You know the old saying, “it just seems like yesterday.” That’s what it seems like to Tim Chesla the owner of Northstar Gymnastics Inc. NorthStar is entering their 20th season in business in the Rockford area. Chesla has been in the gymnastics business since December of 1977 when he purchased Alpine Gymnastics which was in Comstock Park. In 1990 he had the opportunity to open a gymnastics center in the Riverview Athlete Club. In 1992 when the owners wanted to expand the fitness business in the club they needed the gymnastics area to complete their plans.
“We had a very large clientele from the Rockford and surrounding areas. I really wanted to get into the Rockford area but the right opportunity just wasn’t there for the correct facility,” Chesla said.
In the early part of 1994 the opportunity presented itself. Chesla had been working with a realtor in the area who called and said a local business owner had interest in the project.
“The day I meant Norm Byrne was very interesting,” said Chesla. “From his end it was ‘we can make this happen’. We got to know each other and the plans went ahead quickly. “
In June of 1994 the building of Northstar started. An addition was built onto the Byrne Electric building for their the tool and die shop and then the old tool and die shop was renovated and expanded into a gymnastics center. They opened in August of 1994.
“We had some equipment in the building and one of our staff members built a working model of how the gym would be set up. In the later weeks of August we were there most days 12 hours a day getting ready for our official opening,” states Chesla. “I remember one day just after opening Norm and I were doing something on the project and he said to me, ‘We should probably get the lease signed for the property.’ That’s how busy we were, but it also showed the level of faith we had in the project and each other.”
Chesla says the business philosophy remains very close to what it was then. “It’s about each and every customer that comes through the door, kids and their parents.”
Chesla remembers the hard work and dedication it took to adhere to that philosophy. “There were times last year we were teaching nearly 500 kids per week. Our goal is to have children gain a love for learning and fitness. Through the challenges of gymnastics we want to further build their self-esteem. We strive to accomplish this from our one and a half year old program all the way through our competitive level gymnasts.”
While the philosophy remains the same, the part of the business that does change is the technical equipment. Northstar strives to keep their facility state of the art. January 2012 saw the addition of new equipment. In August of 2012 was the renovation of the gym area and expanded viewing area. Just this month they have renovated the foam pit, added new trampoline pads, put in a new vault system, put new carpet in the gym area, and the list goes on.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 9:30 a.m., when the first kids start coming through the door, will mark the beginning of the 20th year that NorthStar will be striving to enhance the lives of new and current students in the Rockford area.
NorthStar Gymnastics Inc. is a full service gymnastics center located at 723 Byrne Industrial Dr. They have programs for all ages and abilities. They also offer open gyms, birthday parties, and field trips.