If ever you stood in the waiting room at the Chilliwack Air Care centre, fuming while your car coughed and sputtered through government-mandated emissions testing, take heart.
Not only is Air Care gonzo, but that building is being turned into something that doesn’t cause ulcers.
Wayland Sports has bought the space.
The owner, Ying Wang, and his staff have spent the last few weeks turning it from a place adults cry to a place children will laugh.
It’s filled wall-to-wall with big blue matts, balance beams, pommel horses and everything else a gymnastics studio could want.
An open house tomorrow (Saturday) will mark the opening of the business and Katherine Campbell can’t wait.
“Kids ages one-and-a-half right through to teens will be able to experiment with vault, bars, beam and floor,” the Wayland Sports senior executive officer said. “We have all the traditional equipment, but we also have all kinds of colorful teaching aids.”
Campbell pointed at a foam shape that resembles either a wedge of cheese or Pacman, depending how much you like cheese.
“That one is actually an incline matt, which is great for teaching backward roles and backhand springs,” she explained.
But the marquee item that will get all the kids fired up is a 30 foot long tumble track. Basically, it’s a really long trampoline.
“It’s really fun and I think the kids will love it,” Campbell said, grinning. “You can kind of run down it and it feels like you’re floating in space.”
Program director Brittany Hawkins is a lifelong gymnast who’s been with Wayland Sports for 10 years. The company employs 50-plus coaches between its Richmond, Steveston, Surrey and Maple Ridge locations.
“It seems lots and lots of families are moving out this way because it’s seems like one of the last affordable areas to go,” Campbell said when asked why Chilliwack made sense. “Looking at the demographics we know there’s going be a lot more growth.”
“And for the size of Chilliwack, this seemed like an under-served community for gymnastics.”
The Chilliwack Gymnastics Club on Young Road has been the only game in town in recent years if you didn’t want to drive to Abbotsford. Campbell and company hope to keep people at home offering an array of programs.
“The main reason we came here is because we felt Chilliwack is a community that could really use our expertise and passion,” she noted. “We really specialize in recreational gymnastics for pre-schoolers and up, so just getting everyone involved in gymnastics.”
Those looking for a competitive club will have to wait.
Chilliwack’s best and brightest gymnasts have been commuting to Abbotsford’s Twisters Gymnastics for years.
“As we grow and get known in the community and build a base, we may start a competitive women’s program,” Campbell offered. “Brittany is a level three NCCP certified coach and she coaches competitive in Richmond, Surrey and Maple Ridge.”
“So we’re good to go with her and it’s just getting the kids and the interest because competitive gymnastics is a big commitment for everyone.”
One program that will be available from the start is advanced recreational gymnastics.
The next best thing to a competitive program, ‘Inter-Club’ offers more hours in the gym for boys and girls who are keen.
“They can come twice a week for four or six or nine hours if they want to,” Campbell said.
Response to the new club has been strong. Tomorrow’s open house, which starts shortly after 9 a.m., includes a full day of classes that required pre-registration.
“We’ve got free trial classes — parent/tot, three-on-me for three year olds, pre-school, kinder-gym and our achievement program for boys and girls Grades 1-8,” Campbell said. “With little promotion one of the classes is already full and we’ve brought in another coach and opened more spots.”
“We’ll have club tours and refreshments and every kid will get a helium balloon and we’ll see what kind of reaction we get,” she added. “We’re all so passionate on our end, and I think people will see that.”