Teacher Spotlight: ChalkHeadZ Style Gym Class.
By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer.
Teacher Spotlight is a presentation by the Shelby State Bank, with offices in Ludington, Pentwater, Shelby, Hart, Hesperia, Manistee, Montague, Whitehall, North Muskegon and Fruitport.
PERE MARQUETTE TWP – Kathy Bootz and her coaching team from ChalkHeadZ Gymnastics, 5042 W. First St., have loved the sport for many years. Bootz opened ChalkHeadZ with her husband Luke four years ago and they’ve taught gymnastics to boys and girls of different ages. Bootz originally started training with Sheryl DeWeerd when she owned Flipstar Gymnastics. Bootz worked there for 10 years before starting her own business.
“I’ve been the owner of ChalkHeadZ for four years, but I’ve been training for 14 years,” said Bootz. “There are many things that are very important in coaching. I think some of the most important things to me are the connection with the children and families here. This is a place for kids to get away from the things in their home or school and focus on themselves and not worry about what might happen in their life. Planning and preparing the lessons for the children and the parents is something that I find very important. It is always so important to engage with children and watch them grow and succeed. “
ChalkHeadZ offers a variety of courses for many different skill levels, taught by a few different trainers.
Coach Alycia Peterson said many people don’t really understand the difficulty of the sport itself or what it can do for an athlete’s body and health.
“Gymnastics is not an easy sport,” she says. “It’s nice, but also extremely difficult. Athletes train hard and can work off both physically and mentally. For a gymnast to perform satisfactorily, he must be hydrated, eat well, and have good rest / sleep. Gymnasts learn to listen to their bodies and make better decisions when it comes to their overall health. Their healthy experiences and remarkable rewards show the public what it means to have an overall healthy and balanced athlete. Exercise can make anyone the healthiest person they’ve ever been, and that’s for the best. “
Trainer Lexy Cornwall said she also believes that gymnastics is a great opportunity for any gymnast to become more aware of their body, skills and general wellbeing.
“I love gymnastics when it comes to health and wellness,” she said. “Children need a place where they can be silly, learn new tricks, make friends, build a team bond, and at the same time learn how to protect their bodies through strength, flexibility, and technology.”
All ChalkHeadZ coaches agree that gymnastics can be a great starting point for any child looking to develop skills for any sport of their choice. This is one of the main reasons Bootz got into the sport in the first place. Bootz’s daughter Avah Anthes started gymnastics at the age of 3 and has grown in the sport and done very well. This fall, she will be attending Central Michigan University as a freshman on the university’s gymnastics team.
“Gymnastics provides a great foundation for athletes who want to do any sport,” said Peterson. “Gymnasts develop strength, flexibility, balance, flexibility and coordination through hours of training. Gymnastics teaches athletes resilience and mental strength. It’s a sport that keeps falling, but you have to keep getting up to be successful. Gymnastics is not only a basis for sport, but also a basis for life skills. Gymnastics requires children to stand in line, take turns using equipment, cleaning up after themselves, and listening to and applying feedback from a trainer. These things develop real skills such as patience, the ability to follow instructions, be quiet, and respect others. Gymnastics teaches athletes commitment, dedication, respect, time management and builds self-confidence and self-esteem for a lifetime. “
Bootz himself understands how important gymnastics can be in developing lifelong skills. Her three children are all in the gym, coaching and assisting in class, but being able to have a place for their daughter to train so meeting the expectations she wanted to achieve was a real blessing.
“I have a daughter who wanted to be a college gymnast,” said Bootz. “There weren’t any gyms in this area that offered the Junior Olympic program she needed, and we couldn’t commute out of town, so ChalkHeadZ was born and started training. The amazing thing is that my daughter has just signed up with CMU to compete for her gymnastics team this fall. She is also the only gymnast in the Mason County area to have reached a JO-Level 10, and that is signed with a Division 1 school. “
Whether in the gym or out in the real world, Bootz and her trainers believe that gymnastics has all the qualities to shape themselves into strong and confident individuals, even if they got into the sport with little courage and no prior exposure.
“I think gymnastics is such a good sport to get involved because you are always trying to improve,” said coach Haley Stakenas. “You set your own goals and gain confidence by achieving those goals and maybe even going beyond what you thought possible. I’ve been with ChalkHeadZ for about three years, coaching the preschool and toddler classes. This age group is so important because it really arouses children’s interest in gymnastics and they can get excited about learning their basic skills. “
Information about ChalkHeadZ and the courses offered can be found online at chalkheadz.com, on Facebook or by phone at 231.843.007.
“I think my role as a coach and owner affects everyone who steps through the door of ChalkHeadZ,” said Bootz. “I try my best to make every family and child feel welcome and that ChalkHeadZ is a place that everyone can participate. My employees are affected by me, and so is my family. My employees have become part of my family. I treat them like my children because I am older than everyone else. But I also make them feel like they are equal. I want them to feel important and not just have a job but a home, a person who supports them and cares not only about their coaching but also about their lives. I only recently realized how lucky I am to have staff who have been carefully selected, who do their job beyond what I expected and that shows me that we are a team in so many ways positively influenced and that we are building a fitness studio that is different. “
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