Nestled away at the rear of the BJ’s Shopping center at 3601 Hempstead Turnpike, All-Stars Gymnastics is headed up by owner and head coach Danielle Sander, a Seaford resident and lifelong gymnast who competed extensively from early childhood throughout her high school years.
“After high school I started coaching and eventually managed a gym in Syosset for eight years. I ran their whole business, and after eight years I decided it was time to do it on my own,” she said. “It was very scary, but my family was behind me and I had a lot of help and support, and 13 years later, here we are.”
All-Stars Gymnastics boasts about 500 members each semester, and it’s plain to see why. In addition to a spacious (over 10,000 square feet), attractive and very safe facility for young ladies to tumble, bounce and flip in, Sander noted that she only employs highly-trained professionals to ensure the kids under her tutelage are taught to the best of their ability.
Students at the school can start as early at 15 months of age. All-Stars has several separate gyms of varying size based on age range, and as students grow older (or join later), more opportunities open up for more advanced instruction, and subsequently, more access to the bigger gyms.
“Typically, we teach up to 17 years of age,” Sander said. “We don’t really have a cut-off age, but usually by 17, they’re done or moving on to college. Of course, if someone older wanted to train here, we could do individual private lessons.”
Students from All-Stars regularly compete on the local, regional and national levels. Sander said that her school recently traveled to the Bahamas for a gymnastics meet, strongly competing against girls from all over the world.
Hailey, age 11 of North Massapequa, has been attending All-Stars Gymnastics for the past eight years, and said that it was her intense energy level as a little girl that prompted her parents to enroll her.
“I was crazy when I was little and I was jumping all over the place, so my mom put me in gymnastics…it helped a lot,” she said. “I really like it here because these guys are like my family, and the coaches are really nice, but they also get things done. Danielle is the greatest.”
Hailey is a tough cookie, and noted that last year she won a competition on the balance bars at a regional competition…with a broken hand.
Thirteen-year-old Julianna of Seaford is an 11-year member of the school. Her family was friends with Sander before she opened All-Stars, and that influenced her decision to join the moment Sander first opened her doors for business.
“I really like the whole environment here…it’s really friendly,” said Julianna. “They really push me hard to learn and improve, but you have to push yourself as well. This is a really great school…in fact, last week I placed first in New York State on the balance beam in my age group. I couldn’t have done that without Danielle.”
Sara, age 15, hails from Farmingdale and is another 11-year veteran of All-Stars Gymnastics. She said that the girls and coaches at the school definitely have become something of an extended family to her.
“My teammates and I are all really close, and we hang out outside of the gym a lot,” said Sara. “The coaching is very good here…we learn the basics and then work our way up, and thanks to the great coaching here, I won the all-around award at the New York State championships this year, as well as first in regionals this past weekend. Next, I go on to the nationals, where hopefully I’ll do well also.”
While running any business in a sluggish economy can be tough, Sander noted that local parents will often go the extra mile to keep their children doing the things they love. That in turn, has allowed Sander to continue doing the thing she herself loves doing—running her gymnastics school.
“With this community, I’ve noticed that with parents, their kids always come first. They’ll do without things like landscaping or the cleaning lady before they’ll tell their kid they can’t do something,” she said. “I’ve tried to help out my students as well, like not raising my rates in three years, offering payment plans and such. So far, things are going great…we’re very lucky that we get to do what we love every single day for a living.”
To find out more about All-Stars Gymnastics, visit their website at www.allstarsgymnastics.net.