Celebrating Gymnastics and what it brings

Teaching Life Skills Through the Sport of Gymnastics 


It’s more than a clever motto. At Black Hills Gym we sincerely believe we’re not just building athletes; we’re building better people. 

National Gymnastics Day is celebrated across the country to highlight all the best that can come from gymnastics. Each gym can celebrate however they choose, so we went with a free community carnival! This allowed us to share our gym with our athletes and others from the Thurston County area. It’s our hope that they too see how gymnastics can impact their lives and join us! 

With all of this, we got a chance to reflect just how fortunate we are to share our passion. We’ve seen hundreds of young men and women learn perseverance, determination, and grace with our guidance over the last 23 years. We’ve prepared these young adults for all the things that life will throw at them, and they’ve handled it all extremely well. The mixture of individual and team aspects of gymnastics shows an athlete’s personal responsibility and the value of being a good teammate. 

Whether a gymnast wants to become a coach, employee, entrepreneur, or just about anything else, he or she can do so and do it successfully! When a person understands grit, self-confidence, and ingenuity, he or she is primed for winning in all walks of life.

Having an understanding that you need to be coachable is also something we teach at Black Hills Gymnastics. We’re here reverse the trend of disrespect you see in today’s youth. So many are lacking direction and compassion, so we want to be a beacon for the opposite. Raising contributing members of society is a huge responsibility that we step up to each and every day.

So in honor of National Gymnastics Day, we’d like to thank the parents who allow us to play such an impactful role in their children’s lives. We’d like to thank our athletes for always giving their all. Lastly, we’d like to thank all of our previous coaches and staff for maintaining a tradition of excellence over these many years!

You’ve gotta start right to finish right!

What is BHG University about? 


BHG University is a time that our whole recreational staff gets together at the beginning of the fall season. It’s a great time get to know each other better, do some team building, and set the tone for the year! We had a bunch of new coaches join us this past year, so this was one of the first times that everyone’s actually been together. It’s wonderful to get everyone comfortable with each other and on the same page. 

We have Coach Li training our team staff on a weekly basis and we want to pass down that Olympic level training and down into the rec staff and teach them how to do these skills better. We trained on beam and vaults, teaching and training our staff the new way of doing things. This included deep learning and some more simplified drills. It’s super fun and everyone truly soaks it all in! The coolest thing you can see after building a team is seeing them become more involved and self-sufficient! Giving our coaches the techniques to make practice impactful AND fun is a unique challenge and one we seem to get better at year after year.

 How we do things now is so different than the old way of teaching it. We were able to really give the staff some good ideas, so our athletes look forward to and stay attentive through their entire practice.  

With all things at BHG, we sincerely believe in leading our groups to gain the skills and abilities they need to bring out the best in your child. BHG University was one more step towards the greatness coming out of our gym! 


More on Megan Fugitt!

Can you tell us how you got started into the realm of gymnastics?


I did gymnastics at Black Hills gymnastics, Alisa was my coach, and I competed up through Level Seven with her.


What kind of things do you think gymnastics prepared you for?

It definitely taught me how to manage my time. I had to go 20 hours a week to gymnastics, plus school, and everything else. It was definitely time-consuming, so I learned how to do that pretty well. And then also just learning how to have a good work ethic. It’s a sport you had to try really, really hard at and gymnastics didn’t come naturally to me, so I had to WORK at it. 


What was your favorite event to compete in?

I liked the beam the best. I did competitive dance for a long time, so it took my background of that. I liked the challenge of having to stay on the beam!


Is that your favorite event to coach or do you have a different one?


The beam is my favorite between them. And bars is also my other favorite even though I hated bars when I was competing! 


As a coach what are a couple of your favorite moments? 

Last year at state was my favorite. I loved seeing all the hard work that the girls put into everything. And it finally came full circle and they definitely completed all the goals that they had for the season. They went above and beyond my expectations of how they would do! 

I also really like it when girls get their kips on bars. It’s one of the hardest things and it’s such an exciting thing for everybody and everybody around them knows that it was their first kip! It’s so cool because it’s how they get on to the bar, so they’ll use it their entire career.


What levels do you coach at Black Hills?

I coach Xcel; bronze silver and gold and I also coach JO Level 3.


If somebody was looking at Black Hills what would you say to them?

