New Digs For London Gymnastics Academy

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

When the London Gymnastics Academy moves into its new digs this summer at 3392 Bateman Trail, it will do more than just offer its 1,300 gymnasts and cheerleaders a state-of-the-art facility.

In fact, according to co-owner and former gymnast Jen Kraemer, the $4.5-million, 25,000-sq.-ft. double gym off White Oak Road in south London will invest in local sports by helping to develop more national-level athletes.

Currently, the Academy is housed in an industrial plaza on Wonderland Road South, where Jen and her husband, former Canadian national team gymnast JP Kraemer, have operated their gymnastics club for 14 years. A decade ago, Jen launched the London Heat Cheerleading program, which shares crowded space with the Academy. Both the gymnastics and cheerleader sides offer recreational and national-level competitive opportunities for athletes aged 18 months to adult.

Jen Kraemer will soon trade in steel construction beams for balance beams at the new London Gymnastics Academy. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioSports.com.

“We’re bursting at the seams with nowhere to grow,” said Jen. “Our gymnastics side and our cheerleading side are both exploding – cheerleading to the point where it must have its own space. And to be honest, we’re operating out of an ancient building with no air conditioning, no insulation and well water.

“We want every single client, whether they’re babies or trying to make the national team, to have the very best equipment, as well as the best facility,” Jen said. “And we want our cheerleaders to have their own space – their own identity. They all work very hard, as do our coaches, so they deserve it.”

Jen and JP first met when they were kids training at the current location, then operated as London Gym Kips. JP, a part-time school teacher at St. Francis Catholic Elementary School, competed at the World Gymnastics Championship with Team Canada in 1991.

With a June or July move-in date, the new L-shaped facility will house the very best in gymnastics apparatus. The separate cheerleading space will feature new tumbling equipment and a high-tech sound system where Jen said London Heat athletes can “yell as loud as they want without the gymnasts having to hear them.

“This is a dream come true for us,” Jen said, “but I’ll be honest, it was scary, putting every cent we have on the line and going for it. Every cent my husband has made over the last 20 years has been saved for this moment. There have been zoning and taxes concerns, weather delays – you name it – affecting the cost. And it will take a long time – 10-15 years – for us to get where we want to. But at the end of the day, we’ll have a state-of-the-art gym, and that’s what counts.”

Jen said gymnastics has grown exponentially in Ontario over the past five years, and said cheerleading is one of the fastest growing sports. She said because gymnastics demands performance from every portion of the body, it has seen a big spike in participation numbers. Said Jen, “It’s demanding, it challenges you, it’s fun, the kids love it, it’s entertaining and it’s engaging.”

The new London Gymnastics Academy. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioSports.com.

Jen and JP’s daughter, Mikayla, 17, is a member of the Heat cheerleading squad headed to The Summit cheerleading championships in Orlando, Florida May 3-6 at Walt Disney World Resort. Their son, Justin, 15, is a competitive soccer goalie. Both were Academy gymnasts and both coach with their parents.

Jen said with the new gymnastics facility providing the very best equipment and space, it will assist in bettering training of elite athletes like current Academy gymnasts Bailey Inglis, 12, and Chloe Burrigge, 13. Both are on the national team’s radar in all four women’s events – vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.

“Our staff has done extremely well working within very small spaces,” Jen said. “Now, with our new facility, we’ll be able to improve our skill levels. We have one of the strongest teams in the province, and we’ll only get better.”

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Jeffrey Reed is a long-time member of the London sports media, and publisher/editor of LondonOntarioSports.com, and LondonOntarioGolf.com. Have a story idea for Jeffrey? Reach him at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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