Mission Statement

 Our Mission:

"To develop athletes by delivering QUALITY: programs, coaches, and training facilities so all athletes achieve their personal best."

Our History - Est. 1982

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Gymmies History began in May of 1982 when a local schoolteacher,  Elvira Lester started the Caledonia Gym Club. Programs were offered at  Centennial school and 50 children participated in the first year. For  the next four seasons the club doubled their membership, operating at  both Centennial and St. Patrick's schools. Several grants were  successfully applied for and received to build the equipment needed to  run programs.

     By 1986, the club welcomed a  new head coach, new to the community and ready to expand both the clubs  size and specialization. "I could see a lot of potential and couldn't  wait to start expanding" said Lisa Martin, current Club Director, and so  the process began. Within two years, (in 1988) the membership had  doubled again. But with members still on waiting lists and little  opportunity for additional school time, it was time to start thinking  about a permanent facility. 1990 was an important year. The club would  restructure, become renamed to the Grand River Gymmies and would  officially incorporate as a non-profit organization. A facility  committee was struck to investigate new possibilities for renting space  suitable for a gymnastics facility. Soon thereafter, the club took the  big leap and rented a portion of the space at 656 Highway Six (it's  currently the home of Applegate and James Furniture).

      Programs were expanded to include summer programs, adult fitness, and  competitive programs. The Gymmies administration was shocked to find  there still wasn't sufficient space and was back into waiting lists for  recreation programs. So in 1991 when the front half of the store became  vacant the club quickly moved on renting it too. Now with 5600 square  feet, things seemed to be all set. A new bingo license was helping  dramatically with funding the rental payment and the club moved into the  regional level of competitive gymnastics. High school students from  McKinnon Park were using the club to train and compete, qualifying for  OFSAA competition. Between the expanding daytime classes, evenings,  weekends and summer programs, the club was operating six days a week,  8-10 hours per day, and 50 weeks a year.

      Expanding new programs and expertise was the goal in 1993, with the  addition of the Gymmies first satellite outreach program into  Hagersvilles St Marys School. The program included club equipment,  coaches and program instruction offered directly in their community  eliminating commuting. Today, Hagersville remains one of seven outreach  programs offered in Caistor Centre, Beverly, Jarvis, Ohsweken,  Smithville, Carlisle and our newest sight in the Greensville, (Dundas  area). Since 1993, over two thousand children have participated in  Gymmies outreach programs, exposing many more youth to this wonderful  sport.

     However, it wasn't long before the  Executive Committee of the mid nineties realized the club was becoming  more diverse and administering to both the developing competitive  program and bulging recreation programs was becoming a difficult  challenge. The result was to split the club into 2 separate and distinct  entities and thus the non-profit and fully incorporated Caledonia  Gymmies emerges. And good thing, as membership was now 599 participants.  

     Just about the same time, the Federal  Government released the new Infrastructure Fund. It was designed to  download new money to each municipality to use for large community  projects. With the assistance of then councilor Walt Anders and Gymmies  administration would submit a proposal for consideration for  infrastructure funding for a new gymnastics complex. Unfortunately many  other worthy projects requiring funding preceded our project but it set  the wheels in motion for an amazing partnership yet to be formulated  between the Grand River Gymmies and the Town of Haldimand.

      By the time the final partnership was complete, two years had passed.  Hundreds of hours of investigations, master plans, proposals, meetings  and negotiations would transpire but eventually a deal was struck. The  Gymmies would receive a parcel of vacant land (located in McKinnon Park)  in Caledonia, property tax exemption, and qualify for $80,000 from lot  levy reserves (appreciation for this cannot be down played). Gymmies  would raise an additional $80,000 from diligent fund raising campaigns  and in the end only require a mortgage of $325,000 cosigned by the Town  to construct their current 10,000 square foot facility. In return, the  Town receives a state of the art recreation complex housing over 1,000  members annually free from any ongoing tax payers operational funding.

      During this same time period, the youth of this community were thriving  at Gymmies with new and more advanced recreation and competitive  programs, governed by some of the best coaches in the province. Without  question, the success the Gymmies has experienced could not have been  accomplished without the amazing efforts of the following coaching  consultants (to name a few): Jane Scott (former Preschool Director),  Maureen Marshall (Recreation Director), Cathie Martin (who coordinates  it all), Teresa Mikola (Trampoline & Tumbling Director), Louise  Bottenfield (now retired Outreach Director), Christine Goulding &  Katie Mancini (PreCompetitive Instructors), Jenn Kragten (Competitive  Recreation), and the newest additions Mike Toke and Sabrina West  (Competitive Gymnastics Directors). There is no doubt the coaches bring  the single biggest component to the athletes success said Club Director  Lisa Martin. Even with the best facility and administration, the coaches  will make the difference for athletes at all levels and Gymmies has a  great team!

     So with the start of the next  twenty five years in 2008, who knows what will be possible for the Grand  River Gymmies and Caledonia Gymmies. An Olympian? Program &  facility expansion? Who knows!! One thing they do know is that even in a  small town, determination and vision of many volunteers, coaches and  Executive members can go a long way. Stay tuned for more unexpected and  expected successes of the Gymmies associations and thank-you to everyone  in our community for making great things possible.

Lisa Martin

Gymmies Club Director