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Fun and fitness at Corkscrew Gymnastics

Caption
(Candace H. Johnson - For the Northwest Herald)
Sam Conners, program director and co-owner of Corkscrew Gymnastics & Sports, works with Jenelly Rios, 8, Lexi Belyaev, 6, and Riley Ten Bruin, 5, all of McHenry, on strengthening their stomach muscles on the uneven bars during a beginner's gymnastics class at Corkscrew Gymnastics & Sports Academy in McHenry.
Caption
(Candace H. Johnson – For the Northwest Herald)
Sam Conners and Karina Pauly, co-owners of Corkscrew Gymnastics & Sports Academy in McHenry.

McHENRY — Eleven-year-old Gabby McMillan bounded off the gym floor at her mother’s call, then paused to catch her breath as she pondered a question.

“I like how the people teach you how to do stuff that you don’t know how to do yet, and there’s a lot of fun activities, like dodgeball,” said the Wonder Lake girl, still breathing hard after running around the gym at Corkscrew Gymnastics & Sports Academy with two of her three siblings.

The new business is located at 2309 N. Ringwood Road, Suite Q, McHenry. It is a dream come true for Karina Pauly, her husband, Rich Pauly, and their business partner, Sam Conners, aka Coach Sam, aka program director. Along with the Paulys and Conners, the gym employs trainer Alexis Madura.

Corkscrew Gymnastics opened Dec. 3, about a year and a half after the Paulys and Conners shared chilled treats and conversation.

“We were out for an ice cream cone one day and Rich said ‘Hey, would you like to open a gym?’” said Conners, who is USA Gymnastics-certified and at that time had been coaching the Paulys’ daughter, Ava, for about four years.

The gym at which Ava had been learning had closed. So the three decided to give the business a shot, melding Conners’ gymnastics expertise with Rich Pauly’s business acumen and Karina Pauly’s desire to provide a venue appealing to parents.

Karina Pauly, also a dental hygienist, manages the sports academy office. Rich Pauly, who works in project management at an area firm, composed the trio’s winning business plan.

Used to obtain a small business loan, the plan benefited from free resources available at the Shah Center for Corporate Training in McHenry, Karina Pauly noted.

“They helped guide us as to what we needed to add to the business plan, what we needed to take out. They also helped us find bankers to approach,” she said.

Conners said the partners’ biggest investment to date has been in equipment.

Visitors at Corkscrew Gymnastics will find a 42-by-42-foot competitive gymnastics floor, Spieth Anderson uneven bars, a competition beam, mats, a 30-foot-long tumble track (like a rectangular trampoline), a pommel horse and more.

They even have an object that looks like a cushioned, three-dimensional, open-mouthed Pac Man symbol, which Conners referred to as a back handspring machine.

Corkscrew offers lessons for all skill levels and ages, from 16 months to adult. Ten-week sessions range from $115 to $150, and new enrollees can join mid-session at a pro-rated fee.

Also offered are twice weekly two-hour, supervised open gym times. Visitors pay $5 for one hour or $10 for two. Dodgeball is offered at 5 p.m. Saturdays. The fee is $10 for a two-hour session. Birthday party packages and private lessons also are available.

Conners said that for now, the partners are focusing on recreational rather than competitive gymnastics.

“Everyone’s out to build that next Olympian,” Conners said. “That’d be great, but we’re more into physical fitness, getting back into health … something besides video games.”

After becoming established, they hope to expand and build competitive programming. Meanwhile, it’s purely about fun and fitness.

“I’m learning how to do a cartwheel,” said 11-year-old McMillan, and she headed back toward the mats.

Corkscrew Gymnastics & Sports Academy:

Location: 2309 N. Ringwood Road, Suite Q, McHenry

Office hours: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Information, class schedules: 815-345-5400; www.corkscrewgymnastics.com

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