The Sun News

New gymnastics and cheer gym opens in Houston

Chrystie McIlwain fulfilled a longtime dream with the opening of PunchFront Gymnastics and Cheer on June 1, located at the corner of Ga. 96 and Moody Road.

McIlwain and her two daughters, Savanna and Seayrra, have a love of gymnastics and saw a need for a place like PunchFront, which will combine gymnastics and cheer training with a ministry to help children. McIlwain’s husband, Chris, was also involved in the opening of PunchFront, handling all the contractors, negotiations and timelines.

Along with the gym offerings, McIlwain and PunchFront will be working with Redefin’d, which was founded by Melody McKinley, and sells refurbished furniture using the proceeds to help foster kids.

McIlwain, who competed in gymnastics as a teenager and is a coach, developed a program to set PunchFront apart.

“Specifically for tumbling, we will be teaching ‘drilling the skill.’ Instead of doing hands-on spotting, we build them up to that skill. We teach the athlete in stages, the entry, the block and the rebound and build progression for higher level skills instead of the whole skill at once to help build both their strength and their confidence,” McIlwain said.

Savanna and Seayrra obtained Level 8/9 in gymnastics before deciding to concentrate on cheer. Both girls cheered at Houston County High School. Savanna graduated a few weeks ago but Seayrra will be cheering for the Bears again this fall. The name PunchFront comes from a cheer tumbling move.

PunchFront has registration for classes and team evaluations ongoing through the summer and is registering for fall as well.

There will be two summer camps, directed by Tammy Evans, who has a Ph.D. in education. Camp dates are June 22-26 and July 6-10 and will include gymnastics, dance for girls and wrestling for boys as well as arts and crafts and music.

The Factory Wrestling Academy, run by T.J. Barb, is being housed in the 22,000-square-foot building and will have competitive wrestling for boys. Barb is the Veterans High School wrestling coach. Also residing in the building is a dance program led by Stacy Martinez, who trained with the University of Louisville ballet. Martinez will be teaching tap, ballet, jazz, creative dance to boys and girls.

The space includes a tumble track into a foam pit, a full-size cheer spring floor, a full-size high school cheer mat and all of the Olympic equipment for boys and girls. PunchFront’s cheer director is well known in Middle Georgia: Curt Gentry, who has coached many high school and middle school teams. His role will be to develop PunchFront’s Tumbling and cheer program for all facets of cheerleading.

Several local school cheerleading programs have already started using PunchFront’s cheer and tumble instruction.

Other services offered include Friday Open Gym nights, birthday parties and Parent’s Night Out. The first Parent’s Night Out is scheduled for July 11.

The website offers more details about opportunities at PunchFront as well as registration for classes and camps.