We are a community gymnastics program. I, Sara Beth Gilbert, am focusing on what the community wants. For now, we are at the Chelsea Community Center with a few pieces of equipment. With more students come more equipment and more space. Come join us! With 20 years of experience, I am looking to help your children grow and mature in the most amazing ways.
The heart of everything I did growing up was recreation and aquatics. In the winter months, I was a gymnast. In the summer months, I was a swimmer. Year round, I was and still am a Girl Scout. I completed my American Red Cross swim lessons at a young age, and when I was 4 years old, I asked to join the swim team where I competed each summer until I was 18. I started gymnastics at the age of 5 and continued until I graduated college. And I was a cheerleader for 6 years.
At the age of 12, I became a gymnastics instructor while still a gymnast, at 15 an American Red Cross Lifeguard, and at 16 an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor. After that, I gained my National Aquatic Certification for Water Fitness Instructors from United States Water Fitness Association and then became a certified USA Gymnastics Professional Coach with a Safety Certification. Working at the recreation center, YMCA, Girl Scout camps, and a couple competitive gyms where I spent all my extra time was a real treat and a natural progression through my youthful years. From instructor to supervisor and director, I did it all in the gym and in the water.
In the gym, I coached all levels from pre-team to level 9 and provided choreography for all of those levels on the uneven parallel bars, balance beam, and compulsory floor exercise. I managed the recreational gymnastics programs and all associated staff ensuring all classes were meeting their criteria and students were evaluated periodically. This allowed me to ensure students’ needs were met and to monitor students who would excel, or may be interested, in competitive gymnastics to keep a successful all-round recreational and competitive program.
In the water, I taught all levels of swimming from mommy and me to senior citizen swim lessons and lots of children group swim lessons in addition to swim team. I also taught regular water fitness classes to varying age and fitness levels. In addition to lifeguarding in multiple environments including lake front near a channel and busy rec centers, I also served as waterfront director managing the pool and water front lifeguard staff during summers. I’ve added to these experiences now that I also certify swim instructors and lifeguards.
After completing college at Jacksonville State University with a bachelor of science in computer science and a minor in recreation, a deviation from the career I had created was in order as I started my new technical writing career. I opted not to join a university in Georgia as a pro coach, which was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. Keeping what had become true passions as hobbies over the years had not been satisfying enough and the urge to be in the water and gym, teach, and have by own businesses lingered.
Enjoying people, celebrating their many firsts, and seeing that excitement makes me remember just some of the reasons I love gymnastics and aquatics so much. Every time my students realize they’re doing something new all on their own, I’m as happy and excited for them as if I just did it for the first time. That enthusiasm never goes away.
I believe confidence is the key to success. How can a child or adult feel they can succeed if they don’t believe in themselves? For this reason, we start small and celebrate victories and baby steps along the way, which lead to successfully mastering major skills that include complex integration. Before you know it, that person has overcome fear and anxiety and developed confidence in a safe learning environment. Now they know how to build on that strong foundation leading them to bigger and better things in all aspects of their lives.
But all of this confidence must be nurtured in a trusting and safe environment. Just like most things in life, I must earn trust and respect from my students before they can thrive and begin to build that confidence.
When I moved to Birmingham after graduating from Jacksonville State University, I brought home Mercury, a 5 1/2 month old African Grey parrot, as I did not have plans for a family. After enjoying a successful career as a technical writer for twelve years where I met my husband, the time had come to get out from behind that desk and get back in the water. To ensure a healthy pregnancy if and when it happened, I left technical writing to return to the water teaching swim lessons, water fitness, lifeguarding, swim instructor certification classes, and first aid/CPR/AED training. It was a glorious way to start 2012 and Splash Water Safety was born. I expected to return to the corporate world at some point after having a baby, but at our first ultra sound appointment following Thanksgiving, we discovered we were having spontaneous twins. At that moment, I realized our life just took a life-changing turn that we had not planned for. I stayed in the water until the end of my second trimester when I took medically-mandated leave.
During the summer of 2013, we welcomed Victoria and Zachary into our family, and I returned to the water in the fall realizing corporate America would have to wait. With a flexible schedule I managed, I quickly realized my current profession was much more suitable for raising our twins and so I continued.
Looking for a way to be home with my babies more, I eventually started Two Lucky Designs and CutFiles4U after I started using and loving my Silhouette CAMEO. Working from home and on the computer a little bit allowed me to cut back on the number of hours I worked in the pool being more available for my young children.
The Big Move and New Beginnings
Enjoying life with the twins and participating in more activities made me miss gymnastics even more. After looking for a new home for well over a year, we finally relocated from Birmingham to Chelsea, Alabama, so our children could start at a good public school and we could remain close to our places of employment. Moving mid summer, I started swim lessons in our new community and instantly fell in love with the people, the environment, and everything else about our new community. I was ready to become more involved and was waiting for a chance to talk about all of this with my first gymnastics coach where I spent twelve years as a gymnast and coach.
When a swim lesson mentioned I should teach gymnastics too, it made me realize I could serve the community with my other passion, so I really needed to speak with my coach as I planned to move forward after getting settled into our new home. With a busy summer of swim lessons and starting our children in Mother’s Day Out for the first time after turning four, I didn’t realize I had run out of time to consult with my first gymnastics coach as she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. During a devastating time, I began my journey to find out if our community was interested in gymnastics.
Making Dreams Realities
With an overwhelming response from our community, I vigorously began searching for equipment, space, and everything else you need to run a gymnastics business. That is when a true miracle fell upon me. The daughters of my first coach informed me they were selling all of her equipment. Much to my surprise, it was the very same equipment I watched her buy when I was a young gymnast – when I watched her settle into my home town, have her babies, and grow her business while I performed many of my firsts there. Since I don’t yet have a permanent location, I could not purchase all of her equipment, but I was able to purchase most of it, even pieces I don’t quite have space for yet. The vault and competitive high beam just are waiting for my next larger space.
That brings me to today. We have started classes coincidentally on the eldest daughter’s birthday in January of 2018 with classes offered twice per week, and we all are excited and having a great time. I have a couple assistants right now, Tara and Aleigha, and hope classes continue to grow so I can add them into more classes with more equipment.
In the next year, I hope we grow into needing a larger space with more equipment, and I hope to have my lap pool in my back yard, as well, especially since Chelsea does not have a public pool. I want to offer some great aquatics classes in the summer and some great gymnastics classes during the school year with possible overlap between the two.
Two Lucky Designs and CutFiles4U continue to allow me to work from home and be there for my children. Splash Water Safety and Sara Beth’s Gymnasts allow me to fulfill my own dreams and indulge in my passions while helping the community at the same time. I’m so glad we moved to Chelsea. I feel like we’re home. Thank you for your support on this journey to provide families with healthy activities that not only help children grow and thrive but help give families more time together.
As I mentioned in the 280 Living article, I plan to renew my USA Gymnastics certifications when the time is right.
- American Red Cross Lifeguard
- American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor
- American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor
- American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Trainer
- USA Gymnastics Professional Coach
- USA Gymnastics Safety
- United States Water Fitness Association Water Fitness Instructor