PUHI – In the past seven years, the Kaua’i Gymnastics Academy has not only been Lisa Fairchild’s prized project, it has been her source of therapy.
Fairchild began the Academy in a small Kilauea classroom in 1995. At that point it was called the “North Shore Gymnastics Academy,” and the veteran instructor taught approximately 30 students.
In a few short years, her gymnastics school grew exponentially. What was once a 30 student school harbored over 150 students. What once was limited to a small classroom now included a 2,000 square foot facility in Puhi, with all the necessary amenities to properly teach aspiring gymnasts. She took on a partner from Chicago to help teach the flourishing Academy. There was seemingly no limit to the school’s growth. It’s success promised an even brighter future.
But as life’s circumstances test even the strongest of characters, they threatened to topple everything Fairchild had built.
Not only did she lose the help of her fellow instructor, who needed to return to Chicago due to an illness in the family, Fairchild also had to care for Jimmy, her son who was born with a heart defect that, at various points, threatened to be fatal.
Traveling to and from Chicago to get the best medical attention for Jimmy, Fairchild and her husband struggled to keep their lives afloat.
Would Jimmy pull through? Would the Academy continue? Would Fairchild, in trying to juggle being with Jimmy and maintaining the school, have enough heart to go forward with her dreams once the nightmare was over?
From the look of the school today, ever expanding and still without limit, it turns out she had more than enough heart. And Jimmy had enough, too.
Little Jimmy pulled through. Although he still requires regular visits to doctors, his heart has mended and is strong enough to carry on.
Everything seemed to fit in place.
How did she do it? How could Fairchild continue to teach with her son’s illness ravaging her mind?
“I needed the school, it was like my therapy,” said Fairchild, who has been a recreational gymnast since the age of four, a competitive gymnast for eight years and a professional coach for 15 years. “And all of the parents of my students were so supportive…my husband was extremely supportive, and it helped the school to survive.”
Fairchild is teaching gymnastics six days a week. She began the program in 1995 with one team. Now she has four separate teams from the Mighty Munchkin age group (3-5 years) all the way to advanced (up through age 17). She is taking on a few more instructors this year, and is starting fundraising programs to bring her students off-island to showcase their talents. Four of them have already traveled to Knott’s Berry Farm in California to strut their stuff, and Fairchild’s goal is to send 30 of her students for the next trip.
“I always thought things would work out,” said Fairchild, as she zipped through Kapa’a enroute for her next scheduled class. “I kept my prayers and faith in the Lord and had so much help along the way.”
The school’s 2,000 square foot gym is stocked full with “state of the art” equipment, including uneven parallel bars, balance beam, spring tumbling strip and three different types of trampolines, among other things.
Fairchild is a USAG Safety Certified in coaching and is a Certified Skill Evaluator. She is certified in both Child and Adult CPR, First Aid and she also holds certificates for the Kinder Accreditation (KAT) Preschool Program and the Melpd Workshop for lesson plan development.
While a small group at the school wishes to take gymnastics to a higher level, the majority of students enjoy gymnastics for the fun and excitement of learning; they want to use their bodies in ways they never dreamed possible.
For those who are interested in joining the Academy, it is located in the Puhi Industrial Park next to Frito Lay – 1536 Haleukana St #104, Lihue, Kaua’i. Contact the school at (808) 245-8863.