The London Olympics may be winding down, but the games are just heating up here in New York.
Inspired by blockbuster athletes like Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, city residents are dusting off their Speedos and leotards and heading to the gym.
At Chelsea Piers, enrollment in upcoming fall semester gymnastics classes is up 45 percent compared to the year before, according to Kim Rich, gymnastics director at the facility.
She said that the new gymnasts include both children and adults.
“They see what the gymnasts are doing on TV, and they say, ‘I want to do what they’re doing,'” Rich said.
The Brooklyn Gymnastics Center in Bath Beach and Lana’s Gymnastics Club in Flushing also told Metro they noticed enrollment increases, along with a rise in calls from inquiring parents.
At Asphalt Green, meanwhile, interest is up roughly 10 to 20 percent for swim classes and the swim team, according to Paul Weiss, chief program officer at the Upper East Side athletic complex.
“We get a heck of a response every four years,” Weiss said. “If Team USA has done well in a sport, it’s even more pronounced.”
Children watching the Olympics develop idols and want to emulate them, while parents are impressed by how the athletes appear so wholesome, noncynical, hard-working and goal-oriented, he explained.
Missy Franklin, for example, comes across as tall, articulate, happy, competitive, social and respectful, he said.
“She’s the Olympic ideal,” Weiss said. “Parents aspire that for their kids.”
Gymnastics not just a girls’ sport
Parents are not always thrilled about their sons participating in gymnastics due to its reputation as a girls’ sport. But because it requires balance, strength and coordination, “It’s actually one of the most amazing sports that a boy can get into, because it will prepare them for any type of athletic career later on,” said Victoria Suleymanova, office manager at Lana’s Gymnastics Club.
Want to catch the golden girls?
The U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team will perform at Barclays Center Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. as part of the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. Gold medalists Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman will both perform, as well as Nastia Liukin, 2008 all-around gold medalist. Get tickets at www.barclayscenter.com or www.ticketmatser.com or by calling 800-745-3000
Asphalt Green honors its own Olympic medalist
Asphalt Green will host a homecoming celebration Friday morning for Lia Neal, who won an Olympic bronze medal in London for the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. The celebration is free and open to the public. Neal, a 17-year-old Brooklyn native, is the first member of Asphalt Green’s swim team ever to make the Olympics.