The Peak Elite Gymnastics Academy is definitely a family affair.
Three couples — Monée Johnston and her husband Chris, Madison and Heath Webb and Jenn and Scott Stimpson — are running the show at the outfit on Southwest Hills Road, with the women, all former competitive gymnasts, leading the coaching corps and the men handling more of the administrative tasks.
As in almost any family business, though, everybody does a bit of everything. But to help keep folks straight at the bustling complex, the three women have “coach” on the back of their T-shirts and the men have “owner” on the back of theirs. And, again in following the family business model, the couples’ combined seven children also are on the premises.
But they have a lot of company. There are dozens of young athletes going through their paces on the mats in the massive 15,000-square-foot facility. There are children hanging out with their parents in the family waiting area and more kids on the lawn outside … and arriving in vans.
“We’ve exceeded all of our growth expectations,” said Scott Stimpson on Monday. “We signed up four new people today.”
The academy is closing in on 240 members, with the age ranging from toddlers to adults. They have 22 employees. And because PEGA is the only USA Gymnastics-certified organization between Salem and Eugene, it is a regional draw. About 75 members live in Albany and another 50 in Lebanon. The academy offers recreational classes and elite-level training as well as parkour and "Ninja warrior" classes.
The building has been used as a gymnastics facility for the past 13 years under two different ownership groups. PEGA took control of the building Sept. 1, with Heath Webb noting “it was a smooth transition. We had an excellent retention rate” among those who were training with the earlier owners.
In fact, one of the logistical hurdles the academy is trying to surmount is that its parking lot is always full.
The group is abuzz with plans for the future and hopes to next year reopen a preschool that used to occupy part of the building. They would love to be able to offer elite-level men’s classes, but they just don’t have the room for the equipment. An upgraded concession stand and a better family view area are being planned. A future expansion is possible, either on the property on West Hills or perhaps in Linn County.
For the short term, Monée Johnston said, they are focusing on making sure the center's current equipment is at the highest level, including rails, beams, mats and the foam pit.
The academy also has absorbed more than a dozen athletes from the Oregon State Gymnastics Academy, which shut down on short notice at the end of August. Head coach Tanya Chaplin cited state regulations, NCAA compliance rules and OSU policies and facility issues in a letter to parents announcing the change.
“A good number of those girls have come over,” said Madison Webb. “The two clubs have always been friendly.”
“We’re letting them sort of try us out and attempting to be accommodating,” Heath Webb said.
“We welcome any of the athletes who want to come,” Monée Johnston said. “This is still recent and the girls still are making their decisions about whether they want to continue.”