LATHAM — This year’s World Class Gymnastics fundraiser for STRIDE is bigger and better than ever.
Besides a performance from Eric Weiskopf’s adult class, the Aug. 28 show features members of World Class team members, the school’s dance team and its special needs class, which recently performed at the Special Olympics.
Still, the stars of the show are the adult gymnasts, who train all year to perform in the exhibition.
“We have a core of veterans who have grown a great deal, and I think the exhibition is one of those reasons because they have something to work towards,” said Weiskopf. “They have a goal, they know it’s a charitable organization they’re working for and it’s an exhibition they know they have to be prepared for. So as we get closer, it really makes them push really raise their skill level a bit.”
Amy Sadlon and Max Schworm have performed in the exhibition every year since it started in 2014.
“I’m a little nervous,” said Sadlon. “Every year, I get a little nervous because for the adults, this is like our time to shine. It’s what we work for.”
Schworm credits Weiskopf’s class for making him a better athlete.
“When I started here, all I could do was a cartwheel. And (now), I can do back tucks, back handsprings, twists—a lot of stuff,” said Schworm. “So, a lot of basics help build up to the bigger moves.”
One of the newcomers participating in this year’s show is New York state trooper Jack Anderton, who recently started taking Weiskopf’s class to maintain his fitness level.
“I’m a New York state trooper, so it’s pretty important to always maintain a high level of physical fitness,” said Anderton, who works out of Troop G’s western barracks in the Mohawk Valley. “Especially with us driving around all day with body armor and everything hanging off our waists, it’s really important to maintain your flexibility and our general strength because it can wear on your body over the years.”
Weiskopf said Anderton—who once was a competitive Olympic-style weightlifter—has been a quick study.
“It’s certainly much easier for people to come in in shape and learn, and so I tell people what they do outside of the gym is more important than what they do in here,” said Weiskopf.
Even so, Anderton admitted he was a little intimidated the first time he attended a class. “You see some of the people who have been doing this for years … they’re really inspiring,” he said.
That’s why Weiskopf makes it a point to have veterans such as Sadlon and Schworm help out the newcomers.
“They’re absolute leaders. They’re the people I can turn to and say get behind those people, watch them — they know exactly what they’re doing,” said Weiskopf.
Schworm said that the veterans are always learning in Weiskopf’s adult classes, too.
“There’s always growing, and the atmosphere here is everybody is learning new things,” said Schworm. “They don’t make you learn anything you don’t want to, but obviously they’re always going over the basics with you to build fundamental moves.”
Those fundamentals not only help gymnasts learn how to create routines, but also help them with activities outside of the gym.
“This gives them the basis to do things that are outside of gymnastics,” said Weiskopf. “We have people coming in with theatre backgrounds and dance backgrounds, and they really just want to get more flexible or they want to start incorporating some of the skills here into their other activities. It’s a nice win-win for that.”
“For me, gymnastics is like my love, so everything that I do is for gymnastics—CrossFit, weights and all that other stuff,” added Sadlon.
The annual World Class Gymnastics benefit for STRIDE takes place Sunday, Aug. 28, at 1 p.m. at its Latham location on Columbia Drive Extension (Route 9R). Admission is $5, though spectators can choose to donate more. Weiskopf added that there will also be prize drawings, and local businesses are encouraged to donate prize packages. Business owners wishing to participate can contact Weiskopf through email at [email protected]