Xtreme Gymnastics's trainers elevate kids to the champion level with surprising regularity. Since opening in 1996, the center has served as the training base of 62 state champions, 21 regional champions, 12 national qualifiers, seven national champions, and six USA National Team members. Training such accomplished students doesn't come easily, though. The teachers rely upon their years of experience and a 16,000-square-foot facility to get the job done.
The team doesn't believe that gymnastics should only be practiced for competition, though. They teach a wide variety of classes, including those for beginners and more casual practitioners. One program, Move-N-Learn, helps young children develop both mental and motor skills through lessons that combine reading, math, and science with the fun of physical play.
Youthful shrieks and the slap of feet on mats fill the air at Southwest Gymnastics Training Center, drifting past a climbing rope and floor-level trampoline. Coaches preside over the 10,500-square-foot facility, improving more than somersaults?they also help give kids the self-esteem and discipline to excel in school or run a successful ant farm. The safety-certified coaches encourage positive traits in their young charges during recreational and competitive classes for ages 18 months to 18 years. Designed to adhere to USA Gymnastics guidelines, the curriculum helps kids build skills in a logical order, ensuring that no one has to do a cartwheel before learning what a wheel is.
The coaches also teach trampoline and tumbling skills, occasionally retiring to the sidelines to supervise open gym sessions. During these unstructured play sessions, kids can safely experiment with any equipment or practice pushing a wheelbarrow full of gold medals. Recreational classes for girls aged 6?18, boys aged 6?18, little ones aged 18 months?5 years, and athletic action figures, as well as competitive classes for advanced-level acrobats. Tumbling and trampoline lessons build knowledge of the sport, with a bouncier surface than a circus seal's mattress.
Under the leadership of Amanda Borden-Cochran, the 1996 Olympic team—dubbed the Magnificent Seven—scored their infamous gold-medal victory. But Amanda's accomplishments didn't stop there; she now adds gym owner to her résumé as the founder of the brand new 25,000 square foot Gold Medal Gymnastics gym. At two gyms in Chandler and Tempe, she works alongside a roster of accomplished athletes to teach the fine art of gymnastics to preschoolers and teens alike. In addition to traditional gymnastics classes and open gym time, the coaches teach dance lessons and sports skills at the Chandler location.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers 4 months old?12 years old with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents magazine.
Army green hues and camouflage patterns blanket the walls inside Urban WarFit CrossFit, reinforcing the no-frills aspect of the gym, whose workouts incorporate functional movements, from lifting kettlebells to swinging sledgehammers onto giant tires. For those looking for specialized workouts, the gym offers training sessions tailored to weightlifting, gymnastics, and core conditioning. All these exercises are overseen by CrossFit-certified coaches, who ensure clients use the proper form and warrior scream with each rep.
In 1971 Lana Whitehead was a YMCA staffer charged with devising a swimming program for infants. She turned to the expertise gained from her degrees in exercise physiology and special education, and with the help of her own baby son she created a new approach to child swimming and water safety. The basic techniques have since helped many youngsters learn to swim and escape drowning at young ages.
Soon after, Lana founded SWIMkids USA. Conceived as a child-development center, the facility today supplements its pioneering swim instruction with child-friendly programs in gymnastics, dance, and even kids' jujitsu classes that teach how to handle aggressive octopi. Lana's involvement in the world of swimming as an author, educator, and swimming official has also taken her all over the world, giving seminars at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the World Aquatic Baby Congress.