Local gym balances gymnastics and education

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Local gym balances gymnastics and education

Pacific West instructor helps a young member on the balance beam.

Pacific West instructor helps a young member on the balance beam.

Photo | Chris Valentine

Pacific West instructor helps a young member on the balance beam.

Photo | Chris Valentine

Photo | Chris Valentine

Pacific West instructor helps a young member on the balance beam.

Leandra Galloway,
Sports Editor

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Located in Union City, Pacific West Gymnastics’ mission is to give children and teenagers a safe and nurturing environment to expand their physical growth and potential, as well as a place to focus on their education.

“Our moto is challenging minds and motions. Education is a passion of mind, so that is something we try to support through all of our programs,” said Evelyn Paradis, owner of the Pacific West Gymnastics center.

While students work on perfecting their gymnastics technique, they are also able to use the center as a learning resource.

“We have a science teacher who comes in and teaches science once a week, we have an art teacher who comes in and teaches art once a week, and we have a dance teacher who comes in and teaches dance two times a week,” Paradis stated.

The center is a place where individuals can come not only to enhance their athletic and gymnastics skills, but a place where they have the opportunity to become comfortable in their skin, and to make the right choices, including their academic futures.

“We have a lot of athletes that are training, who would like to have the opportunity to do gymnastics in college,” Paradis said. Some of the senior gymnasts are looking at UC and Ivy League schools that offer gymnastic programs.

Gymnast competitor and recreational instructor Daneya King shared her advice about entering the program. “Gymnastics is a physical and mental sport, you have to be motivated and determined,” stated King.

Paradis opened the center during National Gymnastics day on August 6, 2005, with only nine students.

The center now operates seven days a week with 40 staff members and a wide variety of gymnastic instructors with numerous skills and experience under their belt from high school to professional competition. Paradis herself competed in gymnastics in elementary and high school before becoming a gymnastics judge in college.

Pacific West offers classes including tumbling, gymnastics, tae kwon do and science inspired education gymnastic classes.

Classes and open gym sessions include basic skill building like balancing, straddling, bridges and straight toe techniques, along with proper stretching form. Students are placed on a level, one through ten, based on age and experience.

As part of their efforts, Pacific West gave back to the community in June by hosting a customer appreciation day that included many giveaways.

With worries of the gymnastics program being cut at James Logan High School, Paradis works closely with the team as a community outreach project. The James Loagn team is allowed to use the facility for meets and practicing purposes.

For individuals who are just looking for a hobby and physical activity, Pacific West offers beginning and curriculum-based classes. They also have a summer camp that runs for 11 weeks that is pre-educational focused.

For example, at level 10, students have the opportunity to compete at the elite level and are expected to dedicate between 45 minutes and 20 hours a week to gymnastics.

Athletes have the option to compete privately or as a team. Classes are also offered through Union City leisure services where families can sign up online.

Tommy Bothwell, father of a Pacific West member who has been enrolled in level 1 for about a year, shared his experience about the center, “I would encourage parents to do it, I think it’s great for the kids,” Bothwell said.

Shweta Birla, parent of a four and a half year old member at Pacific West stated, “I really like it because it’s good exercise for them,” said Birla. Her child has been attending the center for two months.

“Instead of iPad and watching TV this is the perfect thing for their minds,” she said.

Two competitive programs are offered in fall and spring. “We are going as far as Idaho, Las Vegas, and down to LA this year,” said Paradis. Lower level and optional levels are offered for children and teenagers who are willing to travel. Each level focuses on specific techniques.

“We try to be a community based program that really encourages children both academically ,and athletically and physically,” said Paradis.

After nine years of growth as a gym, Paradis looks to continue developing students mentally and physically into the future.

“I hope individuals walk away with a love for gymnastics and they have a sense of accomplishment,” Paradis said.