O’Brate Gymnastics Center opened Saturday.

Two and a half years have passed since the Garden City Recreation Commission began its gymnastics program.


Almost immediately after opening, the Rec. Commission began looking for a new facility - their’s, located on VFW Road, was too small for what it was being used for.


On Saturday, after 10 months of construction, an open house was held for their new facility: O’Brate Gymnastics Center.


It will officially open to the public on March 2.


Aaron Stewart, Rec. Commission director, said he “couldn’t be happier” to see the new facility open.


Stewart said there was nothing wrong with the old building, but the capacity wasn’t big enough.


“We currently have about 85 (gymnastics participants), and that’s our lowest number,” he said. “Over the past few years we’ve averaged from 90 to 100, generally.”


The new facility is much larger and the additional square footage has allowed them to make the facility much safer than the old one, Stewart said.


“Every inch of the floor is covered in ... at least and inch and a half of foam, everything’s padded,” he said. “We have 4,000 square feet more that we did ... and at the old gym we had to be careful about the rotating the older kids and younger kids to the different stations. Here, they’ll never cross paths. That’s a big safety improvement.”


Besides to the padding and extra space, the new facility now has added more training elements, Stewart said. That includes a bar pit and a vault pit which connects to a tumble track and a spring floor.


“They can work on their dismounts in a much safer land area than previously,” he said.


In addition to the new elements, they raised about $80,000 to purchase some new equipment, however, they are utilizing some of the old equipment and are selling some of the old to cover additional costs, Stewart said.


If some of the equipment is not brand new it’s been refurbished, Stewart said. For example the spring floor was bought used but is like new because it was only used for competitions.


“It’s very, very slightly used,” he said.


Some of the new equipment includes new balance beams, pit blocks, trampolines, the tumble track, flooring, training mats, landing mats, block mats, pit mats and new ropes and ring for the new Junior Ninja Course.


One improvement to the building that Stewart is very excited for is an air conditioning.


“We had no air conditioning in the old building, this really expands out ability to offer programming all day throughout the summer,” he said.


Stewart is also excited that the new facility has a viewing area for parents and spectators.


The old building was separated into two different rooms, an entry room and the gym, which was behind a door and a wall. The window didn’t allow parents to view much.


Stewart said that was the largest complaint they received about the old facility — that parents couldn’t see their children.


“Now the parents can pretty much see every piece of action that’s going on in here,” he said. “We really took that into consideration in the design of the facility.”


Stewart said the the new facility makes an impact on the community.


“(The Rec. Commission’s) mission is to inspire community enhancement, enrichment and unity and our motto is live active, so we hope this facility gives kids an opportunity to come in and be active in a fun, safe environment,” he said. “We want people to have healthy lifestyles and we think that we can do that with this building.”