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New gymnasium for kids of all ages opens in Bothell
Jaden Villa, 2, giggled as he propped himself up on gymnastic rings with the help of his coach at Bothell Gymnastics Club.
"I really like taking him here because the coaches are nice and it's much healthier for him to be active here than sitting at home watching television," said Jose Villa, Jaden's dad. "He always has so much fun during gymnastics class; just look at that huge smile on his face. He always smiles when he's here."
Keala Hopps and Amy Linhardt opened the club in October to teach gymnastics to children from preschool to high school.
"I fell in love with coaching and am passionate about gymnastics and teaching kids how to live an active, healthy lifestyle," Hopps said.
Hopps and Linhardt talked about opening their own club together for a long time before signing a lease for the facility in April.
"We decided to do it in Bothell because we really liked the friendly feel this community has," Hopps said. "We felt this was a safe area as well, which we knew would be an important factor for our parents."
Linhardt and Hopps said this is the only gymnastics club in the Bothell area. The closest location for the other clubs is Everett.
"Now Bothell residents can just hop on the freeway and come over," Hopps said.
Hopps grew up doing gymnastics in Kirkland and competed through level 6 as well as on her Eastlake High School varsity gymnastics team. She began her coaching career while attending Gonzaga University in Spokane. She started by coaching preschool and recreational gymnasts, and then started an in-house and Rec-Op Team program at the gym in Spokane. Hopps was called by the owner of a local Seattle gym and asked to come and manage the recreational program.
Linhardt grew up in Oak Harbor and participated in gymnastics at Oak Harbor Gymnastics School for 10 years, retiring as an advanced optional gymnast at 17 years old. She started coaching classes at her gym at age 14. After high school, she moved to Edmonds to attend college and worked as a site manager for a gym where she stayed for 22 years before deciding to return to her gymnastics roots.
"Gymnastics is a great sport because there are so many elements to it and it requires a lot of discipline, which gives kids that 'try, try again attitude,'" Hopps said. "This carries over to other areas of life and helps kids become successful people."
The club has 300 kids already.
"I think families really appreciate our facility in these winter months when the weather is too cold for kids to play outside," Hopps said.
Bothell Gymnastics Club offers morning and afternoon classes, a preschool playtime and hosts birthday parties. The owners said that although gymnastics is thought to be a sport for girls, they have many classes specifically for boys.
"We truly have something for everyone here," Hopps. said.
Hopps hopes to continue to build the club.
"We want to grow as we watch our students grow," she said. "We hope to hire more staff and offer more classes in the future."
For more information on Bothell Gymnastics Club, visit www.bothellgymnasticsclub.com.