It’s not quite ready yet, but the new home of the Rainy Lake Gymnastics Academy (RLGA) is shaping up to be the perfect place for young athletes to spring into the sport when the season begins later this year.
Following an inaugural season cut short by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a second season scrapped altogether, things are looking up for the club, especially as their new home on Scott Street is currently under renovation to make sure it has everything a budding gymnast will need to perform at their best.
RLGA President Jessica Ogden has been sharing visual updates on the progress inside 248 Scott Street, the site of the former Club 88, and she invited the Times in last week for a special sneak peek.
“It is a lot different from what it used to be,” Ogden said of the building.
The building interior has been almost entirely remade, though there is still work to be done. To date, new walls and doorways have been installed that will create a new entrance area, as well as provide enough space to allow emergency access in the event of an incident or injury. Work on removing the old bar and pool tables is almost complete, with only a few pieces left to remove from the building. And in order to cover up the bare walls and support braces, mats will be placed to give gymnasts a safe space to tumble.
The most drastic change, however, must be the flooring. While those familiar with the building in any of its previous incarnations might remember the tiered floor that sloped down towards the north side of the building, Ogden said contractor Tyson Dennis and his team have installed a new level floor with a few special additions that will make it a tumbler’s dream. One part that stands out is currently an open void, which Ogden said will fulfill a very particular purpose once work is done.
“It’s called an air pit,” she explained.
“It’s going to be almost like a bouncy castle. It blows up, so we plug it in and it has constant air. The gymnasts can run and tumble into it. It used to be a foam pit, but this is a cleaner thing to use instead.”
The new space the RLGA will be operating in is larger than the auditorium space at the Memorial Sports Centre, where they operated from during their first season. In addition to more space for equipment and gymnasts, the new space also means the RLGA won’t have to share it with other groups. One unexpected side effect of their previous arrangement meant frequent set-ups and tear-downs of their equipment, which was leading to faster than anticipated wear and tear, which in turn was reducing the expected lifespan of that gear. Overall, Ogden said the team is excited to watch the progress, especially as it continues towards completion.
“It will be exciting, on the 19th they’re bringing our spring floor,” she said.
“It was a lot of planning. They’ve been very patient with us, the questions we’ve had to answer and figure out. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s fun. We’re really looking forward to moving in to it. It’s going to be really good when we get to move in and have our Grand Opening.”
Coming up for the RLGA is their AGM, which will be held virtually on Wednesday, Jul 28 at 7:00 p.m. Parents of previously enrolled gymnasts and those interested in enrolling their children for the upcoming season are invited to attend the meeting, a link to which will be made available on the RLGA Facebook page. The club is also hard at work planning fundraising events, including a summer 50/50 draw.
Ogden said the club will be finalizing their plans both for gymnast registration for the 2021/22 season and a grand opening. While the RLGA has had to wait for work on the building to finish and COVID restrictions to lift, according to information from the club, the current plan is to have registration at the end of August and a Grand Opening on Wednesday, September 15. The RLGA is planning to keep parents informed of these dates when they are finalized, as well as what safety precautions the club will be taking regarding pick-ups and drop-offs at the Scott Street location and other possible parent concerns, in a future update and piece with the Times.
Ogden shared that the RLGA also wanted to extend their thanks to Dennis and the team at Beyak Automotive Group for their help in getting the building ready for gymnastics, and taking their input and requests for certain customizations to the building to suit their needs with patience.
For more information about the Rainy Lake Gymnastics Academy, visit their Facebook page. For anyone interested n volunteering their time as a coach, email the club at email@example.com for more information.