Small Business Spotlight

Gym Skills' Flexible Model

By Melissa Kossler Dutton
Photo by Ryan M.L. Young
From the January 2014 issue of Columbus CEO

When Kenny Crump started teaching children’s gymnastics for a local recreation department, parents urged him to open his own gym.

Crump has a great way with children, says Marilyn Bury Rice, whose son takes lessons from the Columbus native.

“Kenny’s always a great role model,” says Bury Rice.

Crump, who began studying gymnastics at age 4, wasn’t in a position to purchase gymnastics equipment and open a facility. Instead, he started a mobile business out of his car. In 2005, he began teaching gymnastics at a local preschool using their mats and small equipment that he could transport to the school in his car. He focused on tumbling and basic balancing skills.

“I had a little car so I would buy the smallest pieces I could,” he says.

He added more and more schools – teaching a mix of gymnastics and fitness. Some facilities paid his fee. Others made the classes optional and required interested parents to pay for them. As the program grew, Crump hired other coaches to teach classes.

Families continued to praise his program and ask about more classes. In 2008, he teamed up with a friend who taught cheerleading and rented space in Gahanna. By sharing space and expenses with another coach, Crump was able to give Gym Skills a permanent home. He began offering classes for children aged 18 months to 18 years.

He focused on giving the gym a noncompetitive atmosphere where recreating and staying fit are the goals.

Crump also has created two gym mascots, KC and CC. The cartoon characters teach kids about the importance of exercise and playing fair. He sells KC and CC merchandise and uses the money to provide classes to schools that can’t afford his fee.

He recently moved the business into a 5,500-square-foot space in Gahanna. The colorful space is warm and inviting. It has plenty of equipment. There’s even a fruit smoothie bar. Crump spent about $50,000 renovating the space and purchasing new equipment.

He’s also preparing to expand the business. He has started a mobile gym in Cincinnati and sees the potential to take his business model to cities around the state and country. The mobile gym continues to run and will offer classes at the Wellington School’s summer program among other places.

Gym Skills “offers the kinds of programs kids enjoy,” said Peggy Berger, director of the Wellington School’s summer and after-school options program.

Bury Rice and her son, David, love hanging out in the family atmosphere of the new Gym Skills facility. The classes have had a positive impact on David and provided him with a sense of athleticism, the Gahanna mother says.

“I always go and watch. I just love what I see,” she says. “It has helped David with his self-confidence. He’s very self-confident.”

Crump offers a variety of classes ranging from tumbling to aerial arts. He teaches an all-boy class for youngsters who don’t want a co-ed gymnastics class. He even allows families to “Create-A-Class” by choosing the times, classmates and activities that best suit their kids.

He also hosts open gym times for younger children and parents’ night out events. On those evenings, kids can do gymnastics, make crafts and eat snacks while their parents enjoy a night out.

He says his job is too much fun to feel like work. “I’m living the dream,” he says with a smile.

Crump also loves that he created a place where children and families feel comfortable. “They come here and they don’t want to leave,” he says. “I think, ‘Wow. We created this place that they don’t want to leave.’”