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Monday, December 10, 2018

It was supposed to be a 10-minute peek at GymPros. Suddenly, my cell phone rang. My babysitter wanted to know if I was okay because more than an hour had passed without me noticing. I didn’t hear the phone at first because I was so totally enamored by what I was seeing—a fully functioning, professional, frum gymnastics facility available to every child in the community.

I still remember visiting GymPros two years ago. Malky Blum, proprietor of GymPros, spoke about the 10-year lease she signed for her gym. But it’s only two years later, and GymPros has outgrown that once-oversized facility. The new location, centrally located on Route 59 and the 45 in Monsey, is triple in size and beauty. It’s everything you’d find at the leading gymnasiums in the country—and more. The authentic frum flavor and kosher values only add to the experience.

The large windows in the viewing lobby overlook the gym. Muted hues for the walls and brightly colored, Olympic-size equipment make up the 6,000-square-foot gym. I arrive at the end of a recreational class designed for children ages 6-17. The classes may be recreational in nature but you would never know it by the professionalism and attention to detail shown by the coaches dotting the large facility. I can’t believe that these children in front of me doing aerials and back walkovers (some of the challenging recreational gymnastics skills) arrived without any previous gymnastics exposure. A coach is in charge of each group and I observe their complete devotion to the children. The program director, Mrs. Ruchama Katz, can be seen going from group to group ensuring that every child is getting the full GymPros experience.

About 30 children, some of whom have traveled from Bergen County and even the Catskills, are neatly divided in groups and totally absorbed in their activities; they hardly notice me. Because this is their hour, the hour that they shine and grow. Little kids, maybe 6 years old, cartwheel in a neat procession across the Tumbl Traks and spring floors, while the coaches stand next to them helping them do a bit better than the week before. As one coach noted, “I tell each child that the only one they have to compete with… is themselves.” After each successful move, the entire group cheers. No wonder GymPros consistently meets its target of “100 percent smiles on 100 percent of the children.”

“GymPros, at this point, is not a luxury,” Romema Feiner of New Hempstead tells me as soon as she sees me. She came amidst the Yom Tov chaos to do carpool, because “My daughter’s healthy confidence is completely thanks to GymPros. You can’t imagine how many people I sent here after I saw the amazing effects it had on my daughter. She’s here for the second year, and she wouldn’t miss a class for anything.”

GymPros gives a child much more than gymnastics coaching; it teaches commitment toward a goal and enables a child to succeed outside a classroom setting.

The next class I watch is a Team Class. This is a competitive class training to compete on a national level. Everyone who gets a taste of gymnastics gets hooked on the sport but for those exceptionally talented with a drive to take it to the next level, team is just for them.

I catch up with team coach Mrs. Jolie Levy, a decorated gymnast and USAG coach, now on the GymPros staff. “It’s awesome,” she says “I see commitment and talent in the community. I love working here!” I’m impressed at the perfect blend of complete professionalism without compromising on the courtesy among parents, staff and students.

A few years ago, GymPros, along with other Jewish gymnastics teams across the country, formed the JGL (Jewish Gymnastics League). Together they host two annual competitions on the USAG levels. USAG (USA Gymnastics) is the national governing body for gymnastics and the JGL uses USAG rules, routines and scoring in order to provide frum girls with an equal opportunity at competitive gymnastics. The girls on the team stretch way more than their muscles to master the skills needed to compete. They stretch themselves by giving up lots of free time, by eating and sleeping right and making sure to attend every class.

Team head coach Mrs. Tricia Wymore dedicates herself to creating a professional team setting that assures that every gymnast gets the proper coaching and necessary support so that they each can be a true champion. These team girls take their craft so seriously that Coach T. (as Mrs. Wymore is fondly referred to by her students) directs a program called PROgress where the children get directions on how to condition and stretch at home on their off-days in a safe manner so that they can be at their peak when it’s time to compete on the grand stage.

It was a testament to the hard work put in by the entire GymPros team and staff when GymPros went up to accept first place at the Sunshine Invitational (the 2018 winter competition) in Miami, Florida. Because GymPros is the place were gymnasts go PRO; the place where every girl can shine on her own level, at her own pace.

I watch the team practice backflips. One after another, they backflip three times across the gym floor standing upright each time. I can only imagine the feeling of accomplishment these girls taste week after week. At the far left corner, girls build muscle on the bars. They swing their bodies upward and out, looking similar to a gliding eagle. And they are. They have been given the chance to soar.

GymPros is located af 175 Route 59, Spring Valley, NY 10977. To contact them, visit GYM-PROS.COM, email [email protected] or call 845-GYMPROS (496-7767).

By C. Spira