As told to Whitney L. Allen of the Hendricks County Flyer, here is the story about how the Flip Zone began.
The Flip Zone opened its doors Jan. 1 and entered the sparsely populated world of competitive gyms on the west side of Indianapolis.
It all started in August of 2005.
Stephanie Strout, who had retired from her career as a gymnastics coach and instructor to have more family time, started surfing the Plainfield Community School Corporation’s website to find information on signing her son, Spencer, up for kindergarten.
“I saw on the website that Plainfield (High School) was looking for a gymnastics coach, and I thought it would be a good opportunity,” Strout said. “Once I got the job, the athletic director told me I could have camps and clinics at the high school for younger kids in the town.”
Strout said she wanted to make the clinics “a reasonable price so all of the kids could try gymnastics.”
She said 150 children showed up for the first clinic.
“The program grew too big for the high school, and I was asked by parents to start a gym,” Strout said. “I thought it would cost millions of dollars to start a gym, but I’m here today to tell you that you can do it. Having a gym and a location has helped get the word out. We have a lot of people coming that aren’t from Plainfield.”
Emily Long, a 4-year-old in the beginning gymnastics class, comes from Avon each Tuesday for practice.
“I like it,” she said. “Trampoline is my favorite. When I need help, the lady helps me.”
Long’s father, Rob Long, said the gym is worth the short drive.
“This place is comfortable and really friendly,” he said. “(The parents) sit in here and watch and share stories. You can definitely tell an improvement in her skills, flexibility, and enthusiasm from the beginning to now.”
Although Strout said her program does encourage technique, balance, flexibility and strength, she also wants the students to learn much more than just gymnastics.
“It’s about values,” she said. “We value education, health, family and fitness. We want kids to come here and have fun. In our classes they will learn things they need in life, like being social and how to take turns.”
Nikki Johnson said her 4-year-old daughter, Jade, was very shy before starting gymnastic classes.
“It’s a good way for her to release her energy and come out of her shell,” she said. “She is really shy and this is helping her build more self esteem.”
The Johnsons come from Indianapolis once a week for gymnastics.
The gym offers classes each day of the week for all ages, and a complete class schedule can be found online at www.theflipzone.com.
Right now the gym is just off of Clarks Creek Road, but Strout said they may soon be moving.
“We are hoping to sign the lease this week or next week on the new location,” she said. “It will still be in Plainfield. We just had some zoning issues with this building, and we have already grown so much. Luckily, our lease is up in May.
“It doesn’t matter where our building is, we will still be the same gym with the same values.”