Local gymnast hopes niche sport for grown-ups becomes trend

Ann-Margret Emery didn’t know how her first gymnastics routine was going to go.

After all, it had been about two decades since she last did a stunt.

“I couldn’t get it out of my system. I thought maybe I could still do it,” said Emery, 48 and deputy city attorney for Ormond Beach.

Coached by Hollie Terry at Riptide Gymnastics in Ormond Beach, Emery started off slow with some stretches and basic moves.

About five weeks later, she performed a nearly flawless flip combination called a round off back-spring back tuck.

“It’s been a few years,” she said jokingly after sticking the landing.

Now Emery hopes to start a trend in what is considered a niche sport for adults. In Volusia and Flagler counties, there are few classes for adults interested in gymnastics, though some businesses will take on older clients.

The city of Daytona Beach offers classes at the Peggy Schnebly Recreation Center, 1101 North Atlantic Ave., for gymnasts through 18 years of age while the Volusia-Flagler Family YMCA offers tumbling classes at its Port Orange and Four Townes facilities for youths.

Caroline Peters, who opened her gym in South Daytona last year, said anybody can learn gymnastics with the proper amount of coaching.

“It’s a very safe sport,” she said, adding she has taught parents of students. “I don’t think there’s any limits.”

Peters said people should always stretch before attempting any sort of routine as pulled muscles are a common injury seen in the sport if someone has not adequately stretched.

Emery, who was a state champion gymnast in floor and beam, said she gave up the sport after growing too tall and attending Florida State University, which doesn’t have a gymnastics program.

“I’ve been amazed at how quickly it’s come back,” she said. “I don’t ache at all.”

The workout has been so great, she’s been inviting others to try it on Saturday mornings at Riptide.

Emery’s yoga instructor Alexis Martin, 31, said gymnastics is a great way to touch on many different types of disciplines in a very short time.

“It’s all encompassing,” she said after holding some poses on the balance beam, adding she might recommend the sport to some students.

Riptide Gymnastics owner Hollie Terry said adults are welcome to stop by at 9 a.m. on Saturdays at the gym, 1230 N. U.S. 1, Unit 11, for a first-time free lesson with subsequent sessions costing $15 each.

“We’ll see where it goes,” she said.