Parents looking for some unique activities for their children now have the option of signing their kids up for gymnastics lessons at Island Twisters. Island Twisters opened for business on Aug. 30 and is located in Tamuning behind Kmart in a 10 000 square-foot warehouse.

Derrick Heath and his wife Melinda Heath are the owners of the business. Derrick Heath told the Journal “It’s a full gymnastics academy. For the girls we have all four events. We have uneven bars balance beam the vault and the floor exercise. For the boys we have tumbling on the floor and the vault. We’re in the process of trying to get parallel bars high bars and rings.”” He said that Island Twisters should have that equipment by the end of the year.

The facility also includes a 40-foot tumble track; a 65-foot spring floor used to practice power tumbling; and two low balance beams raised five inches off of the ground.

About $50 000 was invested into getting the academy up and running.

Parents can sign up children as young as five for the beginner classes. Derrick Heath said “”We start at five years old "" boys and girls.”” The children are divided into groups of five to eight-year-olds; nine to 13-year-olds; 14 to 18-year-olds; and 19 and older for adults.

“”We try to structure it [classes] toward 10 kids per class. We try not to go over that because then that allows us to be more hands on with the kids.””

Derrick Heath said that enrollment has been good for the short amount of time the academy has been open. “”We have about 115 kids currently enrolled. For the first eight weeks we consider that a pretty good turnout so far.””

Classes are held six days a week from Monday through Saturday from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. In addition to gymnastics Derrick Heath said that jazz dance classes for children are also offered and on Oct. 29 and 30 Island Twisters began offering Tae Bo and salsa classes for adults and it began offering ballet classes for children and began adults at the end of October.

Island Twisters charges $120 for an eight-week session with one class a week; $201 for an eight-week session with two classes a week; and $265 for an eight-week session with three classes a week for children who are more serious about their training.

Melinda Heath said “”We’re just trying to do something on island that’s affordable for the local kids. So far we’ve got a good response. We just need more students and I know that will come once the word gets out.””
Derrick Heath said that Island Twisters is looking into holding an in-house gymnastics competition in 2007 sometime from March through May for the parents. The competition won’t be held until after the kids have gained more experience.

“”It would probably be intermediate and advanced kids only and we would have a small exhibition for the beginning kids so parents can see their progress. But we would require six to eight months training before we would have an actual competition so they can do their floor routines their bar routines and two or three different vaults “” Derrick Heath said.

Island Twisters also looked at possibly having kids attend and participate in off-island competitions in Australia Japan and Korea but not until their students have gained more experience and only for the more advanced levels.

Derrick Heath said it was his wife’s goal to open a gymnastics academy for the children of Guam. “”We did it for the kids. Melinda was very into gymnastics. She took gymnastics five days a week at the Arizona Academy of Gymnastics from the age of seven throughout high school “” he said.

Before opening Island Twisters Derrick and Melinda Heath were dancers at the Sandcastle Entertainment Center. Melinda Heath was also a gymnastics instructor at the now closed Stars Gymnastics.

Besides the Heaths there are three other employees at the academy but Derrick and Melinda Heath are looking to hire more instructors. There are no plans for a grand opening. MBJ