It all started with a girl interested in dancing. Now it has turned into a 20,000-square-foot facility that produces award-winning stars.
And Ken Goodworth, who started it all, has all his dreams coming true.
“My daughter started in dance many years ago and I was interested in dance and gymnastics,” he said. “So I asked if I could help out. And they said ‘yes.’ And it all kind of went from there.”
By day, Goodworth is a mechanical engineer with a firm in Salt Lake City, where he works on designing machines that package machinery.
“Back at that time we had moved to Tooele and we were starting out with the gym,” Goodworth said. “I asked my boss if I could go to three days a week in order to have more time to spend at the gym.”
The boss gave good advice.
“First of all, he said ‘Why trade something known for something that is not sure?’ But if you want it, I will support it,” Goodworth remembers the boss saying. “Then he told me some great advice, which is to get really good help in your gym.”
Gymnastics is an expensive sport, with high insurance rates, expensive equipment and the need to find qualified coaches.
“The problem is our little gym in Grantsville could not support a full-time employee,” Goodworth said. “So we thought we could move to Tooele and get bigger for both towns.”
It was a gamble to set up a fully-equipped gymnastics gym, Goodworth said.
“But it turned out to be a good thing,” he said. “I didn’t have the time or energy to keep up with two gyms. Now we have a big facility for all our athletes.”
Tooele Gymnastics Academy has a facility at the Tooele Industrial Depot. It recently did a major renovation, going from 10,000 square feet to 20,000 with more space for an office and staff.
“After we got that facility, we moved all of our equipment and staff over to Tooele,” he said. “It has been a good thing for us.”
Since starting the gymnastics part of his plan, Goodworth has also added more training options for local youth.
“We have since added a cheer team, teaming up with Infinity All Stars and Tiffany Philips,” Goodworth said. “They came together with us and we are all stronger together.”
In fact, the cheer team had its first competition last weekend, with different age groups working in different divisions.
The three teams together took first, first, Grand Champion and Best Overall awards.
The gym has also added a dance studio with mirrors as it begins to offer more dance classes.
“It has really been a dream of mine to have dance cheer and gymnastics with tumbling all in the same place,” Goodworth said. “I wanted a place where parents could bring their children and offer to them a place where multiple sports were offered.”
There are some differences in the sports, Goodworth noted.
“Cheer and gymnastics are sort of opposites,” he said. “Gymnastics is sort of a ‘nose in the air’ type of sport with everything done exactly a certain way.”
But cheer is very different, and still evolving as a sport, he said.
“Cheer is not so formal,” he said. “Of course you still have to follow the guidelines and the safety rules, but it can be more relaxed.”
Offering different type of sports and activities has also brought more boys and young men into different programs.
“We used to be only about 10 percent boys,” Goodworth explained. “But we developed a new program for them, and we have seen an increase in the number of boys interested in Warrior Fitness.”
The Warrior Fitness program is something that offers a combination of martial arts moves, gymnastics and obstacle courses.
“It may be they start on an obstacle course moving around blocks, then do a flip against a wall, then jump on the trampoline and hit a bell before landing in a foam pit,” Goodworth explained. “It changes and can be a variety of fun moves.”
A lot of boys are moving into that sport that combines so many activities but it not traditional tumbling.
With the gym growing, Goodworth continues to manage his job in Salt Lake with his coaching and overseeing the gym and its activities.
“I have some great mangers that really make it all work out,” he said.”We have Jessica Anderson as our gym director and she handles all the office work, registration and students.”
Goodworth keeps track of the equipment, money and the gym layout. How the gym is organized is important when managing multiple sports in the same area.
With good coaches, it is all possible he said.
“We work hard to get coaches that have been in gymnastics or cheer before,” he said. “We have had some training from really good coaches and the experts who have been with us before.”
Most of the athletes in Tooele are here for experience, skills and as a hobby, Goodworth said.
“In Tooele, we are not as hardcore as you could get in the Salt Lake area,” Goodworth said. “But if you are interested in that level of competition, then the Salt Lake area has more opportunities with full-time coaches and staff.”
Goodworth wants his students to learn and compete but be balanced.
“I realized I was never going to be a manager in my professional life, but I still wanted to be in charge,” he said. “At the gym I choose its future, I own it and I have the input into all of that.”
Goodworth says he enjoys offering a service to the community, especially when he can do something he enjoys.
“I don’t want to give up on the teaching and coaching. I have always enjoyed it and I enjoy watching the kids enjoy it,” he said. “That is what I started with and what I like the most.”