourite apparatus is the trampoline. It seems elegant and easy, as does everything in gymnastics. But it’s kind of hard, really. If you do it well, it feels like you’re flying.”