Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Altius Staff Member Profile: Annette Proudian

Coach Annette Proudian has been involved in gymnastics most of her life. She started taking classes when she was 6 years old. “My mom wanted me to take dance, but I had other plans,” Annette relates. That early love of the sport and years of training and competing set her up well for a career at Altius Gymnastics. She has worked here for almost 18 years. Annette coaches all levels of progressive gymnastics and is also a key member of the office staff. Annette enjoys coaching beam the best and her favorite gymnast of all time is Olga Korbut.

When she has a little downtime, Annette might be found enjoying a cozy dinner at home and watching her favorite movie, Sleepless in Seattle. She especially likes Chinese or Italian food or meals made with chicken. Annette says her pet peeve is when people mess with things that don’t belong to them. She gets inspiration from Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”

Annette loves working with children and has a big family of her own. She is the proud mother of five kids, including Altius Coaches Maygan and Morgan. She is also the youngest of 6 children. Adds Annette, “When I was young, my parents took us camping for a couple weeks during the summer. We went all over the U.S., and even ventured into Canada. Because of this, I have been in 42 states (and some parts of Canada). Imagine traveling all over the country with a station wagon full of kids!”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Altius Staff Member Profile: Missy Juleen

Missy Juleen is a coach for the Altius Training Squad and has also been involved in the Level 5 and 6 Team program. She’s been in gymnastics in some form for almost 22 years. She says she started taking classes at Altius when she was 7. “I was a baton-twirler and my instructor encouraged me to sign up for gymnastics,” Missy shares. She’s coached at Altius for almost 15 years. “When I was a gymnast, beam my was my favorite event to work on, but now I love coaching my students on the bars,” she says.

When Missy was a gymnast, she admired Ukrainian gymnast Lilia Podkopayeva. “I had posters of her everywhere in my room,” Missy reveals. “But I would say Mary Lou Retton is the best gymnast of all time.”

Missy is a busy first-time mom. Her daughter, Aria, will be 1 in a few months. “I can’t wait to put her in a leotard!” Missy says. She adds that when she has some free time, she enjoys reading Nicholas Sparks books and also looking up recipes for new things she can cook for Aria. Another activity Missy likes is trying to grow different crops in her garden. “I absolutely love pickles,” Missy admits, “especially ones made from home-grown cucumbers.”

Missy is fond of getting away on vacation in warm locations, but even when she’s at the gym, she’s never far from family. Her mom, Nancy Swiderski works in the office at Altius and Missy’s sister, Shelly Schwab, coaches Girls Level 3 Team here, as well. With all that Missy has going on, it’s a good thing her motto in life is, “Never give up!”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gymnastics 101 - By Coach Jill

What's the Point?
A relatively small number of children in gymnastics actually compete, and only a tiny percentage of those progress to the top levels of the sport. So...what's the point of being in recreational gymnastics classes? I think most kids would simply respond that it's FUN. I hope even Olympians would respond that they do gymnastics because it's fun to defy gravity and push the limits of the human body. From a professional point of view, I feel very strongly that not only is gymnastics fun, but it teaches kids the joy of movement and how to use their bodies--benefits that can last a lifetime.

For example, the gymnast learning to ski for the first time is more comfortable than her peers because of time on the balance beam. Rock climbing instructors have reported that they can always pick out the gymnasts because of their great upper-body strength. Kindergym students learning to swim can be more willing to jump into the pool because of their experience jumping into the foam pit. Gymnasts in many cases are able to pick up golf easier than others because they have learned body awareness and mental focus from their gymnastics training. Another benefit that comes from this sport is knowing how to fall safely, which comes in handy in team sports when you’re sliding into home base or being tackled on the football field.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Altius Staff Member Profile: Jill Schrimpf

Coach Jill Schrimpf started gymnastics at age 2-1/2 when Altius Owner Mike Robb was coaching out of Franklin High School and she’s been involved in the sport ever since. Jill started coaching at Altius in 1995 when she was in high school. While attending UW-Madison where she majored in History and Marketing, Jill worked at a local gym. She came back to Altius after graduating from college and a brief stint working for Wells Fargo.

