The Garden City Recreation Commission's renovation of the new GC Gymnastics facility has entered the "home stretch," according to commission superintendent Aaron Stewart.
Stewart expects renovation efforts to be completed by the end of January and hopes to have the facility open and operating by the end of February. The new facility, at 909 E. Fulton St., will provide an additional 4,000 square feet of floor space compared to GC Gymnastics' current location.
"We have a lot more space, which helps increase our ability to participate safely," Stewart said. "And we're not so crowded. It allows us to separate by skill level and ages."
The renovated facility also has a 20-foot-high ceiling, which should allow for greater skill development on the bar apparatus.
Stewart said remaining work on the gymnastics facility includes putting in windows, adding finishing touches and laying out equipment.
He said staff and gymnastics participants raised about $78,000 for new equipment at the facility. In addition to bars, beams and a spring floor — which are present at the current facility — the new facility will have an in-ground tumble track, two in-ground trampolines and two foam pits used for learning safe dismount technique.
"That's probably the newest thing that we didn't have in the other facility was these two large pits that we'll use — one for bars, one for vaults," Stewart said. "But also the tumble track runs into the pit, so it's multi-use."
The new facility will also house equipment for male gymnasts, including a pommel horse.
Stewart said the timing of completion for the gymnastics facility is perfect as the Summer Olympic Games are being held in 2020.
"The lowest participation year is actually the year before an Olympic year, so there's kind of a four-year trend on gymnastics where it explodes in an Olympic year," Stewart said.
GC Gymnastics welcomes 2-year-olds to high school seniors. Stewart said the program tends to be especially popular with younger ages — those enrolled in "tiny tots" and "tots" classes. Usually, each of those classes sees 15-18 participants.
Stewart said the recreation commission also implemented a Ninja Course program recently, which he hopes will grow in the new facility.
"It's basically a kid's version of American Ninja Warrior," Stewart said. "It's obviously geared to get more people into maybe not traditional gymnastics but gymnastics skill development."
Stewart said the new GC Gymnastics facility has remained on track and on budget, and it allows the recreation commission to stay true to its mission of inspiring "community enhancement, enrichment and unity."
"We live by a set of core values, one of those being promoting healthy lifestyles," Stewart said. "There's the physical fitness aspect of that, which is geared toward kids, but promoting a healthy lifestyle includes emotional and mental health, as well. And the benefits of exercise have been proven to not only improve your physical health but your mental and emotional health."
The new facility, Stewart added, will allow the recreation commission to serve a greater number of young people through partnerships with Garden City Unified School District 457 and Mosaic, an organization helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"We're partnering with organizations like USD 457 and Mosaic to help those with special needs to be able to use that facility for free during our off-peak hours, to come in and get the physical exercise in a safe environment that's obviously well-padded and could prevent a lot of injuries from physical exercise," Stewart said.
And he expects the new facility will have a far-reaching impact.
"I think this facility, hopefully, will make an impact in the community — not just physical health and well-being but as an aesthetic piece, as well, and inspire the community to continue to improve on its existing infrastructure," Stewart said. "We should keep reinvesting in the facilities that we have in order to make them a little more modern, a little more improved and save kind of the history around some of these areas."