Fitting it all in – Competitive Gymnastics Option at Gym Star for the “everything” kid

The “Balance” of Interests

soccerOur kids have the opportunity to participate in some amazing programs at school, in local clubs, and with our churches. They can choose from any sport, dance, drama, music – you name it! As parents, we try to help our children balance the requirements of school with the enrichment opportunities they have available while also making sure that we are able to manage it all. Some kids know early on that their love is soccer or ballet, but others love the variety of seasonal sports and school clubs. Here is an idea for those who love seasonal sports but also love consistent training and conditioning while being able to try out for the school play – Gym Star’s Recreation Optional Team! It is the best part of competitive gymnastics with the flexibility to allow kids the chance to participate in other activities.

What is Competitive Gymnastics?

usa-gymnasticsWe are all quite familiar with the Olympic level gymnastics competitions we see on television, but what are the competitive options for our gymnasts in Whatcom County? Most of the gymnastics gyms in the area that offer a team option are members of the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics (JO) program which is a national program of competition and dedication. Gym Star Sports Center is a member of USA Gymnastics and manages JO teams at all levels who follow the USA Gymnastics program. Gym Star is also the only gym is our area that offers the Recreation Optional Team (Rec Opt) program. The Rec Opt Team’s mission is to provide gymnasts the opportunity to strive to achieve their maximum potential while allowing time to balance other interests.

Competition and Commitment 

rec-opt-teamsThe coaches for the Rec Opt team are of the highest caliber with total commitment to their gymnasts. The Rec Opt teams practice 2 days a week for 2 1/2 hours a day. They have 6 competition opportunities a year with other gyms in the Seattle area. The meets are well run and provide an excellent environment for the students to compete and be part of a team. The scoring provides real feedback which helps to set goals for the next meet.

Check us out!

cropped-gymstarlogo.pngGym Star will be hosting an open competition on December 3rd at Gym Star for both the JO and Rec Opt teams. The public will be able to see first hand what a competition looks like and see how great our girls are! There are two meet sessions beginning at 9am. Call the gym for more information (360) 384-3861, or email See you in the Gym!


Rainy weather blues turn to exercise fun!

As the rainy and cooler weather arrives in the Pacific Northwest, and the days get darker earlier, what is a mother to do with her still active and energetic kids? Bring them to the gym of course!

Daylight wanes, but the gym is always bright and dry 

kids-on-sofaThe changing of the seasons is one of the greatest reasons to live in this beautiful part of the country. The waning days herald the coming of the holidays and hopefully some snow, but they also mean that kids are going to be holed up inside – with Mom – a lot more. We all love our children, and we understand the need for them to run and jump and play, but the afternoons can be long in a house altogether…

The benefits of exercise for children

20160816_171049This may be obvious, but the benefits of exercise for children are numerous. Here are some top thoughts to keep in mind. Children who are active:

  1. have stronger muscles and bones.
  2. have a leaner body because exercise helps control body fat.
  3. be less likely to become overweight.
  4. decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  5. lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
  6. have a better outlook on life.

It is so important to begin talking about and modeling a healthy lifestyle with your children and for your children as early as possible. Kids are always paying attention – even when you think they are not!

Gym Star Sports Center is a welcoming place to spend the afternoon

kids-at-the-gymThe coaches at Gym Star Sports Center take their cue from owner Carolyn Saletto and provide a safe and fun learning environment for the kids. Whether your child is just starting in Kinder Gym or is spending 5 days a week on the Junior Olympic team, they will be a part of a supportive and physically challenging community. So take a look at the classes offered including gymnastics, hip hop, parkour, ballet, and even Barre Above (Moms need some exercise too!) Don’t let the cooler, rainy weather get you down this year – come to the Gym and have some fun!


Making the Most of Your Exercise Hour

Making the Most of Your Exercise Hour

busy-momWe are all busy Moms. We make breakfast, carpool to school, do laundry, shop for groceries, clean house, and drive the family taxi – and many of us work outside the home too! While we are always thinking about the health and happiness of our family, we also need to think about our health and happiness. We need to be good examples to our children of prioritizing good health habits. Let’s start with an easy one – exercise.

20160825_165739Gym Star Makes Exercise Easy

If you have children, you likely are already finding yourself at Gym Star Sports Center for any number of wonderful programs from gymnastics to parkour and ballet. Did you know that Gym Star now offers adult exercise classes four days a week with a variety of times to fit your schedule and even offers child care for morning classes? Discover the wonder that is Barre Above at Gym Star!


What is Barre Above?

