Gymnastics History

Gymnastics 1977"In order for us to understand where we are going, it is important that we know where we came from." --Lewis Carroll

Menlo Park Gymnastics began in 1962 under the direction of Sophie Stallman. The program was contracted on a 60/40 basis with classes being held at Nativity and St. Raymond's schools. During the mid 1960s to the late 1970s, the program was supervised by the Assistant Director of Recreation, Ms. Tommy Joy Denman, and grew to over 500 student hours per week. Assistant Director Denman resigned from the department in late 1977 and Sophie Stallman left the program in 1979.

Between 1979 and 1984, several directors and head coaches were hired to conduct the program, resulting in a decline in participation to a low of 285 students in the fall of 1984. In 1984 the Recreation Commission voted to transfer supervision of the program to city Staff effective January 1985. In February 1991, the Recreation Commission conducted a study to determine the needs of the program, which had dropped to an enrollment of 245 students, and make recommendations for the program.

In 1991, a new Gymnastics Director was hired and the program grew to a level of over 1728 students per week before being limited to 1600 in order to ensure a safe environment.  The program was able to maintain these participant levels for many years. However, the average participation had been between 1100 and 1300 per week.

This highly successful recreational program operated in the old Gymnastics Center and Burgess Gym for several decades.  The program outgrew the facility and as a result the community voted as part of the Measure T Bond in 2006 to build a new gymnastics facility.  In 2012, with a generous donation from the Arrillaga Family, the beautiful, new 20,000 square foot gymnastics center was completed. The Arrillaga Family Gymnastics Center is now overseen by two Program Coordinators, Pearce Wagner and Karen Mihalek. They are currently supported by Savina Krakowski (Program Assistant), Jelena Gaines (Administrative Assistant), and a highly qualified team of instructors.  

The City of Menlo Park Gymnastics program offers a place where people can learn gymnastics, meet new people, have fun and feel comfortable. Our purpose is to teach children first and gymnastics second, with safety always the highest priority. Our mission is to create classes in which children experience happiness, the joy of movement, and the satisfaction of success.  In a fun and exciting format, children are challenged to think and then respond with purposeful controlled movement, thereby improving sensory functions and developing a positive self-image. Students learn gross motor, fine motor, social, and language skills. Our goal is to teach the health benefits of physical activity, proper nutrition, and the discipline and pleasures of participating in a recreational sport. These values have remained steadfast since 1962!

Facility offerings include preschool and developmental gymnastics, competitive boys and girls teams, circus arts classes, a therapeutic recreation program, birthday party packages, contract classes, and facility rentals.