You may see it in the Olympics and think it looks cool. But for one local group, gymnastics is a sport, passion and part of who they are.
Elon sophomore Ashley Barron has been a gymnast since she was five years old. What first started as a fun activity, became a passion.
"I spent every afternoon at the gym," Barron said. "I made a lot of really good friends and just it’s just kinda like my outlet for letting my energy out, letting my frustration out. It’s my happy place."
During her freshman year at Elon, Barron realized something in her life was missing. That moved her to start Alamance Club Gymnastics — which has been up and running since this September – to bring college gymnasts together.
"Every practice we have they get all get closer and we all get closer which is a really awesome feeling for me because this is kinda my baby," Barron said.
After nearly 20 years, Barron has finally been the one to stick the landing.
Almost 15 Elon students have tried to start a gymnastics club in the last 20 years, according to Kim Michael, owner of Kidsport Gymnastics Academy in Burlington where the club practices.
Michael, who calls herself "the big cheerleader," opened her gym's doors to Barron because the university's insurance would not cover an on-campus gymnastics club, Barron said.
"These group of ladies are the founding fathers of this group and I’m inspired by what they’re doing at such a young age," Michael said. "I don’t know if I would’ve done that. But I love that they’re doing it."
Michael, a gymnast herself since she was eight years old, said the sport changed her life.
"To be a gymnast you have to be somewhat of a perfectionist and so it made me a better person, always striving to be better," she said. "It taught me perseverance."
The perseverance learned on the floor, carrying Barron through life.
"It’s like a really good feeling to know I kinda made it farther than anyone else and actually got it started," she said. "And hopefully after I graduate that it’ll stay and keep going."
The club practices twice a week and starting in February will compete with other community clubs, as well as other schools like James Madison University, the University of North Carolina Wilmington and NC State.