US Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Moceanu brings her long-standing vision of a gymnastics and yoga center that emphasizes the safe and positive development of young athletes to Medina.
Moceanu, a current resident of Hinckley who was part of the US women’s gymnastics team that won gold at the Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996, said her dreams of such a center came true over early this year when she and her husband, also a former gymnast. , went in search of land to buy as an investment and as a possible future site for a gymnasium. When they saw a 12,000 square foot facility for sale at 734 North Progress Drive, about a mile northwest of the historic downtown Medina plaza, they knew “the stars had aligned”, she declared.
âFinding a facility with a pre-fabricated industrial warehouse was exactly what I needed to cut about a year of construction (to open a gym),â she said, adding that the site is expected to open in May. .
The property, which had been on the market for over a year, was the perfect size to become the Dominique Moceanu Gymnastics Center. Medina County records show the purchase price was $ 422,400.
Moceanu has given private lessons at local gyms in recent years and started offering summer day camps last year, but her offerings were limited by the planning needs of the school she was renting space to. .
In addition to the camps, the facility will allow it to offer yoga and educational gymnastics classes for youth and adults, birthday parties, special clinics and more.
âI’m very excited to bring all of these worlds together under one roof, which hasn’t really been done that way before,â she said.
Youth sports are big business: WinterGreen Research estimated last August that the industry represents a market of $ 15.3 billion, according to a recent article by Crain.
One thing that differs from Moceanu’s background is that his gym will not have a competitive team. Moceanu said such a team would take a lot of resources away from other areas of the gym’s business and from his family.
âThis business model helps us cast a wider net, by bringing gymnastics and yoga to the masses,â she said.
The renovations planned on the site include the creation of foam pits and buried trampolines. The works also include a rock wall, a yoga studio, an internet cafe, offices, storage space, bathrooms and a pro shop.
She declined to reveal the cost of the renovations, which will take about two months.
âThey are definitely a pretty penny, but it’s worth the investment to make sure we’re doing it right,â she said.
With the recent conviction of US National Gymnastics Team physician Larry Nassar of sexual abuse, the sport has been in the news lately in terms of athlete well-being. Moceanu has long been a strong advocate for improved protections, and her establishment will reflect that, she said.
In her gym, safety will be a top priority, she said. All coaches will need to undergo training on how to help athletes have positive and healthy experiences, and the facility will also include personal safety measures, such as locked entrances. Members will have a key fob that gives them access, but visitors will need to be admitted by a member of staff. Security cameras will also be installed.
âWe are in the children’s industry, and we need to make sure that our children are as cared as possible when they are with us,â Moceanu said. “Adding that extra layer of security to the front door is something a lot of gym facilities don’t, and I want to set that industry standard.”
Shellie Pfohl, CEO of the US Center for SafeSport, said Moceanu’s focus on safety mirrors that seen in a growing number of youth sports organizations today, as the well-being of athletes become an integral part of their culture. For example, it is considered good practice to have two adults present with minors at all times and to organize lessons in âobservable and interruptibleâ spaces.
Gymnastics is probably more aware of these concepts than other sports right now due to the Nassar incidents, but all teams and youth clubs should follow them, she said.
And these ideas come from above, she added.
âThe fact that all employees and volunteers know that the owner of the organization takes this very seriously is really important in creating this culture of ‘safety first’,â said Pfohl.
The center will open with around 10 gymnastics instructors and seven to 10 other yoga instructors, plus additional staff for summer camps, pro shop, and birthday parties. Moceanu expects these numbers to increase as registrations increase. Every instructor must go through a background check, and gymnastics staff will have USA Gymnastics safety certification and SafeSport training in order to train on the court, she said. The gym will also be one of the first private companies to receive training on foreclosure from the Ohio company Faster Saves Lives, which works primarily with school districts.
Moceanu herself will be one of the instructors and teach gymnastics and yoga classes, in addition to running the center. Her husband, Michael Canales, a foot and ankle surgeon who competed with the Ohio State University gymnastics team in the 1990s, will also teach and mentor the coaches.
âI kind of tied it in,â Moceanu said with a laugh.