When Clayton Peters first stepped on the mats at the Pictou County Gymnastics Club he was terrified. The thought of jumping? Petrifying.
Much has changed over the last year for the toddler. Now three, Clayton runs around the gymnastics club eager to go from one activity to the next. He jumps and swings on the equipment and walks across a balancing bar without hesitation holding onto his mother's hand.
"It's really good for him," says his mother Lori Peters.
Clayton has some development issues and has had to take physiotherapy. Peters enrolled him in gymnastics to improve not only his physical abilities, but also his social. Every day she sees an improvement.
"This is wonderful for him," she said. "It really helps him a lot."
But the opportunity for Clayton and other kids in the class wouldn't be available if it weren't for Wendy Cruickshank, who started the club in 2009. Since then it has moved a couple of times and is now located in a building behind the Tim Hortons in Stellarton.
Prior to its opening, parents had to travel to Truro if they wanted their child in gymnastics.
"Thanks to Wendy you don't have to do that anymore," Peters said. "Myself and other parents are so thankful she started a gymnastics program in Pictou County."
Cruickshank said she has more than 250 students enrolled in programs ranging in age from 18 months to adult. Even she is amazed at how popular the programs are.
"I didn't advertise for this term over the summer at all," she said. "It didn't take us long to fill up at all. There's been a big need for it for a long time."
Cruickshank started gymnastics herself when she was 10 and had her interest sparked again when her own daughter started in the sport at age four. While her daughter decided to pursue other interests at age 12, Cruickshank stayed with it.
"I had my coaching level so I just kept coaching," she says.
While her most popular programs are for school-aged kids, she has 21 toddlers enrolled in her 18-month to three-year-old classes. She said it's great for them to be able to get started young and says it improves their flexibility and body awareness.
"They're a little bit less fearful at that age," she said. "They tend to overcome a lot of the height issues and jumping. They naturally position themselves properly so if you start at this age you don't have to worry about them hurting themselves when they fall."
On the other end of the spectrum she has mixed martial arts athletes who come in and want to incorporate some of the gymnastic techniques into their style.
Next term she'll also be offering an adult class.
The classes they offer range from recreation to competitive.
"We've had some pretty competitive kids," she said.
For more information about the programs call the club 695-3699.