Gym helps students reach for dreams of every size
Ava Kupetis of Burr Ridge jumps along the trampoline Oct. 11 during a class at the Balance Institute of Gymnastics in Burr Ridge. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Balance Institute of Gymnastics
PROVIDING: instruction in recreational and competitive tumbling and gymnastics for children 18 months to 18 years
LOCATION: 16W110 83rd St., Burr Ridge
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Th., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m. to noon Sat.
CONTACT: (630) 323-6244, biggymnastics.com
Updated: October 23, 2012 11:58AM
BURR RIDGE —Bob Elliott of Clarendon Hills had two very good reasons for opening Balance Institute of Gymnastics.
Six years after opening the gym doors, those two reasons — daughters Jessica and Tiffany Elliott — are among the school’s many accomplished athletes.
“We have sent girls to nationals the last three years,” said Lauren Reiken, instructor and marketing director.
But not everyone comes to the Burr Ridge facility with such big dreams. Some come just for fun, for fitness, or to learn specific skills.
“We have a lot of girls who come in to learn tumbling for high school cheerleading,” Reiken said.
Elliott, who worked as a commodities trader before switching careers in 2006, said the skills taught at BIG go far beyond the balance beam or floor exercise.
“A sport like this teaches you to believe in yourself,” Elliott said.
“Sometimes you have to fail 1,000 times before you get it right.”
But the student who gets it right on attempt 1,001 learns that hard work pays off.
“We’re teaching confidence,” Reiken said.
Confidence, along with tumbling, balance beam, vault, uneven bars and more, is taught six days a week, with classes for students from 18 months to 18 years.
The gym is open Sundays for children’s birthday parties.
Reiken said BIG prides itself on employing only adult instructors. The competition team’s coaches include former Big 10 gymnasts and athletes who themselves performed on the national level.
Elliott said BIG might soon have college athletes among its alumni, as well. Fifteen college scouts visited the gym over the summer to watch BIG’s most talented students perform.
BIG’s most talented athletes also tend to be the best students, Elliott said. The time management, discipline and commitment needed to compete as a gymnast transfers to other parts of life, he said.
“It is a very large commitment” to be part of the competition team, Reiken said. Team members can spend as many as 23 hours a week at the gym.
A majority of the 800 students who come to BIG each week are there for reasons other than preparing for competition.
No matter their reason for being there, Elliott said students can expect to gain physical strength, agility and mental focus as they perfect their back handsprings and layouts.