Several years ago Sport Canada and the International Olympic Committee identified gymnastics as one of three foundation sports for skills and fitness development, in addition to swimming and running. For that reason Whistler Gymnastics is expecting to see a lot of interest in their new facility this year when it opens to the public.
Whistler Gymnastics is the principle tenant of the Oros - Whistler Gymnastics Centre, a full-time training facility with full-sized spring floor, foam pits, in-ground trampolines with roof-mounted harnesses, a full set of men's equipment, a tumble-track and other equipment.
While the new facility has several advantages over the gym's current location at Spring Creek - where coaches, gymnasts and parents help to set up and take down the equipment every day - it also poses a challenge as the Whistler Gymnastics Club will see its facility rental costs triple after the move.
However, the new facility has also prompted interest from a diverse range of user groups that will help to make up that gap.
Whistler Gymnastics is hosting a meeting on Tuesday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Spring Creek School that is open to all potential user groups, explaining what the facility can offer, rates and available times. If your group can't be there you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Oros business development manager Sandi Wentzel, roughly 35 access groups have been contacted and the majority have asked for information packages. Roughly 10 user groups will be at the meeting next Tuesday.
"We just wanted to open a meeting to whoever is interested," said Wentzel. "There are probably a lot of people out there who have an interest who we overlooked and want more information on the centre and how they can use it."
The key for most user groups is flexibility. Mornings and early afternoons are generally wide open, but the facility could be booked by Whistler Gymnastics for programming during the after-school period - roughly 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day. After that the facility is open again during the evening.
Whistler Gymnastics is also expanding its range of programs to include more pre-school and school programs, trampoline programs and a program for boys. They are also looking at different models to be able to offer drop-in gymnastics to adults and members of the community.
Weekends and the summer months are wide open, too. Whistler Gymnastics will likely increase the number of summer camps they offer for 2011 but the organization is also taking applications to use the facility around those time slots.
"We need organizations that can be flexible," said Wentzel. "Most organizations are interested in the same time, that after-school block, but there is a lot of opportunity for access. We have lots of space for young adults, parent-tot groups and even martial arts groups in the morning."
The Vancouver Circus School has indicated an interest in hosting programs over Christmas and spring breaks, as well as during the summer. One suggestion would see a cross-training program over the lunch hour for the general public combined with a drop-off program for toddlers.
The only conditions for programming are that all users are required to have a membership in Whistler Gymnastics in order to cover the insurance requirement for using the facility.
The club itself may also expand, although they currently boast 490 members utilizing kids programs, school programs and trampoline.
"We're not expecting to see a huge increase in numbers there because we're really high already and most of the community knows about us," said Wentzel. "But we would like to increase programming in some areas so our number ratios can go down - like trampoline classes with a five-to-one ratio so they get more time on the equipment. We can also offer a little more one-on-one instruction."
Whistler Gymnastics' current roster of coaches is maxed out at this point, but the club expects the number to increase without the burden of setting up and taking down the gym four days a week. A full-time gym also means more training time for athletes, adds Wentzel.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler contributed $2 million towards the facility as a legacy of hosting the 2010 Games. The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation contributed $250,000 to equip the new facility. The new equipment will arrive in August.
Whistler Gymnastics, Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies and Canadian Sports Centre - Pacific will host a grand opening and public open house at the end of the summer, time and date to be confirmed.