Article published in the Ballarat Courier, October 5th, 2015.
Calisthenics brings beauty and business
CALISTHENICS competitions have opened at Royal South Street with more than 4000 girls from 90 clubs arriving in droves for their chance to be crowned “most graceful”.
The girls – and their parents – have arrived in Ballarat from across Australia including other Victorian towns, South Australia, Canberra and Queensland
With glitz and glamour rivalling the Oscars, and moves to give 1970s calisthenics fanatic Jane Fonda a run for her money, the stage was overwhelmed by deft feats, graceful twirls and enough synchronisation to make your head swirl.
Calisthenics is usually a team game, but the “graceful solo” competition coming up on October 23 gives the girls a chance to show off their individual best.
This category is highly sought-after as the winner will be used as an ambassador for the eisteddfod.
Royal South Street business manager Brett Macdonald said calisthenics was incredibly popular: in fact the local Jayde Calisthenics Club didn’t even need to advertise for students.
“They’re very, very happy with the state of the sport,” Mr Macdonald said.
“The challenge for the sport is the intermediate age group – about 16 to 17 – when other things start happening for young women.”
Mr Macdonald said one of the main distractions for the age group was VCE exams that took place at the same time as the eisteddfod.
He said Royal South Street actually planned to change its dates next year to help avoid the dates clash.
Mr Macdonald also mentioned while the sport was certainly open to boys, none had entered the eisteddfod.
However, Royal South Street isn’t just a coup for the eisteddod winners – local Ballarat businesses are also enjoying bustling business.
“Time and time again we get comments from motels and cafes and hotel because it’s so good for their business,” Mr Macdonald said.
“But we keep filling the auditorium because people are coming to Ballarat, not just for a day trip but to stay and play and eat out in the town.”
Ansonia on Lydiard confirmed it had “significant bookings” over the past few days thanks to Royal South and had been booked out on several of those days, while Craig’s Royal Hotel confirmed it was booked out each weekend for the next few weeks, also due to the eisteddfod and some other in-house functions.
Seymours on Lydiard manager Chelsea Maher said calisthenics groups had booked out the hotel on Monday night, several nights throughout the week and next week also.