gmhTODAY 13 gmhToday March April 2017 - Page 19

C arol Kromer, co-owner of The Little Gym in Morgan Hill with her husband Kurt, still remembers the awe she felt at age ten watching gymnast Nadia Cománeci compete in the Olympics. “I was glued to that TV, saying I want to do that.” Kromer pursued her passion, competing on the team for Cupertino High School and “grew” her sport into college at DeAnza College. Years later, after working at home as she raised her four children, she was excited to take advantage of the opportunity to open a Little Gym business just before her husband received a job transfer to Washington State. “I love the sport of gymnastics. And I love children, so it was a perfect fit to be a coach,” she recalled. Having just been certified through “owner boot camp,” with a house purchased in Washington, and a space almost rented for her new gym, her husband’s company canceled the transfer. “There I sat with a lovely piece of paper saying TODAY . congratulations, but now we’re not moving,’” she told Fortunately, there were several other territories in need of a Little Gym, including Morgan Hill, to which the south San Jose resident said she felt “drawn.” The Kromers opened the gym in July of 2006, and the ten-year-old gym now offers over 48 weekly classes to more than 475 members, ages four months to twelve years. All classes three and under are parent-and-child together. Kromer adores Morgan Hill’s community, and the feeling appears to be mutual. Last year, the centerpiece of their unfinished parade float—a small wooden play- house—was stolen off their truck on the property. Kromer recalled, “I was so upset and hurt that anybody would do that,” but she posted a message on their community page asking if anyone had seen the missing house. The community flooded her with financial donations in reply. “I was overcome with emotion,” she said, tearing up. While there are several gyms in Morgan Hill, what sets The Little Gym apart, said Kromer, are its ideals of “putting family first, and focusing on nurturing the child not just pushing to build skill, and teaching through a positive environment.” The Little Gym relies upon a teaching method she called “specific positive feedback.” She gave the example, “Every time a child does a skill I will evaluate that skill immediately and say, ‘I loved the wa y you kept your arms really straight, next time try to kick your feet up just a little higher.’ This offers children something to feel proud of about themselves but also offers concrete areas of improvement. We never yell at them,” she said. “There’s so much of the world that will drag them down, we want to build them up.” Kids learn numerous skills, from self-confidence, to memorization, to brain- boosting activities in the three and under classes. Along with gymnastics, karate, dance and sports classes, they offer a preschool enrichment program, summer and school holiday camps, parents’ survival nights, holiday-themed events, numerous other activities and birthday parties. Visit their website at: gmh GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2017 19