A group of aspiring Olympic gymnasts training in Connecticut aren’t spending their days on balance beams and uneven bars. Instead, they’re flying high on trampolines at Dynamite Academy of Gymnastics in Waterbury.
The husband and wife coaching team of Lewis and Jennifer Rodriguez started this in 2000 and began focusing on trampoline in the last decade.
They said the sport develops several athletic and mental skills in children and allows athletes to compete longer than in traditional gymnastics.
“Bouncing is fun, everybody loves to bounce. It is a phenomenal sport,” Lewis Rodriguez said.
“In Connecticut, absolutely, we can train kids to the Olympic level,” Jennifer Rodriguez said.
The gym has already trained more than a dozen nationally ranked athletes and currently has about 20 training in trampoline.
They also run traditional male and female gymnastics programs, but their hope is to popularize trampoline, which has historically been dominated by teams from China and around Europe.
“In the United States, we’re just starting. But in Europe, it’s huge. Overseas, we’re talking competitions that are rivaling gymnastics competitions in attendance,” Lewis Rodriguez said.
Competitive trampoline is anything but easy, the coaches said.
At the elite Olympic level, athletes often train for the sport like a fulltime job.
“It’s highly competitive. They have to constantly understand their awareness, where they are in relation to the trampoline. It has to do with physics” Jennifer Rodriguez said.
All four of the Rodriguez children are currently training in the sport and have aspirations of one day representing the United States at the Olympic Games. Two of the couple’s daughters will be performing in upcoming gymnastics events in Hartford and Bridgeport.