It was not the easiest place to find but the foggy windows gave away the location of the All Around Gymnastics Training Center at 5 Fanaras Drive in Salisbury.
Owner George Teazis invited me to the gym on April 3rd. Even on a rainy Friday late afternoon, I saw about thirty elementary-school aged kids actively involved in gymnastics. Hence, the foggy windows.
Three of the boys from the gym had done well enough at the state event in March to qualify for the New England Regionals held in Andover April 5th and I had a chance to chat with each of them before they attended the event.
Gabe Pelletier (11) is a fourth grader in Amesbury. He said his interest in gymnastics, and I suspect his parents’ as well, began, “when I started doing cartwheels in the living room.”
Gabe said his best event is the floor exercises although he really enjoys the rings, “because of doing dismounts and all that crazy stuff.”
Taylor Gigandet (11) is from Byfield and attends Newbury Elementary School. He told me that he started gymnastics about four years ago. “My sister was doing gymnastics and I would stay home and do nothing,” he said. “My mother asked if I wanted to start and I did. I really enjoy it.”
Taylor’s favorite event is his best event – high bar. “I get my highest scores on it and can do advanced tricks.” That ability earned Taylor the gold medal in the high bar and fifth overall at the New England Regionals on April 5th at Andover High School.
Noah Piotte (14) is from Haverhill. “My grandmother got me into gymnastics about four years ago,” he recalled. “She thought it would be good for me.”
Noah said that his favorite event is the rings because, “it takes the most strength.”
Noah is now the New England champion in the parallel bars. He also finished fourth overall at Andover.
“George (Teazis) is training me to be a coach,” added Noah. “I’ll probably help coach some of the older kids.”
Several days after the interview, George called me with the results of the New England Regionals and added that, “he was extremely pleased with how his boys did. We go at it all year and the boys have worked hard. They will now move up to a more difficult level and hopefully be ready to compete at that level by November/December.”
George reports that his facility is a busy place. “We have about 300-400 kids come here during a typical week. I say sometimes that my wife (Debbie) and I live here.”
“We have been here for about 15 years,” he said, “and I have been coaching for 34 years.” He laughed when he told me, “I just got a call from a former student who told me she wanted to bring her daughter here.”
Gymnastics are not easy, according to George. “It is the hardest sport in the world,” he explained. “Pound for pound gymnasts are the strongest athletes in the world. There is plenty of work involved to get good at it.”
Most of the gymnasts I have seen are not only strong but also short. “Size matters in gymnastics,” said George.
I learned that in competition gymnasts are not divided by age but by ability. “Older doesn’t mean anything in gymnastics,” he explained. “A seven or eight year old can be competing on the same level as someone fifteen or sixteen.”
“We enjoy teaching kids,” he added. “We think that they enjoy it here. It keeps some of them out of trouble. They learn about making a commitment to something positive which gives them a good sense for later life.”
(This story appeared in The Town Common on April 15th)