Monthly Archives: October 2015

An Interview with Gymnastics Supercoach, John Geddert

John Geddert photo

John Geddert is an international gymnastics coach and owner of Twistars Gymnastics Club in Lansing, MI. John was the head coach of the 2012 US Olympic Coach and the 2011 World Team Head Coach. He is the most decorated women’s gymnastics coach in Michigan history with a club record of  2,445 wins to 63 defeats at the State Championship Competition having more wins than every other gymnastics club in Michigan combined. He has been named coach of the year numerous times by different organizations, has coached over 50 National Team members, and was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Region 5 Hall of Fame. The list goes on with many more impressive gymnastics coaching feats.

Nimble Sports: Tell me a little bit about when you started the gym. What series of events led you to open your gym and why here?

John Geddert: “Well, I’m a Michigan native and my wife and I are from Alpena; we both did high school gymnastics there. We both went to Central Michigan. Fell in love with after school gymnastics programs and working with children and it progressed from there to coaching high school gymnastics.”

NS: In Michigan?

JG: “In Michigan. We did the high school at Mount Pleasant High. Then we tried to take it a step further, get a little more serious. Most people don’t know that high school gymnastics is more recreational based than club gymnastics. Club gymnastics is a little more serious. I really wanted to get serious with the gymnastics coaching so I did an apprenticeship program in Maryland for 4 years under the national team coach at the time. Then came back here and had an opportunity to take over a club here in Lansing, Michigan. At the time it was called Great Lakes Gymnastics. I worked there for 12 years, worked into partial ownership and then decided I wanted to be full owner so my wife and I opened our own program in 1996. Actually had an Olympic alternate for the Atlanta games and it was a small location at the time, very efficient but pretty small but then we outgrew it within a year. So then we opened this facility so now we have the original location. . . Well it’s actually not the original location, kind of, we changed gyms out there too and then we have the mega facility out here.”

NS: So what would you say has made your gym so successful?

JG: “I think it’s the combination of a lot of different things. One, Kathryn and I surrounding ourselves with very good people. you can’t have the kind of success that we have without tapping into the resources that you have around you and that would be mostly my staff. I have a phenomenal staff whether it be our office staff, recreational staff, assistant staff, assistant coaches to us; just a bunch of passionate people that not only love the sport of gymnastics but love kids. So that’s probably number one. I think philosophy has a lot to do with it. We’re really good at gymnastics. We’ve won more state championships than all other teams in Michigan combined in the last 25 years. If you add them all up, then we have won more than all of them. But that’s not what floats our boat, we’re good because we do things in a systematic, we have a system and an approach and a philosophy that just keeps creating really good results. So I think our philosophy of doing good things for kids, teaching them more about life than just gymnastics, I think that’s a big part of it. And you teach them things like goal setting an achievement, time management, and self discipline, honesty, integrity and all that and that transfers into they work harder in gymnastics and because of that we do well. So I think that’s it and probably the third thing is we have the best facilities around anywhere and so that certainly helps.”

NS: What’s your favorite part about owning and being at the head of this operation?

JG: “I’ve been coaching for 30 years and I can’t think of a day I didn’t want to go to work because I get to go play with kids for a living. The bright eyed, smiling faces, energy, the enthusiasm of youth is inspiring. I love the process of coaching, creating a masterpiece so to speak, piece by piece. Some people compare it to painting, you paint one little bit, then all of a sudden it starts taking shape. Sometimes it takes years to do that but the end product is so beautiful when they walk out of here. We have doctors and lawyers, and great professionals who come back for reunions; it is great. It just makes it all worthwhile.”

NS: So touching more on the kids and the focus on the kids, does the gym offer individual classes or is it just really team based? What are the options?

JG: “Everybody gets the misconception about our program because we’ve had international caliber athletes you know, our team, this program is so successful and we’ve had Olympians and I was an Olympic coach everybody thinks that you have to be a competitive team athlete to be here. 95% of our enrollment is recreational based. They come once or twice a week to jump on the trampoline, get a little fitness; our job at that point is to make them fall in love with the sport. Regardless of what sport people are going into, gymnastics is the greatest base of all. No other sport teaches the strength development, agility, focus, coordination, those kind of things, flexibility, that you can use in any sport. So a lot of our recreational students go on to be excellent athletes in other sports which is great, we’re providing a service for the community and that’s good. We love it for all of them to choose gymnastics, yeah but everybody comes in different size, shapes, and motivations.”

NS: So what’s in the next 5-10 years for you?

JG: “You know everybody keeps asking me that. I don’t feel like I’m running out of gas so I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. Obviously I need to come up with an exit strategy sooner or later. My son is heavily involved in coaching so I may be passing on the business to family. I have some other coaches who are interested in taking over. I just want whatever we have started here not to end when we are done. I want to continue the service for Michigan and the mid-Michigan area.”

NS: So any rising stars you can talk about?

JG: “We have gym packed with talent. Gymnastics has different levels from beginning, middle on up, and we have talent at every level. We are going to world championships, I am leaving on the 15th for the world championships in scotland. We’re training a young lady from Trinidad who has her goals of making the olympics for her country and she is training here to do that because their training situation isn’t world class down there obviously so thats going to be a unique opportunity if we can get over that hump and get to the real games, that would be wonderful.”

For more information about John Geddert’s gym, visit the Twistars website at http://www.twistarsusa.com/gymnastics-lansing-mi