By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– There is a natural synergy created when combining the dedication of two successful Olympic gymnasts, the expert guidance of one long-time gymnastics instructor and the ardent enthusiasm kids naturally have to run, roll and jump.
Co-owners Alexandre Kolyvanov and Dmitri Trouch found a fitting name, then, for North Liberty’s new gymnastics club.
Synergy Gymnastics has been open about three weeks now, located on the west side of the Interstate 380 interchange with Penn Street, at 390 Herky St., Unit 4. The building from the outside looks like a typical shop, but inside is a dynamic network of apparatuses and equipment designed to teach young people how to tumble, swing, vault, handspring and balance safely, gracefully and with confidence and strength.
Alex Kolyvanov was just seven years old when he began his gymnastic training in Leningrad, Russia. By age 13, Kolyvanov was the Junior National Champion of the Soviet Union. He would go on to win an unprecedented three Junior European All Around Championships between 1986 and 1889, and compete in national and international gymnastics championships until he went all the way to the Barcelona Olympic games in 1992 as a member of the gold medal Unified Team. Shortly after, Kolyvanov was invited to come to the United States to help coach young gymnasts here, first in Pennsylvania, then to Florida, and, ultimately, as an assistant gymnastics coach at the University of Iowa from 1993 to 2010. He currently lives in Iowa City with his wife and two children.
His business partner, Dmitri Trouch, shares a similar background. Indeed, the two have known each other since they were six or seven years old. Trouch also racked up numerous championship titles as a young gymnast, including the National Russian horizontal bar champion in 1994 and competing in the 1994 European and World Championships, winning the All-Around National Championship in Moscow in 1996, and finally helping the Russian team take the gold medal away from the Chinese in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Trouch was invited to help coach at the University of Iowa as well, after getting an endorsement from his long-time friend Kolyvanov. Trouch was part of the University of Iowa gymnastics coaching staff from 1998 to 2010. Also of Iowa City, Trouch and his wife Marina have two children as well.
Kolyvanov said he when he was offered the coaching position in the U.S., he had a very short time to consider the decision, but he did not hesitate.
“You have to take opportunities when they present themselves,” said Kolyvanov.
So when he began to think about operating his own gymnastics business, it likewise did not take him long to make it happen. He enlisted the help of his wife of 17 years, experienced Russian gymnast and instructor Oksana, and his childhood friend Trouch.
“We knew we wanted to bring a new, wonderful gym to North Liberty,” he said. It took just three months to set up and open the doors, though much of the high-quality equipment had to be shipped from overseas. With gymnastics gear specifically sized for very young children, beginners’ classes incorporate ways to develop coordination, counting skills, learning colors, numbers and shapes.
Students progress their way up to the full-size trampolines, bars and beams when they are ready. Much of the equipment at Synergy is identical to equipment used in the 2008 Olympics in Bejing.
Though the two owners are highly accomplished, Olympic-level athletes, their first priority is to introduce the fun of gymnastics to children.
“Our classes begin with tots, starting at about 18 months old,” said Kolyvanov. “It’s an excellent opportunity for kids and parents to get together and be directly involved in the fun. Our levels progress from there, to the highest level of gymnast you might want to be.”
Trouch said there are students who express interest in competition, and there are those who just want to do gymnastics for fun. All are welcome, he said.
“Equal attention to all is one of our major components,” said Trouch. “What we do applies equally to everyone.”
And the benefits of gymnastics reach equally beyond the gym, they both believe.
“Gymnastics is great to develop a child’s ability in other sports,” said Trouch. “It helps you gain strength, flexibility, balance and agility. There is so much to it, and beginning at a younger age is beneficial to those who want to do sports later.”
And, Kolyvanov added, doing gymnastics helps kids gain other advantages as well. Gymnastics teaches discipline, a strong work ethic and patience.
“Gymnastics is one of the most difficult sports, and it can be a long time commitment,” said Kolyvanov, “but it’s well worth it. I see my own daughter, and it’s easy to see the kids who get used to the schedule are more personally organized. They get up on time, they know how to balance homework and play time, and they take better care of their own items. They seem more self-reliant. Gymnastics is a life-long experience.”
Synergy Gymnastics will make it easy for parents to explore gymnastics to discover if it is the experience of a lifetime for their own children. People can sign up to attend a class at no cost, regardless of age or ability level, to see if children want to continue. There is no need to wait for a new session to begin.
“We do operate in sessions, but students can enroll any time during the session. We will prorate the cost,” said Trouch.
And for kids who just want to come for a day in the gym, Synergy offers birthday party packages, open gym times and tumbling-only classes. More information can be found on their website at www.synergygymnastics.com .
So whether students are future Olympians– for which the two seasoned gymnasts are equipped and masterfully trained– or simply open to fun, Synergy Gymnastics offers the right combination of skill and recreation.
“The most important thing we want to see here is many happy kids who are having the time of their lives,” said Kolyvanov. “If they leave here a confident, hard worker in the future, that would be our dream.”
“It would feel like a great achievement,” added Trouch.