I would definitely say that they’re going to be in a super positive atmosphere. They’re going to be learning all sorts of life skills, no matter where they want to go into gymnastics. It’s great for even little kids, it teaches them discipline and it teaches them body awareness for any sport they want to go into. And then once they get to team, it teaches awesome life skills!

Learn more about Li Lu!

Let’s welcome Coach Erin!

Find Your Power Partners

A look back at our Community Carnival!

National Gymnastics Day is an awesome way for all of us to get together and remember what makes the sport so great! At Black Hills Gym, we decided to celebrate with a free carnival. There were a ton of fun events that anyone in our community could come and enjoy!

Our dunk tank was obviously a favorite! Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to plunge their coach in a tank of water??

To satisfy attendees with a sweet tooth, we had a Cake Walk where we gave away some cute and colorful clown cupcakes!



There was also corn hole, bounce house, face painting, balloon animals, and a play center with our foam pieces.


We want to give a huge thanks to our staff and those who came to celebrate this wonderful sport with us. National Gymnastics Day would not have been the same without you!

Tom Koll – Straight from the Source

When learning anything new, isn’t it best to get it straight from the source? We think so! 


That’s why we recently brought in Tom Koll. Tom wears many impressive hats: he’s the National Junior Olympic Committee Chairman, Women’s Program Committee Chairman, and former Women’s Program Representative on the Board of Directors for USA gymnastics.


In addition to that, Tom has been judging and coaching for over 35 years! But the true reason we brought him to Washington was his expertise in the compulsory routine. He was one of the authors of the 1997-2013 compulsory routines and the current compulsory routines. Tom travels often doing State, Regional, and National clinics throughout the country!


To say he knows what he’s doing is a vast understatement. 



We wanted to bring someone like tom in to really REALLY nail down the details with our athletes. We not only learned the routines incredibly well, we learned what judges are looking for when judging these routines. These finer points, taught by one of the most technical coaches in the nation, mean all the difference. Tenths of a point separate Gold from not placing at all. It puts our athletes’ ability and awareness that much higher than their competition.  This type of one on one instruction is almost impossible to replicate anywhere else.


Black Hills gymnastics makes these sort of connections easier for our young athletes not only to be better at competitions but to show them the value of asking for the amazing help and receiving it. We think a lot of athletes don’t reach their potential because they don’t think big enough. Many gymnasts can also struggle with asking for and receiving constructive criticism. We set the stage to ditch that limiting behavior early in life! It’s true as life goes on, if you don’t seek out the help and instruction you need, you’re leaving a lot on the table! 



Tom is much sought after in the instructional world, so we were very fortunate to have him for a whole day! He showed us very important details which separate excellent athletes from those who execute PERFECTLY every time. This resulted in some amazing foundational breakthroughs for many of our athletes. His work truly will continue the path we are on to bring Black Hills  Gymnastics to a higher level of performance, even more so than we’ve seen in all of our 23 years of existence.

Back to Basics with Rose and Mary Kibala

Black Hills Gymnastics believes to be the best, you have to be well-rounded. Because of that, we bring a lot of talent and knowledge to our girls and boys team clinics. This gives our athletes outside instruction from some of the best in the sport both regionally and nationally!

Two of those people are Rose and Mary Kibala. We brought them in to show us all new routines and to really focus on our basics in dance. Afterward, we got the chance to speak to Rose to find out more about her, her sister and what the value they gave our Levels 3-9 athletes!

Hi Rose, can you tell us a bit more about you and your sister?

Definitely! I’ve been choreographing for over 8 years, and I currently choreograph for local club and high school gymnastics teams. I recently became the Assistant Coach at Newport High School for the Women’s Gymnastics team. Before that, I was a Graduate Assistant for the University of Washington Women’s Gymnastics team.

While at UW, I truly learned to understand that gymnastics is not only an amazing sport but a complete show. Athletes put everything into performing and putting the final touches on routines to make it an awesome performance. This gets overlooked often in gymnastics and the teams that don’t practice their dance techniques and fundamentals really struggle in competition when it comes to execution and performing. Gymnastics matches beauty and power in a wonderful way.

Mary is a professional dancer who performs all around the region. She’s a former member of West Lake Affiliates, a competitive dance team and currently is a full-time dancer with West Lake Dance Center. She’s been a dancer for over 15 years AND has 12 years of Gymnastics experience.

We have an Instagram page where we share many of our dance moves, instructions, and memories we make along the way! 

