Ponoka Gymnastics Club looking for a permanent home

Reflections of Ponoka

The 1960 to 1970 members of the Ponoka Gymnastic Club enjoy climbing and swinging from the ceiling of the elementary school gymnasium during club activities.   Call it brotherly love

The 1960 to 1970 members of the Ponoka Gymnastic Club enjoy climbing and swinging from the ceiling of the elementary school gymnasium during club activities. Call it brotherly love

It was way back in 1963 that the Ponoka Gymnastic Club was formed to give energetic young boys and girls from tinys to teens the opportunity of taking part in an exciting and invigorating sport that features lots of keen exercise and fun. The real great advantage of the gymnastics program is that participants can start at a very young age and safely learn the basics in an enjoyable atmosphere with buddies and new friends.

The various components of gymnastics include: tumbling, pummel horse, rings, long horse, vault, parallel bars, horizontal bar and trampoline. Early instructions of gymnastics for beginners features simple somersaults, handstands and all sorts of flip-flops on soft tumbling mats that are quite soft to land on. As students progress they are given the opportunity to advance into the many facets of the program at their own speed and ability, with the many benefits along the way including developing balance, endurance, flexibility, strength and confidence within an enjoyable team concept where everyone assists and encourages each other.

It all began in the Elementary School gym

Long-standing and popular Ponoka Elementary School teacher Mr. Nick Kohlman introduced many parents and former students over the years in our community to the wonders, fun, and skills of gymnastics. The program became so popular that the need for an after-school/evening Gymnastic Club was soon realized, and the extra activities were held in that same school gymnasium where it all began. In those early years the new Gymnastic Club would play host to as many as 200 young members in their hectic fall and winter seasons.

As many of the younger students progressed through the rigorous gymnastic programs they were always encouraged and willingly helped to assist the ever-increasing flock of excited newcomers. With the extreme growth and popularity of the local club more qualified coaches were hired, and members were given the opportunity to also compete in many local, central, provincial, and national competitions; as well as to earn scholarships to further their education.

A strong board and the ongoing support of parents and community have also been very important in the ongoing success of the club. Some of the early presidents included Dunc Grant and Margaret McKay, who along with others led the Board and a host of volunteers in many fund-raising efforts to keep the Ponoka and district club operating for over 45 exciting years. In those humble beginnings Ponoka was one of the first small towns in Central Alberta to have their own Gymnastic Club.

Of course our Ponoka Gymnastic and Trampoline Club is still going strong in their avid ongoing efforts to give boys and girls from town and districts the unique opportunity to take part in this great and healthful sport. Unfortunately at this point due to heavy schedules in the schools, and the need to store and move the heavy gym equipment for each meet, the progress and activities of the club have been reduced to one four hour session a week, and very little space for new members. 

The major wish of this self-sufficient club is to advance and increase their programs. This dream can only be realized for the Ponoka Gymnastic Club if they can acquire some land and build their own permanent gymnastic facility; one that will not only serve the needs for their youth programs seven days a week all year round, but will also present many new and exciting activities for countless other groups and individuals to share. These added programs could include: recreational gymnastics, family or individual gymnastic groups, aerobic and rhythmic gymnastics, parents and tots, fitness for seniors, boot camps, outdoor fun programs, fitness programs to prepare for other sports, pre-school programs, a meeting place for small club and special events, special programs for special needs children and adults and on and on.

The non-profit society have been working tenaciously, and already have plans in place for the proposed new bright, spacious and fully equipped facility, but have run into problems finding a two acre spot of land on which to locate. Kindly donations toward the exciting project have already exceeded $200,000, but other fundraising, donations and support will be required to put the final touches on the construction of the approximately $500,000 community project.

The Ponoka Gymnastics and Trampoline Club are committed to exploring all options and means to make this wonderful community vision a reality. They are determined to do their very best to succeed, not only to carry on the keen tradition of exercise and fun through gymnastic activity, but also out of respect and appreciation to all of their community members and volunteers who have avidly supported and given so much to the organization for nearly half a century. They strongly feel that gymnastics has and hopefully always will continue to play a big role in creating a well-rounded recreational oriented community for all age brackets and walks of life. Those wishing information or to kindly donate or assist this exciting project in any way are urged to get in touch with Gymnastic Club president Kristine Boser at 403-704-1181 or kristine.boser@telus.net or treasurer Annette Fenske at 403-783-6724 fensker@explornet.ca.