Once there were two competing gymnastics centers within a half mile of each other on a Grass Valley hillside. But both Rising Starz and Stellar Gymnastics closed in the past year.
That opened the door wide open for Jeff Jenkins and Gold Country Gymnastics to offer a suddenly unique program to the community, while operating out of the former site of Stellar Gym.
Since taking over operations on Spring Hill Drive in January, Gold Country Gymnastics has expanded not only the gymnastics programs offered there, but also the building itself.
“Starting in mid-May, we knocked down walls and expanded the entire facility,” said Jenkins. “The building is 50 percent bigger than it was at the beginning of May.”
That expansion offers gymnasts much more elbow room and also more space to host events such as birthday parties. The lobby area also has been increased in size and between 1,500 and 1,600 square feet has been set aside specifically for preschool programs.
That decision, Jenkins said, arose from what he and his wife, Sonia, saw as growing need in the community. Although western Nevada County offers families a vast array of youth sports programs, most are geared for school-age children.
“Everyone I’ve talked to says the age limit to start playing a lot of these sports is pretty high. They have to be 5 or 6 years old before they can be involved in the sports,” Jenkins said. “We pretty much have basic classes for the kids younger than that which help in terms of coordination. We work on basic body movements to give them a leg up on physical activity.”
Whether those youngsters continue with gymnastics programs at the Gold Country Gym or not, Jenkins said the early-age classes can help give kids a good foundation for other sports. That’s also been the case with older children who move onto other sports after gymnastics, he said.
“We’ve had a lot of kids who have spent a few years in our program and then moved onto other sports and wound up doing very well,” he said. “A lot of the girls move into dance and cheerleading or even the diving program at (Nevada Union). Gymnastics does give you that air awareness.”
Though he’s a new business owner – one who celebrated a grand opening last month – Jenkins is not a newcomer to the community. He’s coached gymnastics in western Nevada County since 1999, including stints at both of the former gyms.
He says he’s enjoyed the new challenge of ownership, although he often finds himself spending more time in the office than he used to when he was focused on instructing.
“It takes a lot more of my time,” he said. “There’s a lot more time spent on paperwork and things like that.
“But we’ve also been able to jump in and make those changes we’ve seen a need for. Now, as the owners, it’s easier for us to jump right in and do it.”
They’ve moved classes for preschool children to earlier in the day, which was well-received in the early summer months as a way to beat the heat. But now that the air-conditioning system has been upgraded, that’s not such a concern, he said.
Along with the expansion in program and facility, Jenkins said Gold Country also saw an expanded enrollment at the first of the year. Currently, he said, the gym is seeing a drop in enrollment that is typical for summer months. He expects things to pick up again this fall.
“Although,” he added, “it hasn’t been quite as much of a drop as we’ve seen in years past.”
Jenkins encourages those considering gymnastics classes to give the program a try. Although there is no trial period for classes, if families aren’t satisfied after giving the program a go over a one-month period, the gym does offer a “money-back guarantee.”
“We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback,” he said, “from people, who maybe were away from the gym for a while and have come back or have been in the gym throughout the (expansion) process.”
For more information on Gold Country Gymnastics, call 273-3680 or stop by the gym at 110 Spring Hill Drive in Grass Valley.
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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