Knowing it’s the Godly way or the highway at Heidi’s Musical Gymnastics, 13 girls ages 7 to 10 have followed basic Christian principles while maintaining a special dedication to competitive success.
It paid off last month.
Among at least a dozen statewide competitors, this Farragut gymnastics hub (159 West End Ave.) combined the girls’ skills to win a team state championship in the Bronze Division of the USA Gymnastics Excel Program in Clarksville April 2.
Moreover, “We’ve been in the top 100 throughout this year out of all the gyms in the United States … in the Bronze Division,” said Heidi De La Rocha, co-owner (with husband, Ashley De La Rocha) and chief instructor, with her team having finished third statewide in 2022 and fifth in 2021. “It’s amazing.”
For all of this program’s statewide and national success, however, De La Rocha wants one thing made clear: “first and foremost, our program is the foundation of Jesus,” she said about her family -run business. “All my principles, my teachings, my ideas are based on God.”
Though a given young gymnast may be quite talented, “If I have somebody whose behavior does not fit Godly principles, then they should not be on this team,” De La Rocha said, emphasizing non-Christians also are welcome to join Heidi’s Gymnastics.
However, “If they don’t want to hear about Jesus it’s probably not going to be a good fit for them,” she added. “… We pray; and before we start a practice sometimes I will talk about Christian values and principles and morals.
“I give all the glory to God.”
“We did an Excel program, and that program is a very competitive program — but it’s also very fun,” said De La Rocha, a youth gymnastics coach/teacher for more than 30 years. “I create the routines, I do all the choreography; we highlight areas where (each gymnast) is strong at. … With the Excel program, I can pick whatever skills they are good at to show their strengths.
“We’ve been going against gyms that are big, you know like massive, that have all the equipment,” she added.
Limited to roughly 2,000 square feet of operational space at Heidi’s, “We have to move up and down our equipment all of the time,” said De La Rocha, who also gives private lessons. “But we have everything we need” while also raising the ceiling and “taking out a storage room” to add more floor space.
“And we work really, really hard,” she added. “It takes a certain person to want to be challenged” at the competitive level. Performing in front of an audience “takes a lot of courage and a lot of strength.”
Individually, “I had two girls who got perfect 10s on balance beam,” De La Rocha said about Lily Ostrowski, 9, the All-Around state champion in her age group, and Clara Johnson, 8. “And beam is not easy.”
A former college gymnast at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, De La Rocha started Heidi’s Musical Gymnastics in June 1999.
With her family having moved from California to Farragut in 1995, “We only started our competition program four years ago,” she said. “We had been doing recreation classes.”
Having moved from another location to West End Avenue in 2001, Heidi’s Gymnastics roughly doubled its square footage space with a move a few doors down to its current location “about 12 years ago.”
All instruction is led by De La Rocha and her daughter, Savannah De La Rocha. “My husband does the business end,” the co-owner said.
By the numbers
With 16 total competitive team members up to age 12, “My three other girls, they competed in Silver Division,” De La Rocha said.
Individually, Raleigh Henry finished 28th among 157 Silver Division competitors, “which was amazing,” De La Rocha said. “Her work ethic is impeccable. This was her first year in Silver.”
Meanwhile, Heidi’s remains a recreational gymnastics location for about 135 other young, local gymnasts “from 18 months (old) all the way up to 12 or 13,” De La Rocha said.
Over the history of her gym, De La Rocha said she’s trained well more than 1,000 mostly young girls, both competitive and recreational. “I have one mom (whom) I used to teach when she was 5 years old, and now she brings her kids to me,” the owner added.
Visit the gym’s website at heidismusicalgym.com or call 865-409-8356.