Barre Above is an hour of exercise that draws on pilates, yoga, ballet and strength training. The exercises are designed to work using your own resistance and building core strength. The workouts are fun and upbeat with choreography that can be tailored to the needs of those in the class. Carolyn is always introducing new routines and combinations that keep the class fresh. You will see results in your actual physical shape as you develop consistency in your workout!

barre-aboveCome and Give Barre Above a Try!

Gym Star Barre Above does not require any type of membership, and the first class is always free! Classes are offered Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:45 – 10:45 am; Wednesdays from 4:15 – 5:15 pm and Fridays 4:00 – 5:00 pm. Child care is available for morning classes, or come and workout in the afternoons while your child is in their own gymnastics class! Visit for more information or call the gym at 360-384-3861.


Why Study Dance?

Many young girls dream of becoming ballerinas, but very few actually make it to the ranks of world class ballet companies. There are many examples of well known people who studied dance and were able to use those skills and training later in life. So what are some of the things that ballet training help with that will be useful in the future, and who are some of those famous people you might recognize?


Ballet dancers are easily spotted in a crowd because of the way they hold their heads and the way they move when they walk.  They seem to be gliding across the floor as they move through a room.


The structure of a ballet class always includes “floor exercises”. These combinations of steps are completed in the middle of the floor as a group, but each student is seen and corrected by the teacher. There is always a section of the class that has the students practicing the combinations individually. These “mini performances” help to develop confidence and stage presence.


Ballet dancers develop a keen sense of coordination and mental skills as each set of technical skills is done on the right side and the left side. While most dancers favor one side over the other, every dancer must learn all of the steps using both sides. The mental and physical result is increased coordination and symmetry.

People you may recognize

So how do these skills help in life? Just ask these celebrities who once dreamed of being a ballerina!

audrey-hepburnAudrey Hepburn studied ballet under one of the leading figures of Dutch ballet. She put those skills to use in the film Secret People.





amy-adamsAmy Adams apprenticed with a local ballet company before she made it big as a actress with some lovely dancing in Enchanted!





zoe-saldanaZoe Saldana studied at the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy in the Dominican Republic before she embarked on a career in acting with the break out movie Center Stage.

Building Ballerinas One Step at a Time

Who is a ballerina?

A ballerina is someone who dances ballet. Gym Star Dance will open the world of ballet and dance to its students teaching them the language of movement. The body learns the most basic elements first – ballet steps are the words. The basic steps build on each other and become combinations – like sentences. The combinations become more complex and complicated – just as our sentences become more complex as we grow and learn.

Steps Become Choreography

At Gym Star Dance, our students begin with the same basic steps as all ballet dancers do – plies, tendus and releves. The dancers in this video are from Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.  They are doing the same steps that we teach our students, but they have several more years of practice under their belts!

Choreography Becomes a Performance!

We will begin the year learning the steps which will quickly build to combinations that becomes choreography for our first performance! Our students will begin preparing for the winter production of “Polar Express” at the same time they are building their knowledge of ballet. They will be able to see how the steps they learn are directly used in the creation of choreography that makes a performance.

So join us at Gym Star Dance this September, and put December 10th on  your calendar for “Polar Express”!

Gym Star Dance Announces New Season and Winter Performance

Gym Star Dance logo2015

Gym Star Dance, a program of Gym Star Sports Center in Ferndale, WA, announces its first full season of ballet and hip hop programming highlighted by a winter performance of “Polar Express”.  Gym Star Dance classes for 2016-2017 include pre-ballet, ballet and hip hop for students ages 4 – 18 years old.  The first session of classes will culminate in a school wide performance of an original production of “Polar Express” at the Heiner Theater located on the Whatcom Community College campus December 10, 2016. Registration for classes is open now.  Classes begin Tuesday, September 6th! Contact Gym Star at 360-384-3861 or online at for more information.

“It has always been my dream…”

Hovanderbmann2014Gym Star Dance has been a lifelong dream for Carolyn Saletto who began her teaching career in the GymBus.  The GymBus transitioned into Gym Star Sports Center in 2005, and Gym Star Dance was added in 2016.  The dedicated dance studio includes a Marley dance floor, a wall of mirrors and ballet barres that are adjustable for even the smallest dancer.

“Gym Star Dance combines high quality dance instruction with the Gym Star Sports Center’s practice of supporting healthy, active children.  Our instructors have many years of experience in both training and performance and enjoy sharing their knowledge and love of dance with their students,” said Carolyn Saletto, Gym Star Sports Center owner.

Quality instruction and happy students!

