Daily conditioning, training and stumbling for a successful landing are part of the weekly routine of Baton Rouge Valor Elite Group.
Maycee McKnight joined the Elite group after 10 years of gymnastics practice.
“I excel more than I think I am,” said McKnight.
But Simone Biles’ Olympic mental health crisis after dropping out of gymnastics this summer changed McKnight’s perspective.
“Maybe something is really going on and maybe it’s an important thing that we really need to look at and get more attention,” McKnight said.
McKnight can relate to Biles as she has also struggled with physical injuries and personal pressures.
Not only are the gymnasts balanced on the beams, they are now balancing their mental and physical health with the help of Valor Gymnastics.
“We’ve partnered with a physiotherapy group called METS because part of mental health is physical health,” said Bryan Kiser, owner of Valor gymnastics.
Kiser also said that Valor has partnered with Patient Plus, an emergency care clinic, and advanced communications with parents.
While Valor Gymnastics is full, Kiser said his gymnasium again saw a 15% drop in registrations compared to other Olympic years.
“What we got as gym club owners was, ‘Hey you guys pushing these girls, what are you doing about their sanity,’ Kiser said.
As the topic of sexual abuse in athletics has received greater national attention, Kiser is focusing on opening up with glass windows for parents as well as security cameras.
“I have nothing to hide,” Kiser said.
Another major improvement at Valor, Kiser doesn’t allow his coaches to yell or yell at gymnasts.
“There is no screaming and screaming in my gym,” Kiser said. “Nobody pushes kids really hard. We keep them moving. The fun is learning gymnastics.
Gymnastics is also accompanied by physical and mental injuries.
Valor’s partnership with METS Physical Therapy provides gymnasts with a safe space to go to when in pain or anxiety.
“One of our gymnasts loves to come every time she has something — if Mr. Mike says she’s okay, then she knows she’s okay,” said Kirby Moseley, CEO of METS.
With the specialized features of METS such as Oxfit and Gameready, young gymnasts can be treated before serious injuries occur and can avoid lengthy benchmark procedures.
“The confidence of knowing that if something is wrong, Mike will get me back,” said Michael Moseley, physiotherapist and owner of METS.
METS has the only Oxfit preselection machine in the state as well as Gameready and other features that are useful for improving the performance of young developing gymnasts.
Gymnasts pay a monthly fee to receive this special membership which allows Moseley to examine any injuries or pain that may be bothering them.
“We are able to see them from the start ‘my elbow hurts’,” said Kirby Moseley.
Kiser is hoping other gyms in Louisiana will follow his schedule.
“For the state it’s something to model, and for the country it’s time to turn the page,” Kiser said.
McKnight will continue to train for the competitive season in January and hopes to someday compete for an SEC school.
“I know I’m going in the right direction and doing the right things,” McKnight said.
Throughout her gymnastics journey, McKnight knows she has the support of not only her family, but her Valor team as well.
“If I feel like I’m stressed out, I talk to a coach and my parents, we say ‘Okay, let’s plan something and make sure you don’t feel overwhelmed,’” McKnight said.
The new wave of focus on mental and physical health in gymnastics could bring a new generation of healthy gymnasts.