Features March 2018

Impact Gymnastics Academy: A Family Place

Impact Gymnastics Academy is a family-friendly gym that caters to kids who love gymnastics and to parents who love their kids. Located in Phoenix, Maria Lawrence and Samantha Baltierrez started a gymnastics academy that radiates in positivity and empowers young gymnasts to feel comfortable and happy while learning and practicing their sport.

Impact Gymnastics opened its door in September 2015 after Maria and Samantha realized that the gym they both previously worked at was creating an unpleasant environment for them and the students. They decided to team up and start their own academy with a more positive atmosphere for the kids.

At Impact, they believe that all kids should love to be there and they are all treated fairly. “We teach all levels and wanted to make our academy a place for everybody,” Maria said. “No one here is body-shamed or compared to others. Everyone here just loves gymnastics, regardless of being Olympic-bound or not. We give everyone an opportunity and wanted to create an environment where the students can value themselves and their work.”

In 2015, when the business was new, they started with a 10,000 square-foot space. Within two years of opening, they have already expanded to a 24,000 square-foot facility. With such a large space and so many students, staffing is very important. The founders wanted to be sure that every coach and staff member working at the facility comes with a positive attitude.

Gymnastics is often seen as a negative sport due to the challenges girls face being judged and constantly criticized for their looks and skills. Impact Gymnastics wanted to hire coaches that could boost self-esteem amongst students.

“We want people to know that at our gym, this is a recreational and fun sport, yet we can still produce champions,” Maria said.

Many of the coaches they have hired are former students of theirs from previous gyms and Maria’s oldest daughter was their first coach hired.

“I coached many of our coaches and it’s amazing to see them come back,” Samantha shared. “It’s so touching that I was what they remembered most from their days as students in the gym.”

Classes range in skill levels and serve children ages 6 months to 18 years. Impact teaches mostly female gymnasts, but there are also some coed classes including the Ninja Zone, which is a combination of gymnastics and martial arts. This is also a licensed course.

Impact Gymnastics prides itself on its parent-friendly atmosphere.

“We invite parents to stay, unlike many other gyms,” said Maria. “We have leather lounge chairs, free internet and high-top tables in our observation rooms. Parents can sit and watch, bring laptops and do work; we make it very comfortable. We want to ensure parents that the safety of our students is our top priority and our office doors are always open, so parents can come see us at any time.”

Impact Gymnastics has become a staple in the Valley and offers many different classes and even a competition team that travels throughout Arizona and the country. Kids are well-rounded here and are able to learn in a friendly and positive environment, no matter their level.

“I love that we have an opportunity to speak life to these young ladies. I love helping girls problem solve and make good decisions,” Maria said.

As for Samantha, “When girls walk into the gym, I want this to be their happy place. I think our team and our gym understands that and we are flexible with them.”

At Impact Gymnastics, it’s not the scores that are remembered, but the memories and the experience. Hence the business slogan: Have you made an IMPACT today? At Impact Gymnastics Academy, they are changing children and families, not just in gymnastics, but in life.

Photos courtesy of Cory Bruening

Written by: Rebecca Zaner


Rebecca Zaner

Rebecca Zaner has written many stories throughout the valley and enjoys having the ability to share community news, journeys and achievements. Holding a Bachelor of Music, Rebecca’s favorite place to be is the stage. Having been a singer all her life, Rebecca is now in pursuit of a professional performing career, singing opera and musical theatre (rebeccazaner.com). Also an avid photographer, Rebecca owns a photography business, Rebecca Kaye Photography (rebeccakayephoto.wix.com/rebeccakaye). She enjoys the natural beauty of Arizona and can be found spending her free time exploring and traveling with her family.

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