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Women in Business

Byers grows by leaps and bounds

Roseville gym helps kids shine
By: Stephanie Garcia, Press Tribune Correspondent
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Byers Gymnastics Center
Where: 2009 Opportunity Drive, Roseville
Info: (916) 781-2939; www.byersgym.com

Founded in 1972, Byers Gymnastics Center has been a staple in the community. Now owned by Vikki Thompson and Rhonda Hawkins, the gym has four thriving locations, including Roseville, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove and Sacramento. If you haven’t attended a class there, chances are you know someone who has.

Rhonda Hawkins has been the head coach and team manager since 1993 and says the company is not just a place to learn gymnastics: “Gymnastics has developed into tumbling and trampoline, acrobatics, cheerleading, parkour, skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding, just to name a few.”

Thompson works at the Roseville location and manages about 30 instructors with about 900 students.

“We are a training facility from the time gymnasts are walking all the way up to competitive level 10 athletes,” Thompson said. “Some kids really excel in (the competitive) program and are able to develop their skills to an optimum level. Some even earn college scholarships from their experience competing at Byers.”

Both owners believe gymnastics is for everyone and can teach athletes life skills as well as physical gains: Perseverance, goal setting, discipline, strength, flexibility and focus are all traits that can help individuals with all aspects of life,” Hawkins said.

Aside from gymnastic classes for toddlers to teenagers, the gym also serves as a venue for birthday parties, parents’ nights out, field trips and camps. Recently, the Citrus Heights location opened a course for children with autism. Hawkins says these extras make Byers unique.

“There aren't many sports that you can participate in when your child is just learning to walk. By bringing kids to the gym at an early age — even if it's only for a couple of years — they will grow in areas that a parent never thought possible,” Hawkins said. “It's amazing what a 2-year-old can do who’s been coming for a year.”

One young man has reaped the benefits of the longevity of this gym and the loving coaches who taught him. This child was born with a rare genetic condition in which his muscular coordination was greatly affected. At 3 years old, he was barely walking, so his mom enrolled him in Rhonda Hawkins’ toddler class.

“When I told him he had to climb out of our pit on his own, he did, and he just took off from there,” Hawkins said. “He was in our program for five years, in which time he learned cartwheels and round-offs. He vaulted, pulled over on the bars, could step up and walk all directions on a 4-inch balance beam, and his confidence went through the roof.”

The young man ended up competing on a special-needs cheerleading group as a teenager, graduated high school with honors and now attends Sierra College: “I truly believe gymnastics improved his life dramatically,” Hawkins said.

Trisa Endicott has also experienced the benefits of Byers gym. Her daughter, Julia, 13, has been a student at the Roseville location for a little over nine years and competes on the team as a level 10 athlete.

“This gym has great coaches and is a safe and happy environment,” Endicott said. “We have wonderful teammates and a wonderful family here.”

From adding classes for popular sports to holding private events, the future looks bright for the ladies of Byers Gym.

“Currently we are just an artistic gym, but in five years we would like to grow into other areas of the sport and be able to add some of the disciplines to our gym,” Hawkins said.

Every year the gym opens for “Byers Birthday Bash.” This year the event will be held Sunday, Nov. 17, from 1-3 p.m. at the Roseville location. This event is free to the public and features cake, balloons, gym time, raffle prizes and more. For more information, visit www.byersgym.com.