Gymfinity Gymnastics Sports Academy is Blaenau Gwent's only dedicated gymnastics, dance and cheerleading facillity with World Champion Coach Zoe Reed. Based in Tredegar, the gym includes full sprung floor, marley dance floor, gymnastics equipment and air track.
Gymfinity also has an athlete homework area and a parents viewing room including a birds eye window and a wide screen TV providing a live feed of all the activity going on in the gym.
Address: Unit 5, Sirhowy Industrial Estate,Tredegar
Phone: 07452 839782
I’m Joelle Campbell and I am a Business Advisor working for Social Business Wales. I started working with Gymfinity at a really exciting time, they were just about to sign the lease for their premises and had purchased a huge sprung floor, beams and apparatus needed to run a gymnastics academy. I provided legal structure support and helped them to register as a company limited by guarantee, to make sure that the directors had personal protection and that they had the right legal status to allow them to enter into contracts and apply for grants.
As they’ve grown and taken on staff, I’ve been able to bring in HR support to ensure all of their systems, policies and procedures are in place. The same too with their environmental management systems, to ensure they operate as green as possible. Over the last year, the biggest support I’ve been able to provide, is just by being there - being at the end of the phone, email or text to offer support, guidance and signposting as they face new challenges and opportunities. What Gymfinity has achieved in just 12 months and how they’ve done it, has been inspirational to watch and be a part of.
Gymfinity - Zoe's Story
Gymnastics has always been part of my life. I had a bit of a broken family growing up and my grandparents took me to gym classes to improve my confidence and give me an activity outside of school. I’ve been doing it ever since and it’s always been a dream of mine to own my own gymnastics and dance training club.
I started classes when I was 11 and by the time I was 12 I was already helping in the gym. First it was just helping out with the little ones, making sure they stood in a straight line, taking them back and forth to the toilet, doing little side activities; that kind of thing. But I was quickly told ‘you’re going to have your own group now’; two hours of coaching a week turned into four, and then eventually it tuned into a job.
As well as being a social and physical activity, gymnastics has massively boosted my confidence and allowed me to do lots of new and exciting things. It’s lead to many positive experiences for me and I wanted to share those experiences that I had growing up, with my community.
Blaenau Gwent is quite a deprived area, there’s not a lot going on around here and, it sounds awful, but there are a lot of bad things happening too. So when my husband and I set up Gymfinity in September 2016, we wanted to give back to the Blaenau Gwent community, to give them access to sport and physical activity, and to pass on the life skills I gained from gymnastics.
We run numerous activities ranging from gymnastics and cheerleading, to tumbling and dance. We have pre-school classes; where the children just have to be able to walk to take part; adult keep fit classes and classes where you just take part for fun. We also have the elite route, where you take part to become competitive, which is what I ended up doing when I was younger.
Our prices are very low; I think we’re one of the least expensive clubs in Wales, but we need to put some cost into our services or we can’t run. In the future we’d like to set up an access hub, where families who don’t have the money can still join in, even if it’s just for one hour a week. We’d love to help those who ordinarily couldn’t afford to pay for classes have access to the benefits of the club.
I think Gymfinity has already had a very positive impact in the community. It’s allowed a lot of young people to have access to sport and physical activity which they wouldn’t have had before; especially girls and young women, who at the moment, don’t have a lot of options in the area. But now they’re taking part in physical activity from between one and twelve hours a week. When they go to the gym they become more confident, they’re fitter and more physically able and have a much healthier lifestyle.
There’s obviously the social aspect as well, rather than going out on the streets, they’re meeting their friends in a safe environment and doing something positive. It’s really fulfilling to see young people around their friends, learning new things, progressing their skills and seeing them happy and smiling.
It’s a great, fun environment and everybody seems to love coming here. Parent’s from the community come in and say, ‘I don’t know what I would do if you weren’t here, I don’t know what my children would be doing’. They refer to Gymfinity as their second family; it’s brilliant to be able to bring the community together. It’s actually quite emotional thinking about it.
May 2018 is going to be a big month for us; we’ve got 29 athletes going to Las Vegas to represent Great Britain in a cheerleading competition. We’ll also be bringing 86 parents and supporters, so over the next six months we’ll be doing lots of fundraising to make sure everyone can go. Coming from a deprived area means that not everyone has the money for holidays, let alone a trip to Las Vegas, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re going to make sure that everyone has the chance to go and represent their country. I’m very excited, it’s an amazing achievement; I hope it gives our athletes experiences that will make them proud of themselves and ambitious for the future.
Speaking of the future; we’d like to continue to grow the club and offer more opportunities for young people and adults. At the moment we only have a few coaches at the gym but we’d love to eventually provide more jobs for the community. We’d also like for our young people to take a role within the coaching of groups, providing them opportunities to become young leaders and then qualified coaches.
Something that we’re building on at the moment is providing access to opportunities for the young members of the community to gain leadership skills. When they get to a certain age at school and start UCAS applications, coaching can give them points towards further education. We’re trying to get funding at the moment to send our members on a Young Leaders course, which is something I’m really big on.
In my opinion, when you take part in gymnastics, you learn fundamental physical skills that give you access to all sports in future. And with the young leaders course, if they decide that they don’t want to take part in those sports for whatever reasons, they will have also gained skills which help them get ready for the world of work.
It means that even if they end up not continuing with gymnastics, or not in a competitive environment, then can still have access to the club via coaching. You only have to be 13 to start the course, which is fantastic; it will really help set them up for life, because whatever job they go into, leadership skills are important. If some of those new young coaches went on to give back to the community again, it would be very fulfilling and make me really happy.
It’s been quite a year! I’m so proud, but when I think about everything we’ve achieved I sometimes want to shake myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. It’s mind-blowing really, but I’m very happy and looking forward to the future of Gymfinity.