Dynamyx Gymnastics' season may have come to an abrupt halt amid COVID-19, but plans to move into their new facility this fall haven't.
Programs and activities were temporarily suspended in March, and coaches began posting training and exercise classes online as a way of keeping in touch with gymnasts. Dynamyx and other gyms in the province won't be able to bring athletes back until Phase 3 of the province's reopening plan.
With the lease on its old facility ending at the end of September, the non-profit will have to forge ahead to make sure its members are prepared to move into their new space this fall, said Raeann Lefebvre, Dynamyx president.
"If we can get possession for the new building early September, that would be great, because then it gives us time to make the move over and then we can have a grand opening and all of that for the beginning of October," she said.
In February, Dynamyx celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for its new gym in Campbell Business Park. Once finished, the gymnastics club will take up the largest bay at 24,512 sq. ft.
The build-out has progressed over the last few months. The walls and the ceiling are up, and the developer will be putting in windows and enclosing the space in the coming weeks before pouring the new floor.
Being able to keep up with rent on the old facility is challenging while programming and activities are still shut down, and the organization is struggling at the moment with monthly rent payments while fundraising for the new facility.
Dynamyx Gymnastics has applied for the City of St. Albert's capital project grant to match up to a third of contributions to the new building, and the CFEP small funding grant matching up to 50 per cent.
Both grants combined only make up about one-third of the cost of the new facility, and the funds aren't guaranteed, said Kim Farrell, executive director.
Overall, grants, fundraisers and casinos combined only make up about five to 10 per cent of the organization's annual revenue. The remainder comes from the programs they offer.
“When you have no income coming in and you're not-for-profit, it's really hard to continue to be successful. And then we have the double obstacle now of the new facility," said Cathy Schwer, former president.
To generate some income, Dynamyx is hosting a 50/50 raffle on June 30. Funds raised will help support the club and go towards program expenses, purchasing new equipment, and other operational costs.
The club has also partnered with Edmonton-based Print Machine in their #HereForGood t-shirt campaign, where people can buy a t-shirt in support of Dynamyx and other local businesses. An ongoing bottle drive has also been organized to schedule pickup and donations for Saturday, May 30, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Gymnastics transitions online
Missing a large chunk of their fitness routine has been a challenging transition for Dynamyx athletes. Some athletes have gone from spending 18 to 22 hours a weekend at the facility to being shut out of the gym altogether, Schwer said.
“To have these high-energy athletes sitting at home with no outlet has been very difficult,” she said. “So that’s why we’ve been bringing back a bit of the training, even though we can’t do 80 per cent of what we used to do. It is channelling their energy and getting them to focus more for the day.”
Kelly Baird, head coach, has helped Dynamyx members transition some of their personal training exercises online three times a week for competitive athletes.
“It just keeps them fit and focused, and gives them some time with their teammates,” Baird said.
Next week, Dynamyx will be trialling online recreational classes with St. Albert athletes, she said, and the gym’s coaches are “very enthusiastic” about the rollout. Registration is available through their website.
While online classes have helped, the experience is different without being able to use the equipment and space available at the gym.
Lefebvre is a parent to two gymnasts at the club. While her boys have been able to stay active at home, she said they miss being able to hone their skills at the gym.
“They just miss doing gymnastics in general – the flips, and the bar, the rings, every part of it. Luckily they have a pommel at home, and they have been doing a lot of activity on that pommel, let me tell you. But I do miss watching them and seeing how much they enjoy it.”
The Alberta Gymnastics Federation is currently working with the provincial government on a potential reopening date. At the moment, Alberta has targeted the reopening of gymnastics for Phase 3, but the club is encouraged to see other provinces, like B.C. and Ontario, preparing to bring gymnastics back.
Once they are allowed to reopen, Schwer said the gym will be able to meet all the province’s set health regulations and guidelines with careful planning and hard work. Gymnastics doesn't involve a lot of contact with other people, and that could work to their advantage.
“I hope that when we open, that people see the benefit outweighs the risks,” she said.
“A friend said to me, we have to respect the virus, but we don’t have to be afraid of it. We just have to make sure we do our due diligence.”