Taking students to a specialist summer camp in Montreal, Canada is just one of the ways iGym founder Kim Doherty is upping the gymnastics bar in DB. Carlos Magno reports
At the end of the month, 11 teen gymnasts from iGym Gymnastics are headed to Montreal, Canada for the annual GymRep summer camp. A unique outdoor training site, led by top coaches from Canada, the US, New Zealand and France, GymRep specialises in acrobatic gymnastics and its 11,000-square foot gymnasium contains the largest collection of gym equipment ever gathered under one roof.
Introducing DB students to GymRep is something of a natural progression for iGym founder Kim Doherty, herself a former South African national gymnast (1989 to 1991) and 1990 World Games competitor. Over the past two years, Kim has made it her mission to grow the sport locally and bring her students’ skill sets up to an international standard. From an initial group of only 27 in 2014, iGym is now a near 300-strong family ranging from toddlers to teens.
While Kim holds a Level 1 Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) coaching certificate, she employs an international coaching troupe of former county, regional and national squad gymnasts to help up the bar for DB gymnasts. And all the high-calibre coaching, out of Discovery Bay International School (DBIS) Sports Hall, is paying off. In May, nearly 200 iGym gymnasts competed in their second inter-club competition, supported by the Hong Kong Gymnastics Association. “All the gymnasts performed amazingly well,” says Kim. “The level was incredibly high this year. I think everyone had a great time with lots of smiles all round.”
“We try to instil a passion for the sport and encourage teaching in a way that brings out students’ best,” Kim adds. “It’s important that the classes are a lot of fun. We want kids to love gymnastics.”
This ethos is being born out in the weekly iGym summer camps running through July 14 at DBIS. Designed for kids aged three to 15, from beginner standard to advanced, the courses combine gymnastics with dance, team-building activities and even arts and crafts.
All this goes hand in hand with Kim’s desire to train up not just prize-winning gymnasts but future teachers. As part of its vocational training programme, iGym offers students an opportunity to work out their Hong Kong Award for Young People (HKAYP), with 10 hours of community service devoted to teaching children.
“This generation will be the teachers of tomorrow – you have to instil passion and love into the sport, otherwise there won’t be any teachers,” Kim says. “They don’t have to be elite gymnasts to be teachers. They just have to love the sport. The passion, you can’t learn as an adult. You have to learn it now.”
It’s likely that a number of iGym students will follow in Kim’s footsteps, just as she has followed in those of her mother, who was also a South African national gymnast (1960 to 1964). “I’ve done gymnastics my entire life,” Kim says. “My mother ran a gymnastics school and I grew up in the gym. When I opened my very first gymnastics school (a tumbling school in South Africa) I was 22. I just love the sport.”