That’s great! What did you each do at the camp?

Mary taught 3 dances for 3 different groups. They practiced them for 2 days and performed the dances for their families at the end of camp. It’s wonderful to see what they can learn so quickly! She came to help BHG athletes with musicality and performance. Basically, she helped them add personality to what they do so it’s more of a show. A struggle is making sure athletes feel comfortable in their movements, so we go step-by-step in these team clinics, where we bring in outside experts. It’s important to have someone break down the moves within a routine slowly to make sure the finer points are picked up.

I was teaching dance and ballet basics, tapping into the foundation of dance by preaching the basics. I love to help kids realize if they perfect the little things, it’ll COMPLETELY transform all parts of their execution on every event.

Working together, we were able to pack a lot of information and personalized coaching in so each athlete has the tools and skills necessary to dominate this upcoming season!


Any advice during this time of year for athletes?

Summer months are a great time to work on new skills so you can move to the “next level” but it’s also vital to work on the foundation. Taking more time to do dance basics with the extra time you have will solidify the FOUNDATION!

Even if you’re the highest level, there’s always something to clean up.

What should parents or coaches look for when bringing in clinicians or instructors like you and Mary?

Someone who’s detail-oriented and actually takes time to break down movements step by step. If you skip little pieces, it’ll hurt in the long run. And bring in someone who can make it fun!

What stands out with BHG?

Is there anything that makes Black Hills Gym stand out from the other gyms you work with?

This is the 3rd summer I’ve worked with the athletes and coaches at BHG and I really admire what coach Li Lu has really drilled basics, so we had a lot to work with.

All coaches truly make a big effort to constantly improve and striving for greatness while making sure gymnastics is fun! That doesn’t always translate in all the gyms I go to.

Wow! As you can tell, our athletes got some incredible 1-on-1 attention with passionate, skilled instructors. Just one more reason the future is looking insanely bright at Black Hills Gymnastics!

Mimi Hayward Coach’s Profile

Mimi Hayward 


We love Coach Mimi! She offers amazing instruction and guidance to our Boys Teams. Let’s see a bit of what got her to this point. 


How did you get involved with the sport of Gymnastics?


Well, I never did gymnastics growing up! I got into it because my son, Benjamin participated. When he was growing up, we were stationed in Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. It’s often called Fort “Lost in the Woods” for its seclusion. Because of that, there wasn’t a lot to do, so we just put Benjamin into everything we could!  


His little brother wanted to do something too, but he was only 18 months old at the time.  One of the only things available for him was the “Parent and Me” classes at the gymnastics center. 


Ben would always get invited to join by the instructor, who really saw something in him. Fast forward a few years and a change of scenery, we’re here at BHG. 


Since I have both my Personal Trainer and Youth Fitness Certifications, I wanted to see if I could get involved. BHG has taught me so much!  I started as a Rec Team member, and within a year I became the Instructional Boy’s Director. I got pulled to the team side, coaching Level 4 boys team. This year, I am coaching Levels 4,5, and 6! As an extra bonus, last fall I got my Regional Judgement Certification. I love the personal and professional growth opportunities the gym has to offer!  


Why do you enjoy being a coach?


I read something once that shed light on this. I read that having a positive memory of exercise as a kid can lead adults to live even more active and healthy lifestyles. I want to make sure kids have positive memories of athletics for life. 


What are the most important rules for coaching?


Different kids learn differently, kids progress at different rates, and it can be different from one event to the next. 


Also, we spend a lot of time with these kids, at points, maybe even more than their parents! We need to remember the role we’re playing and what we’re showing them. It’s a great responsibility.  We can be very influential!


What do you love about BHG and gymnastics most?


I love the positives that roll over into the lives of the gymnasts!  Our athletes at BHG have learned to manage their time so they can also pour their energy and talents into schoolwork, hobbies, and other activities.  Some of our gymnasts move onto other sports and can apply the strength and coordination they developed in gymnastics, increasing their success in other sports.  I love seeing the strong friendships that develop as the gymnasts work through tough practices, rigorous meet seasons and conquer challenging skills.


I absolutely LOVE all of the learning opportunities BHG provides for me!  I always want to know more and be better. I’ve been able to attend many spotting clinics and other educational clinics through BHG to help better me as a coach.  They have a growth mindset environment in every dept, no matter how big or how small. They truly are a place that teaches life skills through the sport of gymnastics.