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Pint-sized gymnasts tumble into new class

17th Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 02:34PM September 6th, 2012
Pint-sized gymnasts tumble into new class

Sgt. Memory E. Payne

Denise Ruffner, a coach of 20 years at JBLM, helps Hope Daniels, 3, daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Richard Daniels, 19th Replacement in Korea, and Trudy Daniels, during the Flipz 4 Kidz gymnastics class at Hillside SKIES Unlimited.

Flipz 4 Kidz is an introductory gymnastics class that enhances children’s strength and gross motor skills. Students learn to walk a balance beam, flip over a bar, and tumble on floor mats — skills Denise Ruffner, gymnastics coach for Flipz 4 Kidz in JBLM SKIES Unlimited, said improve a child’s agility in any sport.

“Every four years the Olympics brings in a new bunch of children with dreams of being like the Olympic gymnasts,” Ruffner said.

Many military families have busy work schedules that interfere with enrolling their children in traditional gymnastics classes. To help accommodate the military community, Ruffner took a regular school bus and turned it into a mobile gymnastics “tumble bus.” Ruffner drives the bus to on-post day care centers, signs out children enrolled in Flipz 4 Kidz and teaches the class on the bus.

The tumble bus allows Ruffner to teach children the same techniques as she would during a traditional class at the Hillside Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills, also known as SKIES Unlimited. Regardless of where the children participate, Ruffner said students in Flipz 4 Kidz enjoy learning new tricks they can show their parents.

“The last class of the month, I allow the students to have a kids coach day,” Ruffner said. “This allows me to see what skills they have learned during class and get a feel for what skills they enjoy the most.”

Ruffner said this gives more experienced students the opportunity to help students new to Flipz 4 Kidz.

“Students who decide to learn gymnastics on a competitive level can get referrals to off-post gyms,” Ruffner said.