CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) – The Final Five’s Rio journey to gold is inspiring children in Central Texas to take to uneven bars and balance beam. It’s also great for business.
Gymnastics programs from the YMCA to private ones are filling up quickly with kids ready to showcase their tumbles and backflips.
At Acrotex Gymnastics in Cedar Park, they have signed up more than 250 kids in the past two weeks. The owner says 70 kids enrolled just this week.
“To train at a high level like the girls we see on TV, they have to really love the sport,” said Lauren Valentour with Acrotex Gymnastics. “Gymnastics is the best foundation for any sport that they ever do.”
Elizabeth Janson from Lago Vista just signed up her 4-year-old daughter Brookley.
“Both my girls have set up broomsticks between two bar stools and they are doing bar routines in the middle of the living room,” said Janson. The mother of two wanted her girls to start as early as possible. Her family has been glued to the Olympics and they’re not alone.
Just Tuesday night, 24.1 million viewers watched Simone Biles and Aly Raisman win gold and silver in the floor exercise. The Rio Games has had the second largest viewing audience on record behind the London Olympics.
At the same gym, 15-year-old Colt Walker is a name to follow.
“I just love it. The thrill of gymnastics. I love it,” said Walker from Cedar Park. “It really seems like it fills something in my heart.”
Walker is on the Olympic path. He trains about 20 to 25 hours a week and was recently among 10 gymnasts nationwide who made it to the Junior Olympics National Team. His dream is to be on the grand stage in eight years.
“It will be everything I’ve ever dreamed,” said Walker.
The spike in enrollment also means some gyms are adding more classes. Coaches tell KXAN that enrollment wraps up in September for kids gymnastics.