“My favorite events as a gymnast were vault and beam, but by the end of my career I could pick out skills on each event that I really enjoyed practicing and performing,” Jill says. “I currently coach mostly beam and floor. I can't choose a top event--it would be like picking your favorite child. I like them equally for different reasons!”

Over the years, Jill has had an opportunity to see some exciting gymnastics competitions and see some star national gymnasts achieve glory. “I went to the 1991 World Championships in Indianapolis with my family and a friend when I was 10 years old,” Jill reports. “I will always remember seeing Kim Zemeskal win the all-around gold medal with her signature 3 whip back to double back tumbling pass.” This Altius Director also attended the 1994 National Championships in Nashville where Dominique Dawes swept the gold medals on every event and the all-around.

Her most memorable gymnastics competition moment was the 1996 Atlanta Olympics gymnastics team final. Her seats were in the last row of the Georgia Dome. “Kerri Strug's final gold medal winning vault was amazing,” Jill recalls. “The energy in that building was indescribable!”

At home, Coach Jill hangs out with her cat, named Jack Nicholson. She considers herself an avid, but slow, runner, as well as an avid, but inconsistent, golfer. “I also like to water ski, wakeboard, and downhill ski when I get the chance,” she adds. “I have also been skydiving and surfing.” Jill enjoys eating raspberries, Kopp's turtle sundaes and Ricardo's cheeseburger pizza. Her pet peeve is narrowmindedness.

Says Jill, “After hearing that I was a gymnast, many people are surprised to discover that I cannot touch my toes. That’s my 2012 New Year’s Resolution.” At last check, she was still working on that goal...just 3 months to go!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gymnastics 101 - By Coach Jill

The Relationship Between Gymnastics and Academics

Many activities in gymnastics classes prepare children for early success in the classroom. Listed below are just a few of the relationships between gym activities and behaviors in school.

Activities requiring deep pressure to the joints as in mat and bar work provide joint sensation adequate for correct pencil grip, and the pencil tension needed to form letters properly.

Listening to a coach and processing multi-step directions for gymnastics skills including sequences and complex motor patterns gives children practice in listening to a teachers instructions, following multi-step directions in school assignments and understanding complex math patterns.

Gymnastics students that enjoy warm-up routines with music and keep a steady beat/rhythm with ease are better at understanding the rhythmic nature of reading and speech, leading to strong fluency skills.

Students that learn directional terms at the gym including over, under, next to, and between are better at distinguishing between the letters b/d/p/q and writing with no reversals.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Altius Staff Member Profile: Natalie Lipka

Natalie Lipka is a girls coach at Altius has been involved in gymnastics for 22 years--since she was four years old. She coached at Altius from 2003 to 2009 and then took a break to begin her teaching career. She now teaches 6th grade. “This past winter I realized how much I missed coaching gymnastics so in January 2012, I came back to Altius,” says Natalie. Her favorite part of the sport is working on skills for floor routine and the Olympic gymnast she most admires is Kerri Strug. Natalie is married and has a black lab named Jett. She enjoys watching the movie The Wizard of Oz and any Mexican or Italian foods. Her pet peeve is loud noises. Coach Natalie is strong in lots of ways, especially when it comes to bouncing back from injury. She has dislocated both her right elbow and her left ankle, had surgery on her right hip and also tore a major ligament in her knee by flipping her ATV!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Members of the U.S. Men's and Women's Olympic Teams

