Remodeled, expanded gym a first-class facility

“It’s wonderful to be part of a community that is always trying to grow and improve, expand,” said Tim Chesla, owner of NorthStar Gymnastics Inc., now in its 18th year at 723 Byrne Industrial Drive.

In fitting with a town that is always updating, remodeling and celebrating growth, NorthStar is wrapping up a months-long remodeling project in the 8,500-square-foot facility.

Chesla said the ache in his back is proof of the major work begun on Friday, July 20, is almost complete. The spacious, airy building has had a wall removed, doors taken out, and the apparatus areas reconfigured to provide a safer, more productive gymnastics facility. Now parents can sit in a relaxed and comfortable viewing area without students crowding through as they move from one section of equipment to another.

Old-time Byrne employees likely wouldn’t recognize the former tool and die building, located in the heart of what the Squire jokingly refers to as the “Byrne Kingdom.”

Chesla describes how he came to set up shop in the location. He had a thriving gymnastics business located in Riverview Raquetball Club, but that company needed the space to expand.

“Many of our customers were from Rockford and the surrounding areas, so it made sense to move up this way,” Chesla explained.

He met Norm Byrne and the two began talking about possibilities. In the matter of a few months a new tool and die building was attached to Byrne Electric Building, the old tool and die shop was remodeled, an addition was put on, gymnastic equipment was moved in, and NorthStar Gymnastics Inc. was up and jumping. Things have been hurdling right along ever since.

“The whole northern Kent County area seems to be really into their kids, into a well-rounded growing up,” said Chesla.

He said when the doors at NorthStar opened, the gym was immediately at capacity. “We opened and we outgrew. The facility expanded into an unused room and in June 1995 we added

on again.”

Today NorthStar is using every inch of square space and with the reconfigured work stations, better than ever able to meet the needs of clients with a top-of-the-line facility right here in the heart of the area.

“You don’t have to leave the Rockford area to have the finest facility,” Chesla explained.

He is proud to have offered his business to thousands of children over the years, building confidence and self-esteem with each skill level gained and each new move mastered. Interest in gymnastic remains high, with a record 300 to 400 attendees in an open house held last month. During open gym periods, when the facility is open to the public for first timers to see what NorthStar offers, as many as 80 kids come in.

“Gymnastics is such a sport of self-confidence,” Chesla described.

He said the business does have teams that compete, but even then it is the individual effort of each youngster that puts the excitement into the sport.

“Physical fitness is a fun thing. They get a little tired, but that is part of being fit. They are so excited as they obtain goals and learn skills,” commented Chesla.

He said he loves that about his business, and said even the smaller kids, ages two and up, are thrilled as they jump off stuff, learn about control of their bodies and learn skills such as cartwheels. The thrill continues as kids mature, and high schoolers continue to gain confidence as they learn more challenging moves, such as back tucks and back hand springs.

NorthStar offers all the gymnastic activities you would expect from a professional gymnastic facility—tumbling floors, balance beams, trampoline, vaulting. Students learn their rolls and cartwheels through a progressive goal system as they accomplish new techniques. Teams prepare through the four events set forth by the USA Gymnastics.

For Chesla, the gymnastics business is lifelong love and a career he has lived for the past 35 years when he unexpectedly bounced into the position of owner. A college student, he started helping out at a gymnastics center in the Comstock Park area where his girlfriend worked. In December 1977 the owners wanted to sell it, so at the ripe old age of 19 he found himself in business.

“I thought I would be in it for a few years and probably sell it, but I guess I forgot to,” he laughed. “We want people to know that in northern Kent County businesses are going above and beyond to offer the best there is right in your community.”

To find out more about the programs at NorthStar Gymnastics Inc. you can go to their website at, visit them on Facebook, or call the facility at (616) 866-8731.

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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.