Open for Business: Local gymnasts train with Olympics serving as inspiration

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – It’s all eyes on gold at Peoria Elite Gymnastics Academy, especially during the Olympics.

“I love the Olympics,” said Jenna Parks, the head team coach. “It’s one time out of every four years that gymnastics really comes to the spotlight and everybody’s talking about gymnastics. A lot of people watch gymnastics.”

As someone who did gymnastics up through high school, Parks knows all too well the amount of dedication that goes into competing.  

She said, “I’ve always grown up loving gymnastics, ever since I was two. And just getting that opportunity to share it with the kids and to see them reach their own goals and accomplishments, it’s just awesome to me.”

The gym’s managing partner, Chris Mackesy and his wife, Alyson train upwards of 40 competitive gymnasts.

“Seeing the effort it takes them to perform some of these things that may look simplistic to the average viewer and then compare that to what Olympians do and knowing the hard work, the years, the effort, the dedication that goes into it, is just incredible,” said Mackesy.

“Being in it on the intimate level and seeing kids training and how much effort they put into it, it’s just mind-blowing.”

Chris mackesy

The athletes spend anywhere from nine to 16 hours a week at Peoria Elite Gymnastics Academy, starting off as young as four-years-old. 

Mackesy said, “Gymnastics is not a seasonal sport. It’s a 12-month sport. They train. Our competitive gymnast get four weeks off a year.”

“It’s incredible. The most rewarding part of the job is to see a student master a new skill, overcome a new fear. It’s just incredible.” 

chris mackesy

And while the Olympics may not be in the cards for all of these athletes, sometimes it’s just a matter of being fearless and giving it your all. 

Parks said, “Just seeing them make their accomplishments and seeing them happy and smiling and saying all the hard work paid off it just makes everything worth it.”

Peoria Elite Gymnastics Academy is located at 2240 W. Altorfer Dr. in Peoria.

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