Bigger and better than ever
- Written by Emma Weaver Sobey
Rowland /Ballard Gymnastics opens new Atascocita location The Rowland/Ballard School of Dance and Gymnastics, a landmark institution in Kingwood for more than 30 years, has embarked on one of their biggest adventures yet: the development of a state-of-the-art gymnastics facility that will retain their family oriented environment while providing more classes and opportunities for area athletes and beginners, alike. The new Atascocita facility has already garnered plenty of interest among residents. “We have been doing lots of tours. We’ve had people coming by and the first thing they say when they come in is, ‘Wow.’ They notice how bright it is and all of the new equipment. We have it set up to make training fun for the most beginner of beginners to the most advanced athletes,” said Dave Ballard, co-owner and founder. The facility, which is located on FM 1960 near West Lake Houston Parkway, boasts 16,000 square feet of space and brand-new athletic equipment. Additionally, the facility has been specifically designed to make the most of the space and allow Rowland/Ballard to include even more classes in their schedule. “Dave is a master at being able to organize the equipment in the gym to be able to get the maximum usage of the space. For most people, it would take a space twice the size to be able to use all of the equipment we have here. But we’ve done it in such as way that promotes good training and safety,” Mike Rowland said. The creation of the new facility allows the school to increase the number of classes they can offer for all levels of gymnasts. Ultimately, they will be increasing their class offerings by as many as two classes per hour, a dramatic change from the classes they were able to offer while restricted to the Kingwood location. “We are still planning to have a full complement of programs at both locations. Our competitive boys will be over there [Kingwood] and our competitive girls will be here [Atascocita]. Kindergym and other classes will still be available at both locations. Now we’ll be able to have more time and space for afternoon and evening classes for working parents,” Ballard said. The facility, a product of years of planning and development, surpasses the most rigorous of safety standards and provides athletes the opportunity to hone their skills, regardless of their ultimate ambitions. It is a facility that caters to the most advanced athletes, but is still accessible to beginners. “Truly, the facility is pretty awesome. We have close to $150,000 worth of new equipment, including everything from the in-grown trampolines to the new beams. We have a 40-foot tumble track, a 30-foot tumble track, two new vaulting tables, trench pits, and everything to accommodate the most advanced kids, but also make learning more fun and safer for the beginner,” Ballard said. When designing the facility, Ballard and Rowland were determined to create the safest and most inviting facility possible. “Safety is a big key. Everything in here is safety certified and our instructors are also safety certified. We are so proud of the fact that we’re now going on our 36th year we are still training with a fabulous professional staff, “ Rowland said. “I always say, a great facility will never surpass the importance of great coaching and great people,” said Ballard. “We are really proud of our staff. All of this [the facility] is just an instrument to be used in the hands of a good coach and our coaches understand kids. The coaches really want the kids to have a good time. It’s a specific philosophy we have as coaches: we want the experience to be positive,” Ballard said. Their success speaks for itself. Many of their gymnasts receive scholarships and opportunities to compete on the collegiate level. Rachel Abrams, who is presently their oldest athlete on the girls’ competitive team, has already committed to the University of Ohio and has received a scholarship, despite the fact that she is only a junior. She is a role model for other aspiring gymnasts. “Rachel has committed to Ohio State, as a junior. It’s pretty cool that the little guys can aspire to someday reach that level,” Ballard said. The new facility in Atascocita is open for tours and both Rowland and Ballard encourage people to check out the new offerings. Until Jan. 8, they are offering free passes for Fun Gym to anyone who takes a tour. Finding the entrance to the building confuses some people, but Ballard advises that it’s worth the effort. “The entry is between Lowe’s and H-E-B. There are signs that show where to go. Once you find us, we’re worth it. You just have to find the building,” Ballard said. Photos: (Top) Gymnast Shelby Jeffrey demonstrates strength and precision on the balance beam. (Bottom) The Rowland/Ballard School of Dance and Gymnastics is a landmark Kingwood institution that has been training and nurturing competitive athletes for over 30 years.