History of Olympia(d)
In January of 1979, Olympia Gymnastic Training Centers began with an idea, a hope, and a great deal of enthusiasm. By 1995 over thirty-five hundred gymnasts throughout the St. Louis area attended one of the six Olympia locations per week. Today Olympia is one of the largest gymnastic training companies in the United States.
1979 to 1980 – Sixteen students began gymnastic instruction at the original Olympia gym in North County in 1979. By September of 1980 enrollment had increased to 350 students. The same month a second site in West County was introduced which immediately prospered. The preschool program became recognized as the finest in the St. Louis area. The competitive Team structure increased to 60 girls and the total enrollment by the summer of 1981 was 480 students. In 1980 Olympia expanded to include another branch of the business called “Gateway Gymnastics of America”. The purpose of Gateway was to host gymnastic meets, provide professional services, and initiate a summer gymnastics camp. Gateway hosted summer camps throughout the 80’s at Southeast Missouri State University.
1983 – With the acquisition of an established club in St. Charles in 1983, Olympia inherited another success and molded a fine program into a better one. This center became Olympia Olde Towne.
1985 to 1987 – December of 1985 saw further development when Olympia Chesterfield opened its doors to help service the west county area. The four locations – Florissant, St. Charles, Manchester and Chesterfield – together employed 65 talented staff. Training programs, safety clinics and other professional growth opportunities were made available to the growing numbers of employees.
The facilities at North and Chesterfield were moved in 1987 to new locations to offer the students the latest in gymnastic equipment and training. The following year led to the development of a program for cheerleaders. Gateway Cheerleading provided for over 100 students who wished to pursue cheerleading skills and routines. It became the first competitive cheer program in St. Louis Metro area.
Gateway Gymnastics continued to prosper. It hosted an annual two-week camp in Cape Girardeau and the Midwest Coaches Conference. Gateway had become the largest competitive gymnastics league in the Midwest.
1990 to 1992 – 1990 saw the opening of two brand new Olympia gyms – the South St. Louis County location housed in the All American Sports Mall and a new building in Ellisville. Within one year of opening, the Ellisville facility became the fastest growing program. A portion of the building that was originally designed to be leased to another tenant became instead the headquarters for Gateway Cheerleading, eventually to be renamed Spirit Elite Cheerleading.
In 1991 Olympia Gymnastics made its first appearance in a Busch Stadium pre-game exhibition for the St. Louis Cardinals. Over 800 volunteers and students, ages 3 – teen, took the field in a dramatic display of the sport of gymnastics. This annual event is the largest pre-game on the field activity in the history of Busch Stadium.
With the increasing development of higher skill levels, the need for a new training center became immanent. In 1992 Olympia supported the birth of “Team Central”, a non-profit corporation designed to train athletes who aspire to compete on a national level and someday represent the U.S.A. Olympia initiated the Team Central staff, athletes, organizational structure and gave financial support.
1993 – The National Level program began in a rented space in West County and in April of 1993, a dream came true. Team Central moved to its own site within Team Central Gymnastics Academy, a 22,000 square foot facility in Maryland Heights. 100 select boys and girls train in one of the best facilities in the Midwest. This non-profit program is designed to support itself with the help of parental, community and corporate donations.
In 1993, the Chesterfield location was devastated by the “Great Flood of 1993”. Thanks to the assistance of many Olympia employees and other volunteers, the gym was completely restored to its original beauty in early 1994. Parkway school district rented space at West Jr. High to house our programs during the renovation, keeping staff employed and children in classes.
1997 – A year of expansion. Gateway Cheerleading moved to a new facility in Chesterfield. At Olympia Ellisville, the exciting new Adventure Gym hosts preschool gymnastic classes and unique Birthday Parties. Olympia North expanded their offices and established a new Rhythmic Gymnastics program and aerobics classes for adults.
2000 to 2001 – We closed the doors of our Olympia South location in March, 2000 with plans to return to the South county area in the future (possibly across the river in Illinois) with a bigger and improved facility that will better serve the communities there.
September of 2001 saw further development when Olympia Festus opened to serve the Twin Cities/Jefferson County area. The gym is housed in the historical armory building of Festus.
2008 – A long time vision was realized in 2008 when Olympia Mid Rivers opened at a completely renovated 20,000 square foot space. Initially, the Spirit Elite classes and squads from Chesterfield and Olde Towne converged to form a distinguished cheer program and the gymnastics program from Olde Towne joined them that fall. With a viewing bridge, several trampolines, two full cheer floors, the best preschool area in St. Louis the facility is a showcase in the St. Peters area.
Olympia Festus added Dance Fever in 2008 and grew rapidly to 70 students.
2012 – The new Olympia/Team Central competitive team was founded and began to take shape. By creating a developmental program for younger athletes ages 4-6 we are providing an opportunity for every child through a highly-organized local competitive team, competitive team and a national competitive team. This year we also, sadly, closed our North gym in Florissant.
2015 – An exciting program called Ninjas was introduced that combines gymnastics with strength training, obstacle course training, martial arts and tumbling and serve a new market of children ages 4 – 14. Highly qualified and certified instructors teach the programs
2016 – The Chesterfield location added 3,000 square feet and added in-ground pits, 2 separate viewing areas, much new equipment and a new look. The Team program exceeds 80 gymnasts, including Xcel bronze through platinum and J.O. levels 3 through 9.
2017 – A year of growth: Three new profit centers were added to our company including a Chesterfield franchise, My Gym, which markets to younger children, a one-of-a-kind training center called Ninja City located adjacent to our Manchester location and a full 9,100 square foot facility in Rock Hill between Kirkwood and Webster Groves. Classes, Parties and Special events are available at all three facilities.
2018 – A year of change: OLYMPIAD GYMNASTICS officially changed its name to OLYMPIA in 2017. In 2018 we rebranded all nine locations to incorporate design features that are professional, kid-friendly, colorful, unique and welcoming. We continued hiring additional high-quality & outstanding staff.
2019 – We celebrated 40 YEARS OF “Good For Kids!” Our company continued to grow and thrive.
2020 – In March of 2020, Olympia doors were closed due to the world-wide Pandemic. It was a time of challenge and uncertainty for our company and the world. Strength, perseverance and extraordinary leadership allowed us to open in the summer ~ following rules and precautions to keep our customers safe while providing children with activities. We opened an E-Learning program to assist school-age children. We introduced a new Ninja City in Ellisville and closed the My Gym facility in Chesterfield.
2021 – Presently, over 250 employees (Olympia & Team Central) devote themselves to teaching children gymnastics and other activities, as well as lessons of life. Our mission continues to be “Building Happy, Healthy, Confident Kids”. Our students, past and present, all over the St. Louis Metro area continue to carry the positive impact of their Olympia experience with them throughout their lives.