Julie Wales

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Julie Wales is the owner of So Fun Gymnastics in Woolgoolga. She has been operating the centre for the past 14 years and is one of Woolgoolga’s  favourite locals. Focus caught up with Julie to find out about the classes she offers, as well as her future plans.

What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?

My husband, Tony, and I moved here 28 years ago from Sydney. We became really close to the Woolgoolga community through playing soccer and touch footy. We both played and volunteered on the committees and coached with Woolgoolga and Corindi Soccer Clubs.

Can you tell us what it is you do?

I am the owner of So Fun Gymnastics. We have been operating in the Northern Beaches for 14 years this year. I look after all operations of the business. My main role is to plan lessons and coach students from beginners to competition levels.

I also help out with regional gymnastics. As the Regional Supervisor for the Far North Coast, I help organise regional competitions. I love seeing our regional grow, and we are a close community who are all passionate about seeing the kids develop in this sport.

What drew you to gymnastics?

When I was in Year 5 at Matraville Soldiers Settlement School, my  school teacher, Kim Morris, was also a gymnastics coach. I just loved it from my first lesson. Kim was an amazing person who had a big impact on inspiring me to be the best I could be. Winning wasn’t everything – just to work hard and achieve the best I could.

I’ve had other jobs, teachers aiding at Woolgoolga High, activities at Darlington Park, cleaning and retail. I seem to always be drawn back to teaching gymnastics.

At Woolgoolga High, I loved to get a group of students together, and they would perform at the concert of excellence or compete at the CHS competitions.

How long have you been in the industry?

I started coaching when I was 12. Even with my other jobs, I have stayed connected to gymnastics in one way or another.

Gymnastics has been in my life for 40 years.

So Fun Gymnastics has been operating for 14 years.

What do you love most about what you do?

My job rewards me daily – from the smiles of the two year old racing in to show me their new teddy or car, to the excitement of a child learning a new skill and can’t wait to show their parents when they come to pick them up. The sense of accomplishment by a child who was nervous to let go of their parent’s hand first day, to watching them compete on the balance beam in front of hundreds of people in Sydney at a state event. So many moments like these, makes every day a good day.

What have been some of your highlights and achievements?

There are so many highlights, it’s hard to know where to start.

Seeing the benefits gymnastics has had on my own children, Matt and Annie. Both are really confident, strong and fit athletes.

Our club has taken boys and girls to the Country Championships and NSW State Championships for 12 years. Our students have brought home many medals, and it’s awesome when they get places as a team. Our boys’ team came 3rd a few years ago in Level 2.

Performing last year with the Danish National Performance Team was amazing. The students and coaches learnt so much from them.

Tell us about your community involvement.

So Fun Gymnastics employs 12 coaches. Lisa Owen has been coaching with me for 10 years.  Lisa is such a valuable part of everything we do at So Fun. Some of our junior coaches are showing great interest in becoming higher-level coaches by attending courses run by Gymnastics NSW.

We hold competitions three – four times a year at our club. Teams come from Ballina, Armidale, Lismore, and Coffs. We’ve had up to 150 competitors over a weekend.

Our students and coaches put performances together to perform at the local school fetes.  This is a lot of fun, where the kids get to show their skills to their peers and the community.

Tell us about the centre; what services and classes do you offer?

We offer classes for Under 5s Monday – Friday, starting at 9:30am.

On Tuesday at 2pm we have a home school class.

We also have an Inclusions Policy. We encourage any child with a disability to participate.

After school from 3:30pm we have classes for boys and girls beginners through to competition levels.

Birthday parties on Saturdays.

We have just started adults classes.

Also, Acro Skills for dancers.

What age groups do you cater for?

KindyGym is for children from two years – five years.

All ages of boys and girls and now adults. I think our eldest member is 53. 

Plans for the future?

My gym is amazing, and our location is perfect for now. The space we are currently in doesn’t allow for many more classes than what we are operating. A larger shed in a more kid friendly environment would be ideal. It’s busy in an industrial area. Ideally, somewhere on some open land would be great.

With my love and knowledge of many sports, my dream is to operate a multi-sport complex in Woolgoolga – a place where the adults and older kids could play indoor cricket, volleyball, netball, basketball, soccer etc. and the kids could be learning gymnastics.

How do you get involved?

We are more than happy for parents and guardians to bring their children along for a free trial lesson. Visit www.sofungymnastics.com.au for all class information and timetable.

Thanks Julie.

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