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Kids tumble for new program

Twist-N-Tumble instructor Lynn Bauman worked with a couple of her new gymnastics students on Monday. Bauman is also the varsity gymnastics coach at FHS.

Lynn Bauman figured there would be some interest in gymnastics if a program were available in Farmington. But she didn't realize how popular the option would be.

When she started working with Community Education and Farmington High School athletics director Jon Summer to set up a new, year-round gymnastics school in Farmington, Bauman figured she would draw 50, maybe 70 participants.

She was more than a little surprised, then, when more than 240 kids and teens registered for the first few classes of the new Twist-N-Tumble program offered by Community Ed.

An FHS graduate and the only Farmington gymnast to have earn an individual title at the state level, Bauman -- formerly, Lynn Gramnetz -- now coaches the Farmington High School varsity gymnastics team. Recognizing that getting an early start in the sport often helps gymnasts to compete better when they get older, Bauman admits to pushing for a local program for a while.

"I've been bugging Jon Summers about it," she said. "He and I eventually decided to take it to Community Ed."

Room to move

In a roundabout way, the opening of the new Farmington High School last year helped in forming Twist-N-Tumble. See, for a long time, the gymnastics program had to share space at the old FHS, now Boeckman Middle School. There was only so much room for all of the mats, bars, beams and pits gymnastics require, and once the varsity season was over, all that equipment was put in storage.

When the new FHS opened, it started a trickle-down effect in loosening up storage and facility space around the school district - and that included opening up the gymnasium space in the former Kindergarten Center, now home to the Instructional Services Center.

And that's nice, too, Bauman said, because the lack of storage and gym space hindered the amount of equipment the gymnastics program owned.

"Now we have the whole thing," Bauman said. "We've got the locker room, the concession stand, stage. We have a lot of space, so we have room to grow with more equipment."

She understands some parents may bring their kids in and compare Twist-N-Tumble to other gymnastics schools in the area. And they probably will not see as much equipment. That's okay, Bauman said - more will be purchased as the program grows, especially now that there's a place to set it up and keep it up all year long.

First up on the shopping list is a tumble track, a long trampoline that can be used to train for all events.

Overwhelming response

When Bauman found out most of the classes offered had been completely filled, she was both surprised and excited. Her first day of teaching in the new school was Monday.

She'll rely on the help of a few others. Beth Moore, the assistant varsity gymnastics coach and a longtime friend - and a former competitor of Bauman's - is helping out with several of the daytime sessions. Nick Tews, a gymnast who now does specialized training with high school students, will run the off-season high school program. FHS seniors Erin Hickey and Terra Klima and Apple Valley High School student Kelsie Long -- whom Bauman has coached in off-season competition -- are also helping at Twist-N-Tumble.

An early start

It's probably good Bauman has help, because there were originally 14 classes offered, and most of them had been filled by this week. Classes include toddler (age 2), preschool (ages 3-4), beginner (age 5 and older) and advanced beginner.

Bauman herself started gymnastics at the age of 4 years. Her mom had enrolled her in dance classes, but it soon became evident Bauman had her own ideas.

"She kept putting me in dance and all I wanted to do was tumble. I had to go through two dance studios before she realized that all I wanted to do was tumble," Bauman said.

She started gymnastics through a Lakeville community ed program, then joined TAGS at at 7. By age 8, she was on a traveling team through TAGS, and at age 10, she went to state for club gymnastics and won the state title for her age group.

"That was my 10th birthday," she said, "and I won the whole thing. My dad bought me some opal earrings and I think I wore them for that meet."

She was on Farmington's varsity team by eighth grade, and went to state for the first time as a freshman. She earned the state title for the floor event as a sophomore, and probably would have continued on her streak as a junior if not for a fall during a beam routine that injured her head. Ironically, she went on to take sixth place in the beam event at state that same year.

Considering her own successes, Bauman knows getting an early start in gymnastics can help kids excel in the program as they get older. But there are more benefits to be had, she said.

"It's good for the young ones to learn to listen to another adult besides their parents. It teaches a lot of hand-eye coordination, large motor skills, fine motor skills, dexterity, flexibility, balance.... Gymnastics does take a lot of focus. It's a lot of mind games. Definitely a 'mind over matter' thing, which then transfers over into daily life," Bauman said.

Session 1 may be full, but more classes will be offered later this fall. The class schedule will differ slightly, Bauman said, as the offerings will be set around the FHS varsity gymnastics schedule.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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