Get to know these dynamic athletes and watch them compete for the US at the London Olympics.
U.S. Men's Gymnastics Team
Jonathan Horton is a two-time National All-Around Champion and won a silver medal for high bar at the 2008 Olympics. At that time, he was part of the bronze medal Olympic team. As a member of the US Men’s Olympic Gymnastics Team heading to London, he hopes to grab the team gold! At 26 years old, he’s the oldest on the team and brings a real veteran’s perspective to the group. Jonathan has a blast when he’s competing and it’s winning spirit and determination that kept his career from ended abruptly in Oct. of 2011 when he broke two bones and tore a ligament in his foot coming off the vault. He powered back and hopes to do better than ever in London. Go Jonathan! For more on Jonathan, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=jonathan-horton/index.html

When US Men’s Olympic Gymnastics Team member Jake Dalton was younger he had to choose between his two loves: gymnastics and baseball. Lucky for us and the rest of the US, he chose gymnastics! Born in Reno, NV, Jake lives in Norman, OK, and attends the University of Oklahoma and is on the men’s gymnastics team there. This dedicated athlete practices two hours a day six days a week plus works in extra strength training sessions as well. When he wants to relax, he kicks back and watches a good movie. For more about Jake, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=jake-dalton/index.html

Danell Leyva was born in Cuba but came to the United States when he was a year old. Now he calls Miami, FL, his home. Danell is the 2011 US National All-Around Gold Medalist and the 2011 World Champion on parallel bars. He considers making the 2012 US Olympic Team a dream come true. When he’s not practicing, he can be found hanging out with his pet tarantula! For more on Danell, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=danell-leyva/index.html

Sam Mikulak started in gymnastics when he was 2 (both his parents were gymnasts) and as a 19-year-old he was the 2012 US Parallel Bars Silver Medalist and the All-Around Bronze Medalist. He’s from Corona Del Mar, CA, but is attending the University of Michigan. Pommel Horse is the apparatus he likes best. Sam enjoys working on the computer in his spare time and crab legs are his favorite food. For more on Sam, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=sam-mikulak/index.html

John Orozco is the 2012 Visa National Champion. He’s 19 years old and from Bronx, NY, but currently lives and trains in Colorado Springs, CO. When John was 7 he was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. His dad noticed how strong he was and that he could do flips and splits, so he got him into gymnastics. He loves sailing through the air on the high bar. This Olympian enjoys reading the Harry Potter series and was famous even before his recent athletic success: he was an extra in three episodes of the TV show
Law & Order! For more on John, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=john-orozco/index.html

U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team
Gabby Douglas, member of the US Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team, is 16 years old and from Virginia Beach, VA. She won the all-around title at the Olympic trials in San Jose, CA, which gave her the lone automatic spot on the Olympic team. Her dad, Timothy Douglas, is in the US Air Force serving in Afghanistan. Gabby was nicknamed "The Flying Squirrel" by Martha Karolyi for the incredible height on her release moves on the bars. For more about Gabby, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=gabrielle-douglas/index.html

Which US Women’s Olympic Team member can stick the Yurchenko two-and-a-half vault in competition? It’s McKayla Maroney! This 16-year-old from Laguna Niguel, CA, gained international acclaim for nailing that very difficult vault. She’s the 2011 Vault World Champion. McKayla was 7th All-Around at the Olympic trials but her exceptional high-degree-of-difficulty vaults convinced the committee to give her a spot on the Olympic team. At home, she likes to relax and hang out with the family’s chocolate lab, Tia Maria. For more on McKayla, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=mckayla-maroney/index.html

Catch Wieber Fever! Jordyn Wieber (who turns 17 today! Happy B-Day, Jordyn) is the 2011 All-Around World Champion and a member of the US Olympic Gymnastics Team competing in London. Nicknamed “Jo”, Jordyn is from DeWitt, MI and has been part of the USA National Team since ’06. She is known for her laser focus. Her coaches say she rarely gets distracted when she’s practicing. She’s a natural athlete and was born to perform. Jordyn hopes to one day meet her favorite singer, Justin Bieber! London Olympics are just 15 days away. For more on Jordyn, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=jordyn-wieber/index.html

