RUTLAND, Vt. (WFFF) — A gymnastics center in Rutland closes its doors after 25 years. But, it isn’t stopping the owner from serving her community.
Candance Munson owns Head over Heels. She sent her own kids to the center before becoming a head coach and owner. Her facility teaches children of all skill-levels and abilities gymnastics, but she says it goes beyond that.
“In my mind, it’s more than just gymnastics. It’s a tool that we use to build strength, build confidence,” said Munson. “We have field trips, birthday parties, special events. We also have an outside program that goes into school systems and brings the program to the children there.”
In March, her facility shut down due to the pandemic and remained closed for seven months. By January, students were back inside taking lessons. “Every parent that was coming into the facility was more than supportive and helping us to be open,” said Munson.
She assures the sudden closure is not related to the pandemic. The site was no longer conducive for lessons due to severe water damage. She and the landlords agreed it was best to find a new place. “The repairs went a little beyond what I could do and are a little larger than can be fixed in a short period of time,” said Munson.
Members are sad to see a valued place in the community shut down. Christina Dubois from Proctor Vermont took her 4-year-old daughter to the center for two years. She says she noticed her daughter become more confident and independent after one week.
“I always had to be with her. She wasn’t really interacting. It was always mom, mom, mom,” said Dubois. “The first week, she wanted me on the floor with her. After that she was good. She was confident. She was comfortable with the staff.”
Munson doesn’t want to stop working with children. Despite closing, she plans to open a non-profit called Gaia’s Treehouse.
“Whether it’s an indoor playground—which is my ultimate dream—gymnastics, fitness, massage, an indoor walking path, art classes. There’s a number of activities that can take place in this one location for an entire family,” said Munson.
Munson is searching for a space that is anywhere between 15,000 to 25,000 square feet. She plans to keep the center in Rutland to continue serving her members. “They’re becoming strong leaders and we have the ability to guide them. Social skills, emotional skills, and it’s just wonderful. The program goes far beyond gymnastics.”