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June 28, 2005 > Bay Aerials Gymnastics

Bay Aerials Gymnastics

by Tina Cuccia

Bring a smile and bare feet, that's all it takes, said Bay Aerials Gymnastics owner Lisa Aguirre, 43. Bay Aerials Gymnastics is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month.

"It's been an incredible year," Aguirre said, adding, "I can look back and see the incredible impact the gym has made for so many kids and young athletes."

Since Aguirre and her husband became the new owners of the 25-year old gym, they've enhanced it to include something for every age and level.

"Our goal was to grow the program to be something for everyone," Aguirre said. "We wanted to keep high level teams, but we also wanted it to be a place for all ages and levels."

Bay Aerials Gymnastics has become just that. Stop by the Davenport Place gym and you'll find a scene filled with talented young gymnasts practicing jumps and flips on the floor, over the vaulting horse, and on high and low balance beams. And if you grabbed a brochure on your way in, you'll learn the gym offers summer camps and "Birthday Blasts," for preschoolers to age 18.

In her youth, Aguirre was a gymnast herself, something she credits to Olympian Olga Korbut, the Belarusian gymnast who almost single-handedly turned women's gymnastics into the popular sport it is today. After 12-year-old Aguirre saw Korbut compete in the 1972 Olympics, she said that was it. She wanted to be just like her.

"My mom did all she could to find a program for me so I could flip and fly like Olga," Aguirre said. "I used to jump on all of the furniture at home - I rearranged it so I could jump from the couch to the table and on all of the furniture."

Her first accomplishment in gymnastics was mastering what is known as the "back walkover," which has the gymnast leaning backward by arching her back, touching the ground with her hands and then flipping her legs over. Back walkovers can be done with or without hands.

As Aguirre progressed as a gymnast, she said she loved "floor" exercise even though she performed best on the balance beam.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, she eventually competed for the YMCA, New York. She began coaching at 16 with the ambition to one day have her own gym.

"I started competing right away and was put on a team," she said. "But it was a lot different back then. The levels were lower and the rules and regulations we different. Now, you have to have about a year or more before you can join a team, but you can never tell. It's not really set."

She said that the changes in the sport of gymnastics over the years have all been good. "Coaches are more knowledgeable and children are trained better."

Bay Aerials Gymnastics boasts several promising students including, Amanda Spinner, 13, and Emily Ota, 14, both of whom have won "all-around" first place titles in the Western National Championships. Getting there isn't easy, however. It takes long hours and many days at the gym.

For example, before a student can begin competing, she or he must be at least 7 years old. Levels begin at five and continue through level 10, and then on to the elite status. With each new level come added hours and days per week at the gym for the gymnasts to master their skills.

"They learn at an early age that they have to budget their time," said Jay Dore, a father of one of Bay Aerials Gymnastics gymnasts Kaitlin Dore, 12. "It's been great for our daughter. We've had a lot of success there [Bay Aerials Gymnastics] and I think it's due to the coaching. All of the coaches are certified to coach at any level, and they are good at developing skills. There is a real progression used to develop skills, which is one of the keys to safety."

At Bay Aerial Gymnastics, aspiring student gymnasts develop individual skills such as self-confidence, poise, individuality, mental and physical discipline, determination and self respect, as part of a team. They also develop an appreciation for a dedicated effort, plus they get the opportunity to form close relationships with other young athletes who have similar goals.

"We have small classes -- about six to eight students per class -- and highly qualified coaches with many years of experience," Aguirre said. In addition, the staff believes that encouragement and positive feedback yields a gymnast who develops and enjoys the sport to the fullest. "We offer a happy, energetic atmosphere and a safe wonderful place to come and be fit and learn an amazing sport."

For more information on the Bay Aerials visit or call (510) 651-5870.

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