A group of adult gymnasts are getting a chance to show the public what they can do and help others at the same time.
World Class Gymnastics Academy’s adult class is performing an exhibition Sunday, Aug. 24, at 1 p.m. at its Latham gym on Columbia Street Extension. Proceeds from the show benefit STRIDE Adaptive Sports, which helps people with special needs participate in various athletic activities.
“Once we got going (with planning the show), we started thinking as a group about what we could do to benefit something,” said Eric Weiskopf, who teaches the class. “When I learned about STRIDE, I thought this kind of fits because we do some things for kids with disabilities (at World Class), and STRIDE does sports for people with disabilities. So I brought the idea to the group about doing this for STRIDE, and they liked it.”
The exhibition will feature Weiskopf’s students performing a variety of events including floor exercise, vault, rings and uneven bars. This is the first time many of the students in Weiskopf’s class have performed gymnastics in front of the public, and they said they were excited about the show.
“I never played a sport in high school, and I wanted to do something athletic. So I came to this class about a year ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” said John Mickel, a Colonie native now living in Troy.
“I’m not doing much in the show … but I think it’s really good for the class,” said Bridgit Goldman of Albany, who attends the class with her husband, Richard. “It’s great we’re getting the opportunity to showcase what we’re doing in the class, and it’s for a great cause.”
Weiskopf started offering an adult class at World Class in 2002 with the goal of helping students get good enough to compete at the Empire State Games. But before he could send one of his students to the statewide Olympic-style competition, the Empire State Games lost their funding and folded. The fundraiser is his first chance to give students the opportunity to perform.
“Everything we do is based on personal goals,” said Weiskopf, a Latham native. “Some people want to do this for flexibility. Some of them want to do it for strength training. Sometimes, it’s a little bit of both. So, we start very conservatively with their training until they become comfortable.”
Goldman said she decided to take Weiskopf’s class based on what one of her two daughters – both World Class students – told her and her huband about him.
“When one of my daughters had to take a make-up class, she had coach Eric,” said Goldman. “She had such a wonderful time, we told him about it – and that’s when he told us about this adult class.
“We joined at the same time to do something together. We were both new at it, so it was kind of cool,” she added.
Amy Sadlon of Guilder-land said she wanted to take the class so she could continue a gymnastics career that started when she was very young.
“I started when I was 4, so I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now,” said Sadlon. “I competed until I was 9, which was when I got injured. I’d been searching for an opportunity to get back into it ever since. Almost three years ago, I started back with an adult class here, and I’ve been a faithful student ever since.”
Weiskopf said whatever the students’ experience level is coming into his adult class, the common goal is the same.
“It’s not what you can do, but how you progress. It’s the journey,” said Weiskopf.
Each student has his or her own memory of the moment they discovered they can perform gymnastics routines.
“For me, it was finally doing a roundoff back handspring,” said Mickel. “Once I did that, everything started falling into place.”
“I have two favorite moments,” added Goldman. “One was jumping on the vault. I was scared to even run up to the vault because you have to know where to land (on the trampoline) and where to put your hands and where to hit. When I did it, it was amazing.
“The other was when I tried my first handstand. Coach Eric did a very good job of spotting me so I didn’t land on my head.”
On Sunday, Weiskopf’s students will have the chance to show the public what they can do.
“When you think about what they can do in one 90-minute class a week, it’s pretty amazing,” said Weiskopf.
Associate editor/sports editor