Monday, 14 October 2019

Gymnastics coach starts new classes for children

Gymnastics coach starts new classes for children

A GYMNASTICS club for children has been launched in Henley.

Katie Johnson, 24, believes there is plenty of interest in the sport but little in the way of facilities or coaching in the town.

She has been coaching for 10 years and was att Kennylands Gymnastics Club in Sonning Common for five years before deciding to launch her own business, Vision Gymnastics.

Earlier this month, she began running classes at Christ Church in Reading Road every Thursday from 4pm to 7.45pm.

She has two other instructors, Ellie West and Kristina Nicholls, who she knew from her previous club.

Ms Johnson said: “There are so many children out there who do not have the option to do this sport because there are not always the right facilities.

“I have a passion to get children active and love working with them.

“At Vision Gymnastics, I want myself and the coaching team to build a strong rapport with the gymnasts, ensuring they leave the class with a smile on their faces and look forward to returning the following week.” The classes have been designed to suit all abilities and will include lessons on how to do handstands, cartwheels and a range of floor exercises.

Ms Johnson lives in Emmer Green with her parents Andrew and Angela. Her father is managing director at Kalypso Media, a gaming company in Bracknell, and her mother and sister Abby, 26, have their own dog walking and boarding business called Family Dog Care Night & Day.

She first became interested in gymnastics when she was at Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common.

Ms Johnson said: “I started at the age of 12 and just did it for fun — I never competed. I picked up the skills quite quickly and was really keen. I had lots of energy and wanted to do something that was good for discipline. If you do gymnastics it sets you up for so many different sports and I was already in lots of sports teams at school.

“When I was 14 I got into coaching. My mum said I should do gymnastics classes. At the age of 12 you are actually quite old for gymnastics, which sounds crazy but children start at age five or six.”

She has taught gymnasts at county and regional level and is now a level 2 women’s artistic coach.

She continued coaching when she went to The Henley College to study for a business diploma.

Ms Johnson said: “I was not 100 per cent sure what I wanted to do but with my experience I thought this would be something that I could put my time and energy into.

“I have put most of my savings towards starting this club.”

She hopes to encourage the same enthusiasm she had for the sport as a child in her students.

Ms Johnson said: “It is very important to make sure children understand the importance of exercise and staying active.

“There is so much value in coaching them and it is hugely rewarding to see them learning new skills. Some of them take a long time to learn but that encourages them to persevere and that will help them in later life.

“I believe that I form a good rapport with children.

“We are a British Gymnastics-affiliated club and we abide by all of their coaching practices and standards. The children will be working towards their British Gymnastics badges, which start at grade 8 and work towards bronze, silver and gold.”

She says she wants the business to grow but her class sizes to remain small.

Ms Johnson said: “I want it to be a quality service where I can use my knowledge to make sure that they are working on developing their skills and getting the best coaching.

“There is room for us to grow the classes, depending on how many people attend. There is definitely the demand for it that is not being met locally.

“When you have put all of your time and money into something you want to see it become a huge success. I am very passionate about it. It is like my baby.”

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