Channel your inner Mary Lou Retton at open gymnastics facility


Gym X-Treme is making the world of gymnastics more accessible and less intimidating for many central Ohioans who’ve never had an opportunity to walk across a 4-inch-wide balance beam, swing on a set of uneven bars or tumble across a bouncy floor mat.

By opening its two facilities in Lewis Center and Canal Winchester to the public during designated “open gym” hours, children and adults can sample these apparatuses and others under the watchful eye of a gymnastics coach.

I visited Gym X-Treme in Lewis Center with my 5-year-old daughter, Rosie, during a birthday party. Rosie and her friends had the whole gym to themselves for two hours.

I was content to watch the children play through a picture window in an observation room, until the coach invited us moms into the gym to try out the equipment, too.

At age 43, I’ve seen my share of summer Olympic Games on TV, from watching Nadia Comaneci score her first “perfect 10” in 1976 to Kerri Strug being carried by coach Bela Karolyi to receive her gold medal in 1996.

I wasn’t the only mom who seemed thrilled by this opportunity. I bounced on the mini trampoline, cartwheeled across the floor mat and jumped from a vault into a pit of colorful, spongy cubes. I also hung on the uneven bars and walked the entire length of a raised balance beam, jumping off for a dismount. It was awesome!

As exciting it was for me, I could tell the children were having even more fun.

For those who feel so inclined to take lessons, Gym X-Treme offers instruction in competitive gymnastics.

Open gym times are Fridays, 8-10 p.m. All ages are welcome and those ages 8 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Cost is $10. “Mommy and Me” gym time is noon-1:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday. Cost is $5 ($4 for additional siblings), for children age 15 months to 6 years. All participants must sign a release form before participating.

The Lewis Center facility is located at 7708 Green Meadows Dr., and the Canal Winchester gym is at 6810 Thrush Dr.

For more information, visit www.gymx-treme.com.