FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) – The COVID-19 pandemic means a lot of changes for athletes across Indiana. However, kids in individual sports, such as gymnastics, have been able to adjust and overcome these obstacles relatively well.
It takes everyone working as a team at DeVeau’s School of Gymnastics to keep practices safe from coronavirus. There are new cleaning procedures, temperature checks and masks are required when the athletes are not exercising. However, when they are working on skills, the masks must come off, therefore social distancing is a key to the gymnasts’ success.
Gymnasts are used to ups and downs, in a literal sense, but lately, it’s been emotional too.
“It has been an up and down emotional roller coaster,” said 16-year-old Ashnaya Gupta.
Gupta has been doing gymnastics since she was 2-years-old and is a professional at mastering what looks like the impossible. Still, she said the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of her biggest obstacles.
“It was just really hard being out of the gym for that long,” said Gupta.
With the state shutdown in the spring, all gyms, including DeVeau’s School of Gymnastics, were closed for months. DeVeau’s moved to online classes, however, the skills in gymnastics require a lot of muscle memory and in-studio practice.
Now, the kids are back in the gym doing gymnastics, cheer and ninja classes, but things look a lot different.
“We come in with a mask and they take our temperature, to be safe. And whenever we rotate, we have to wear a mask,” said gymnast Brandon Hart.
“They are cleaning a lot! And wearing masks,” added gymnast Zoey Juntgen.
“A lot of social distancing. Six feet in-between everyone while we are at practice. And we have had to have our own chalk bowls and carry our bags around, and no locker room. But, honestly, it’s just been good being back in the gym and practicing,” said Gupta.
DeVeau’s School of Gymnastics owner, Taryn DeVeau, said it took a lot of collaboration with the gymnastic community across the state, to get athletes safely back to practice.
“Making sure that when they come into the gym they are wearing their masks, when they use the restroom they are in their masks, anytime that we may not be able to keep them completely socially distanced, they are in their mask. Unless it is physical activity. Anytime they are doing physical activity, we make sure the athletes are not in their mask, to keep them safe,” said DeVeau.
The gym now has curbside pickup and drop off for athletes. There are modified spaced out schedules, new signs and sanitizing stations and even high tech cleaning machines.
“One of our new cleaning products we have invested in is a fogging machine,” said DeVeau. “Some of our other coaches will walk around, fog the gym and fog the pits. We are the only gym in Indiana with 100% covered pit foam, which is what allows us to clean the pits.”
Despite the constant cleaning and new safety measures, DeVeau said recreational class enrollment is down 40%. Still, the athletes are stronger than ever.
“It has been so fun to see how much stronger, and more flexible and how determined and hard working so many of these kids have risen to be,” said DeVeau.
When it comes to the pandemic, DeVeau said everyone can learn from gymnastics basics.
“Even if things are hard, you fall off the beam and you get back up,” said DeVeau.
Last year, the gym suffered a fire and created the motto “DeVeau’s Strong” to pick themselves up and rebuild. The message rings truer even now than ever before.