Palm Coast Gymnastics' team is competing well early this season.
Kelly Flagler always wanted to own her own gym.
Flagler used to be a gymnast at the University of Florida, which is historically one of the top programs in the country. She graduated from UF in 2004. By 2006, she had opened up Palm Coast Gymnastics.
“It was always a dream of mine,” she said. “Palm Coast just seemed like the perfect place to do it.”
The original gym was a 4,000-square-foot facility on Enterprise Drive. But a few months into her new job, she and her staff realized they needed a bigger space. Nearly 1 1/2 years later, she opened up a new gym, a 9,000-square-foot facility, at 303 Old Moody Blvd. — near the Flagler County Airport — where it’s been ever since.
"We're a very consistent program. We have high expectations."
KELLY FLAGLER, Owner of Palm Coast Gymnastics
Gymnastics training is a year-round endeavor. Nearly 300 students, ages 18 months to 17 years, pour into Flagler’s gym throughout the year.
Flagler considers herself somewhat of a mother figure to her students. She keeps in touch with many of them — even when they graduate from high school. Some of her former students have children training at the gym.
“I spend so much time with them,” she said. “We have a very special bond. It’s more of a family-type gym.”
The competitive team, which you have to tryout for, has about 40 kids of various skill levels.
They balance their gymnastics training, their strength training, their nutrition, their families and their school work.
The competitive season runs from late January to April. Palm Coast Gymnastics has competed in three events so far — the ESPN Wide World of Sports meet, the Daytona Beach Open and at the Presidential. Every one of Palm Coast’s teams placed in the top three at each meet, some of which had more than 1,000 kids competing.
One student, 9-year-old Josephine Imperati, scored a 10 on the bars at the Presidential.
She did a glide swing, pulled herself over the bar, did a back hip circle, then did a straddle-on before she stuck the landing. It was her first time receiving a perfect score.
“It just makes me feel so good,” said Imperati, who competes in the Xcel Silver division.
The goal for all of Palm Coast’s competitors, however, is to make it to Nationals at the end of the season.
And what will that take?
“Hard work and dedication,” Imperati said.
Fifteen-year-old Brianna Tucker, who competes in Level 9, added: “ I think we’re going to go really far. I really believe in our team.”