FOREST CITY | Children interested in learning gymnastics now have a place to do so in Forest City.

That’s with much credit to Sandra DeWaard, the owner of Funky Monkey Tumbling & Gymnastics, and her husband, Gary.

“We have three younger girls and they love gymnastics, but there’s just no local place to go unless you want to drive hours, so we turned this into one,” she said.

This spring, the DeWaards purchased the former Krys Mart building at 1305 U.S. Highway 69 S. in Forest City, and with the help of family and friends, they began remodeling the building to accommodate competition-level tumbling and gymnastics equipment, like a spring floor.

“We had a hard time finding a building like this that had enough space, especially with height, to accommodate gymnastics,” said Gary DeWaard of the 4,800-square-foot building with an 18-foot ceiling.

On Oct. 2, Funky Monkey Tumbling & Gymnastics held its first class.

Classes, which are led by local instructors who will soon be members of USA Gymnastics, are held for children between 3 and 16 years old from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. There are three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

“You can start at any level, and then the instructors will move you if needed,” Sandra DeWaard said, noting a child’s placement is dependent on his or her ability to complete the movements in each level, like a cartwheel, a handstand, a front handspring, a round-off rebound and others.

The classes, which focus primarily on tumbling right now, are the foundation for other gymnastics events, like the uneven bars, vault and balance beam, she said.

As of Monday, Oct. 30, there were 30 girls — although boys are welcome — signed up for the classes. The average class size is eight children, she said.

“I was hoping for 20 at least, and we got 30,” Sandra DeWaard said. “Every week there are a couple new ones.”

And the DeWaards hope to add more.

Recently, fliers were distributed to students within the Forest City schools encouraging them to visit Funky Monkey for a class, which is free the first time.

“We want to continue to add more days and kids and build it more to gymnastics,” Gary DeWaard said, adding the couple is exploring an open gym option on Saturdays.

The building — when the remodel is complete — will feature a 500-square-foot viewing area for parents to watch their children during class, and in the coming weeks, the DeWaards hope to purchase a four-circuit bar system, which contains uneven bars, parallel bars, high bar and rings.

The space will be available for clubs, organizations and businesses to rent for workouts, fitness classes and other events in the future, Gary DeWaard said.

Sandra and Gary DeWaard, who own their own marketing company that organizes live events, like Tree Town Music Festival, have three daughters between 10 and 7 years old and a 4-year-old son — all of who’ve attended Funky Monkey Tumbling & Gymnastics.

“It’s just fun to see all the kids come out and have fun,” Sandra DeWaard said. “They really enjoy it.”

For those interested in trying Funky Monkey Tumbling & Gymnastics, message the business’s Facebook page

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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