Gymnastics Club extends its reachThe River Falls Gymnastics Club began leasing space at 151 Hwy. 35, near the Jackelen Auto Body business in March 2011. The club celebrates its one-year anniversary with an expansion.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
The River Falls Gymnastics Club began leasing space at 151 Hwy. 35, near the Jackelen Auto Body business in March 2011. The club celebrates its one-year anniversary with an expansion.
It leased half the big building last year and grew into the other half this year. That more than doubled the gym space from 1,700 square feet to 3,600 square feet and making the parent area much bigger.
Club President Kaci (Gavic) Nowicki said program growth enabled the expansion and has led to additional programming: “In the last year, our enrollment has gone up about 20%.”
She said the club and its volunteers prepared the space over the typically slow holiday weeks then opened the expanded part this month. She said Jackelen did a lot of work to the building, preparing it to convert from use as an auto-body space to use as a gymnastics floor.
Nowicki agrees the high-visibility location has contributed a bit to club growth at all levels.
People see it and stop in or are reminded of classes they want.
She says the club gets many participants from neighboring communities, estimating that some 60%-70% of the kids in the program are local. Before the expansion, the club did not market heavily since it didn’t have a lot of extra room.
“Now that we can get a lot more kids in the gym at once, we can have a lot more classes,” said the club president.
Sessions from preschool age to competitive gymnastics are growing; many parents say it gives their kids something physical to do in the winter months. Nowicki says while the club offers full service to competitive-level gymnasts, the majority of participants is young children who want to be active and have fun.
She said the club changed its open-gym policy that required pre-registration; sometimes that was prohibitive when a child wanted to bring along, to open gym, a friend, sibling, cousin, neighbor or other child who wasn’t pre-registered.
Now, any child can come whose parents have signed a waiver available on the club’s web site.
“Our birthday party has grown quite a bit,” Nowicki said, adding the gym has a separate room for cake plus a lot of the big-equipment toys the kids like.
Recent additions include a long, regular trampoline and large inflatable trampoline-like piece. Those help enhance the occasional kids’ nights held at the club, which aim to give parents a breather. Nowicki used a “Drop and Shop” event held at Christmas as an example of the occasional kids’ events.
She said the club also has a few special programs put on by people who rent a little space from it -- such as a boot-camp fitness program for adults. She said the club is open to arranging use of the space with other groups, too.
The club president says plans are forming for classes that specifically serve special-needs kids and a program for children younger than preschool age.
She said the club is open to scheduling such events with other groups like scouts or parents’ groups.
“We’re looking to add Zumba as well,” Nowicki said about the future.
She confirms that the River Falls Gymnastics Club holds some activities at the Meyer Middle School gym. It’s also actively working toward the goal of building a facility on land it bought beside River Falls High School.
Nowicki said the club is scheduled to pay off the land in 2014. The goal then would be to start construction.
The club will host end-of-the-year championship meets that are equivalent to a state tournament on March 10 and 11.
Gymnastics clubs compete for the privilege of hosting it, and Nowicki says it will bring to town about 225 children plus their families.
She said people are welcome to attend an open house 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. They can tour the facility and consider enrolling for March sessions.
Much more information about the River Falls Gymnastics Club can be found at its web site: www.riverfallsgymnastics.com.