The all-girl middle school I went to was obsessed with rhythmic gymnastics. It was out of character for a school in such a modest catchment area, but we had this one lady teacher who was responsible for the entire dance-related curriculum, and apparently she was a big shot when she was younger.
We also had a random ‘sister partnership’ with a school in Russia. A small group of girls around our age would come for a few days in summer and practise gymnastics in our facilities. I seriously doubt that our gym was worth the yearly trip, but again rumour had it that it was a reputation thing.
We would sometimes go watch the practice because it was mesmerising. One day, as I still vividly remember, one of the girls took a bite of an apple, and as soon as that happened, their coach smacked her full force across the face that she literally flew a little. Mind you, we were no stranger to the concept of corporal punishment in school, but that day seems to have left such a lasting visual imprint on me. Or rather, I didn’t realise it did, but the memory resurfaces every time I read an article like this one.