By Laurelle Walsh
In a narrow, 450-square-foot storefront on Glover Street, 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds are leaping, skipping, swinging from bars and shrieking with joy.
The six youngsters got off the school bus in front of the Twisp Gym, hurried across the street, hung backpacks on hooks, kicked off shoes and got straight to work — having fun.
And though it is their first time exploring the new space, the fun is had in a remarkably orderly way. Without any direction from instructor Jeff Monahan, the kids rotate around the tight space in a counter-clockwise direction and wait their turn on the bars and rings, grinning widely the entire time.
The colorful gym is padded with mats of all sizes and shapes, some of which are designed to help with specific tumbling skills, Monahan said. A high, free-standing “rack” is a sturdy framework from which to hang rings and ropes while doubling as monkey bars during free play.
Part of the walls are paneled with whiteboard material where the instructor writes daily objectives and workout routines and draws pictures to help explain skills.
After around 10 minutes of supervised free play, Monahan says, “Who’s hungry?” and presents his charges with a snack of fresh fruit and nuts, which they eat at a table in the front of the gym.
The Twisp Gym opened its doors this week, and though his space is new, Monahan has been teaching fitness and gymnastics classes in the valley for around seven years already.
His original gym, appropriately called the Garage Gym, is located in his home garage in Winthrop. From that space he has taught CrossFit and gymnastics classes to children and adults since 2006.
Monahan and his family moved to the Methow in 2005 when he was hired to teach P.E. at Liberty Bell Junior/Senior High School. When that position dissolved after three years, Monahan began focusing on building his own fitness business.
“I’ve always had an interest in gymnastics,” he said. “Gymnastics is the basis of all movement—coordination, balance and strength — which naturally help in all other sports.”
He began taking gymnastics classes in college, though he never competed, and enjoys the difficulty, challenge and “daredevil” aspects of the sport, he said.
“Gymnastics was not available to me where I grew up in rural, upstate New York. I wanted to offer it here so that my son could be well-versed in gymnastics,” Monahan said.
“What I hope kids will take away from my classes is that it is more than just a fun class; it is a lifestyle of health and fitness. I also like to show that there is a logical progression to learning skills. Then it is a matter of practice and improving fitness to attain desired goals. Gymnastics is a great medium for teaching perseverance,” he said.
Kids’ programs at the Twisp Gym range from 45-minute classes for toddlers and parents, to three-day camps for specific ages and skill levels. Monahan also offers short classes and longer classes for more advanced gymnasts.
On Super Action Friday Fun Day, the fast-paced hour-long classes focus on games and teamwork. Open gym time is also available for kids to come and explore, he said.
The Twisp Gym is located at 114 N. Glover St., adjacent to Cinnamon Twisp Bakery. Current hours are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with classes and open gym time scheduled throughout the week.
For more information go to twispgym.com or call (509) 449-0452.