FULTON, Ill. — Justin and Jessica Thoms purchased Great River Gymnastics in May 2016. At the time, the facility was fairly small. There was 900 square feet of space and only tumbling classes were offered.
Less than 18 months later, the facility has moved to a new location, added more classes and brought new coaches in to help with courses.
According to Justin Thoms, classes began to fill quickly after he and Jessica began offering the tumbling classes.
"With the hiring of a few amazing coaches to join the team, we quickly ran out of room at our previous location in downtown Fulton," Thoms said.
In late 2016, the Thoms began looking to other options in the area, and later approached the city of Fulton as prospective buyers for land within the industrial park. The sale was approved in December, and the process of building a new facility and moving operations out of the old Royal Theatre building began.
According to council minutes from Nov. 7, Thoms had 150 students at the time, and had been forced to turn away 50 more due to that lack of space. Another 30 prospective students were on a waiting list.
At the time, Fulton Mayor Howard Van Zuiden suggested the move out to the industrial park would also solve some of the congestion that sometimes happened in the downtown area when classes were let out.
The sale of the land to Great River Gymnastics at a cost of $32,865 was approved by a vote of 5-2. The 2.2-acre lot is located at 1020 22nd Ave.
Justin Thoms says ground was broken for the new facility on March 18. The building was completed on June 5. It features 7,500 square feet of space to accommodate a variety of courses. New equipment has been added for dance and gymnastics classes, as well as an obstacle course styled after the one seen in the TV series "American Ninja Warrior." Great River Gymnastics offers a ninja warrior class that Thoms says has proven to be very popular.
The expansion has also resulted in a partnership with three dance teachers from the Gateway area. Three new certified coaches have also been added to the gymnastics staff. The variety of classes available has increased, too. In addition to the ninja warrior course, Great River Gymnastics also offers tap, jazz, hip-hop, ballet, poms, yoga, tumbling, floor exercise, bar, beam and vault.
According to Thoms, nearly 300 students are currently taking classes at Great River Gymnastics.