Gym, counseling activities combined in new center

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Aerial artist Megan Poole, 19, works out on the silk at the Defy Gravity center at 3198 C Road.

Kim Philia combined her experience as a former gym owner with her more-recent experience as a counselor to create Defy Gravity Youth and Community Center.

The center at 3198 C Road had its grand opening Friday. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, the center offers classes for toddlers through teens in gymnastics, Parkour and aerial arts for a basic rate of $42 a month for toddlers or $48 a month for older students. Parkour was popularized in outdoor urban settings and involves athletic movements around obstacles. Aerial arts include trapeze work and aerial silk dancing, which involves wrapping two reams of silk hanging from the ceiling around a person’s legs or arms to perform stunts off the ground.

From 3 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, the center pairs middle and high school students with dogs from an animal shelter in a free program that some schools count as service-learning credit. The students spend 16 weeks training the dogs, which are then placed with people with disabilities. The training serves as a counseling catalyst.

“We chat about different situations and how you can overcome them,” Philia said.

Philia said she will have an enrichment activity class for people of all ages from 9 to 11 a.m. every other Saturday, counseling sessions for $50 an hour throughout the week, and a free youth night for middle and high school students from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays that involves playing on the center’s gym equipment and discussing a Christian lesson.

There will be an open night on Fridays where middle and high school students can pay $5 to use the gym equipment, hang out, and, some weeks, listen to live music. Middle school students are invited to attend from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and high school students can come from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

Some of the activities are more overtly counseling-oriented than others. But Philia said each activity is designed to help kids feel like they have a mentor they can trust.

“It’s about developing a relationship. I want to encourage them to do anything they have the potential to do,” Philia said.

Philia owned World Gymnastics for 10 years before closing the facility in late 2008. She went into counseling last year and is about to complete her master’s degree in counseling education. She has been hosting some of the activities that will be offered at the center in a barn at her home until now.

Parents can call 216-3043 to inquire about enrolling their children in any of the programs.


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