KMB: Austin Gymnastics Club

By Monica Brant – April 1, 2022
Brian Fitzsimmons

This one for me could have gone south for me… allow me to explain.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, I grew up in the country on 20 acres outside of the small town with a 2,500 population at the time. We lived in the county. To help entertain us on those warm summer nights, my dad purchased a round trampoline (no pads to cover springs or net to catch us if we flew off) for my older brother and me. 

Monica exercising.

Quickly, we learned to jump high, bounce one another, and started flipping backward and forward. That trampoline became my way of doing “gymnastics,” as there were no training facilities nearby; plus, I had horses as my hobby, creating a full schedule for me after school.

My brother and I spent hours on that trampoline and became quite skilled, strong and coordinated. Of course, we enjoyed sleeping overnight on it too! 

During 8th grade, I decided to try out for cheerleading as I had watched the cheerleaders flipping around and jumping. I figured I would need to know how to duplicate their moves and tricks if I was going to try out. 

This led me to move the tricks I could do on the trampoline to the lawn we “sprigged.” After all, how much more different could it really be? I had never been on a spring floor so we didn’t consider it would be that much different. 

Monica flipping.

I wish I could remember the first day I tried a front flip, which, in my mind, seemed less scary, and I made it around! Next was the standing back tuck and soon after, back handsprings too! 

So, this became my new thing to practice after school, horses and homework were finished. I remember deciding I would do the same amount of back handsprings in a row as my age. After track practice, my friends even encouraged me to show off my skills, and this became a thing for me still intending to try out for cheer. 

During 9th grade, I joined the POM Squad, which is a pre-requisite for cheer. As the year ended and the opportunity drew closer, my mom sat me down and told me I needed to decide to either do cheer or show horses — I couldn’t do both. 

Monica flipping.

I chose horses and never tried cheerleading.

However, I still had those tricks, and fast forward after graduating high school, I discovered fitness competitions and started my journey in this sport. At 27, I started working with a real gymnastics coach outside of Los Angeles, and by 1998, I won the exclusive title “IFBB Ms. Fitness Olympia.” 

I spent a lot of time on a trampoline and had to relearn the correct method of movement plus things such as a cartwheel and roundoff. My coach thought it was funny that I could flip and do aerials but could not do a cartwheel correctly. But that’s what happens when a country girl just muscles the movement and makes it happen.

My last Fitness Olympia was 1999 and though I competed in other events through 2016, I never was required the gymnastics skill set. 

Monica working out.

So maybe now you can see why this KMB session could have gone south… it’s been 23 years since I stepped into a gymnastics facility. 

When I collaborated with AFM about this feature, I was anxious to see how it would feel again to flip around. Of course, there is so much more to do to train for this sport and Coach Juan certainly put together a killer workout consisting of 11 exercises that would incorporate the entire body — without any flipping around stuff! 

Thankfully, Coach was willing to allow a few minutes at the end of the session for me to get back on the runway trampoline and see if I could still do any of my flips. 

The workout itself had a variety of exercises such as whale tails, handstand pushups, parallel bar sequences/holds, box jumps, candlestick lower downs, pushup hops, single-leg hops to box, leg lifts… just to name a few!

Since time was ticking and, yes, I was fading from the rigorous workout, we ended before the muscle-ups and opted to try out the trampoline. 

Coach Juan was high energy and trained alongside me, so I had plenty of encouragement and visual aid if I needed to see what was expected in the training.

Monica flipping.

It was a super fun session for me, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out I could still get myself around in some standing back tucks and passes of roundoff backflips — with some coaching and a few small “spots” to let me know he was there if I needed him. 

As the clients started coming in, we rounded up my KMB session, and the workout started to set in on my body. Again, it had been 23 years! 

The facility was easy to find with plenty of parking, and they have a huge room with lots of different areas to train. They offer all types of classes and events for all ages and, yes, even adults. They even have Parent Night Out sessions and PJ Parties too! This would have been the perfect place for me as a kid to enjoy.

I highly recommend Austin Gymnastics, and let them know Mo sent ya!


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