Alexandra Raisman from Needham, MA, finished third at the Olympic trials with the highest scores on beam and floor. That performance won her a spot on the US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team. Known as “Aly” to those close to her, she is the oldest of the four kids in her family and loves to compete. She also enjoys shopping and hanging with friends. We can’t wait to see this talented 18-year-old her and her teammates go for the gold in London. For more on Alexandra, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=aly-raisman/index.html

Kyla Ross, at 15 years old, is the youngest member of the US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team competing in London. She earned her nickname “Mighty Mouse” by always being strong and full of energy...even as a baby. Her parents say she was climbing on things and holding on before she could even walk. She was plenty mighty when she came in 5th in the all-around at the Olympic trials and placed first on bars. She was born in Honolulu Hawaii but resides in Aliso Viejo, CA. For more about Kyla, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=kyla-ross/index.html

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Altius Staff Member Profile: Bill Wall

Coach Bill is an upper-level team coach at Altius and has worked here for 8 years. Back when man first landed on the moon, Bill became involved in formal gymnastics. “If you were to count my youthful years of climbing from tree to tree in the backyard and flipping into the haystacks in the hay mow you would have to go all the way back to when our president was named Kennedy,” he says. Growing up with 10 brothers and sisters, Bill reports that his favorite food was “whatever was in front of me.” When it comes to the top gymnasts of all time, he rates Vladimir Artemov most artistic and Mitch Gaylord most exciting and innovative.

When he has some free time, Coach Bill favors exciting outdoor activities. “Although I don't get out as much as I used to I still love sailing, windsurfing, whitewater rafting and skiing (downhill and x-country),” he says. “Also, I am now very interested in permaculture and sustainable living which conflicts a bit with other interests so that keeps life interesting!” One of Bill’s favorite books is Nelson Mandela's “A Long Walk to Freedom.” When at the gym working with his students, Bill doesn’t favor any particular apparatus. The best moments, he shares, are the ones when big challenges are finally achieved. That makes sense since Bill’s favorite quote, from Vince Lombardi, is: "If you will not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Altius Staff Member Profile: Maygan Mills

Maygan Mills has worked at Altius for 2-1/2 years as a coach and special event staff member. Gymnastics seems to get into people’s blood and Maygan is no exception. She’s been involved in the sport since she was 4 years old and recently celebrated her 18th birthday. When she was competing, she enjoyed working on the beam the best. “My favorite skill that I can do would be either a flyaway off of bars or a back full on the floor/tramp,” she says. Like so many of us, Maygan has been a fan of following world-class gymnasts. “I loved watching Tasha Schwikert and Courtney Kupets the most,” she says. And she adds that she admires Nadia Comaneci since she looked so elegant as she performed her routines.

Maygan, who graduated from high school when she was 17, is an avid reader, especially of the classics. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee tops her list. She also enjoys many of the Disney animated movies and the TV show she never misses is Criminal Minds. Maygan brings a sweet smile and a helping hand to Altius and if you’re trying to move a stack of chocolate chip pancakes, she can definitely help you out since they’re her all-time favorite thing to eat. Maygan’s motto was actually coined by D. L. Moody - "Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Altius Staff Member Profile: Brandon Robb

A popular presence at Altius is Brandon Robb, the dynamic head of the boys’ program and coordinator of special events and parties. He’s involved in some accounting for the business as well. He graduated with a degree in Accounting from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in December 2011. 

This big fan of the movie Die Hard says he’s been in gymnastics since he was born and considers the Pommel Horse his favorite event to compete in. He’s officially worked at Altius for 8 years and enjoys coaching Floor the best. Brandon is looking forward to this summer’s Olympic Games and believes Morgan Hamm is a great Olympic athlete. When he’s not at the gym, Brandon could be found eating pizza--his favorite food--watching the TV show How I Met Your Mother or playing what he describes as “way too many video games”. Brandon has a lot of fun with the kids he teaches, but everyone had better work hard because his biggest pet peeve is “lack of effort”.