Ballet Instructor Lee Van Wagnor Ballet instructors Lee Ann Wagoner and Laura McKinney are both classically trained with many performance credits between them. Lee began her studies in Nova Scotia, followed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Real Academia De Ballet in Mexico and the Halifax Ballet Theatre.  She moved to Vancouver to dance with Arts Umbrella Dance Company.  Lee recently relocated to Ferndale and has been teaching ballet with Gym Star Dance since its inception.  

Ballet Instructor Laura McKinneyLaura’s ballet career began in Columbia, South Carolina, with Columbia City Ballet and Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet.  She studied intensively at the North Carolina School of the Arts and Boston Ballet before career and life took her around the world. Laura moved to Blaine with her husband and children two years ago and is thrilled to expose new students to the beauty and challenge of ballet.

Hip hop dance instructor James KimGym Star Dance also includes classes in hip hop taught by Washington native James Kim, James began break dancing as a young boy inspired by movies such as “You Got Served” and “Honey”.  James joined a hip hop dance team in high school that went on to win the state dance competition in 2010 and 2011 and won the national dance competition in 2010 and 2012.  As a new addition to Gym Star Dance, James has just two rules: have fun and stay positive!


Classes begin Tuesday, September 6th! Contact Gym Star at 360-384-3861 or online at for more information.

Choosing your Gym Star Dance class

Gym Star Dance Overview

Gym Star Dance offers creative movement, classical ballet and hip hop classes for ages ranging from 4 years to 18 years old. Classes are offered in 2 sessions. Session 1 begins September 6th and ends December 9th with a winter performance of “Polar Express” on December 10th.  Session 2 will begin after the New Year and end with a performance in late May/early June.

Class Descriptions

GymStarPreschoolDance-7Ballet-Gymnastics Combo (ages 4-6 yrs old): this class will introduce ballet fundamentals while still engaging active young children in exercise and fun. Half of the class will be spent in the dance room, and the other half will be spent on the gymnastics floor. A great opportunity for little ones who aspire to be a ballerina and an Olympic gymnast!

beginner balletBeginner Ballet (ages 5-7 yrs old): ballet fundamentals and classical music will be introduced. Creative movement and “original choreography” will be explored as the young dancers practice controlled movements.

Beginner Ballet (ages 8-10 yrs old): for the older beginner with more motor skills and control.  This class will focus on the progression of ballet fundamentals and introduce the concept of choreography and expression.

first-ballet-class-article-1Intermediate Ballet (admission by instruction): this class is for older beginners and dancers with some ballet experience. The pace will be faster with more ballet elements introduced. The goal of this class is to move the students closer towards readiness for pointe work.

hiphop3Beginner Hip Hop (ages 6-8 yrs old): fun, energetic, age appropriate movement to contemporary dance music.

Intermediate Hip Hop (ages 9-12 yrs old): also fun and energetic with longer combinations.

Hip Hop (ages 13-18 yrs old): come and learn competition level hip hop moves!

Come Dance With Us!

Gym Star Dance Begins A New Year!

Gym Star Dance is beginning its first full season as part of Gym Star Sports Center and looking forward to a great year!  Gym Star Dance offers ballet-gymnastics combo, beginner ballet, intermediate ballet and hip hop classes.  We will finish our first session in December with a winter performance, “Polar Express”, at the Whatcom Community College theater. So sign up today, and Come Dance With Us!

Plies, tendus, and pirouettes – oh my!

Ballet classes at Gym Star Dance range from ballet-gymnastics combo for our youngest dancers (ages 4-6) to intermediate ballet for dancers with some ballet experience or older beginners (ages 10-16).  Our ballet instructors, Lee Van Wagnor and Laura McKinney, have many years of training and performance experience and will tailor the class based on the ages and skills of the students.  Our winter and end of year performances are a great opportunity to introduce the students to performance with choreography, costumes, music and of course an audience!

Hip Hop – for fun and great exercise!

James Kim brings a new, fresh approach to Hip Hop at Gym Star. Hip hop dance is made up of contemporary dance moves and combinations choreographed to pop music.  Hip hop teams are also popular in high schools as a form of competitive dance. It is a good workout that feels good!

Music is food for the soul

One of the most beneficial aspects of dance is the incorporation of movement to music.  Feeling the beat of the music – whether classical or contemporary – leads to better coordination.  Learning to count notes and measures of the music when learning choreography is great brain exercise.  And just the exposure to classical music through the study of ballet broadens music appreciation and introduces the concept of musical complexity. So whether you have the grace of a butterfly or two left feet, the exposure to and the appreciation of music is an added bonus to the study of dance.