Eagles Gymnastics Springs Forward After Pandemic Setbacks

It’s been said that good fortune favors the prepared. If you need an example, consider the homegrown business Kim Fuchs has carefully planned and guided through nearly four decades. The Martin City entrepreneur is a master of rolling with the punches and sharpening strategies. Even the Coronavirus is no match for her experience.

Eagles Gymnastics is my life, and I’m going to fight for it no matter what I’m up against,” says Fuchs, flipping on the lights inside her massive, wide-open facility just off 135th Street and Wyandotte near MC CrossFit. “You just have to keep going, adjusting, and keeping an eye out for what’s coming.”

What came in the early days of the pandemic is what so many other businesses faced; lockdowns, isolation and a disconnection from ‘normal’ life. Every hard-hit business struggled, but try getting through all that as the owner of a high-profile gymnastics facility known for meeting high expectations. Enrollment tumbled at Eagles Gymnastics and the business even had to close for a couple of months, but the darkest stretch of the pandemic was no match for Fuchs’ defining determination and optimism.

“Zooming gymnastics classes is very difficult, but not impossible. I’m just glad that part didn’t last long. Gymnastics is physically demanding, both for students and coaches. Doing it remotely through cameras is one of the hardest things we’ve ever been through. But, here we are on the other side, maybe even better than before.”

Kim Fuchs, founder and owner of Eagles Gymnastics in Martin City.

Throughout 2020, Eagles Gymnastics slowly clawed its way back toward something resembling normalcy. The winter leading into 2021 brought more ups and downs, but by the time spring turned into summer, Eagles was suddenly soaring again, and to new heights.

“Summer is usually our slowest time of the year, but this year was very, very different. It’s been the best part of 2021 so far. Fall enrollment is way up too. We have waiting lists for several classes for the first time in years. This is quite a moment for my business.”

Eagles Gymnastics in Martin City

Stretching Out and Perfecting Performance.

Maybe it has something to do with good timing or just good luck. Excitement around the Summer Olympics helped too, especially considering Fuchs’ former students include medal-winning Olympians. But Eagles Gymnastics is finding its footing these days mainly by spreading its wings rather than hunkering down and allowing itself to be paralyzed by fear. Fuchs is squarely focused on promoting her core business, emphasizing the broad, physical and mental health benefits of gymnastics at a time when families have grown tired of stagnating at home on the sidelines. 

“What we offer here is exactly what so many families want right now. We’ve always been popular since our opening in 1983, but now I think there’s a new perspective on our value. Everything we’re about matters, from the way we teach kids healthy habits and boost their esteem to the social and organizational skills they learn, and the self-discipline. After everything we’ve all been through with this pandemic, a gymnastics experience at an established gym like ours takes on a whole new meaning.”

A healthy mental and physical workout at Eagles Gymnastics.

Eagles Gymnastics in Martin City

Eagles Gymnastics in Martin City

Eagles Gymnastics in Martin City

Fuchs’ highly-competitive gymnastics team of about 100 kids continues to drive the sterling reputation of her business, and recreational classes are now swelling too. Dance classes are still drawing younger kids, and this year’s summer camp season was one for the record books at 209 West 135th Street.

“You just never know,” says Fuchs, speaking with us while guiding a couple of her top competitive performers on the mat. “Last year I struggled just to keep my summer camps open because of the pandemic. Summer camps are usually a challenge anyway because kids do other things like swimming, soccer and baseball. But this year our summer camps were bigger than ever. On some days they were twice as big as expected.”

As an entrepreneur who has adjusted to a lot of change over the years, Fuchs is always open to new ideas and welcomes the creativity that brings them to life. Gymnastics itself is quite a draw at her summer camps, but the camps are also shaped to appeal to parents needing daycare and browsing for a well-rounded experience. Camp hours are generally matched to working parent schedules and activities expand to include things like crafts, movie showings, and even a waterslide.

The large, sloping front lawn is just right for a one-of-a-kind waterslide in Martin City.

A staff of approximately 25 employees keeps the creative juices flowing at Eagles Gymnastics. Fuchs works closely with her leadership team of three directors to shape and modify strategies for keeping the business responsive to the needs of its customers.

“These days I typically don’t make too many decisions until I discuss them with my directors. I really trust them. You have to hire people you get to know and can trust. You can’t do it all yourself. With their help, this place really runs itself day-to-day at this point.”

Fuchs is hands on from teaching to managing, and relies on a hand-picked support staff.

Even during the early months of the pandemic when Eagles Gymnastics was closed, Fuchs kept key managers fully paid. She wasn’t used to all the downtime back then, so she spent it reevaluating her business and finding ways to better coordinate operations.

“I realized my class schedules had sort of gotten away from me, so when I started rescheduling classes as enrollment picked back up, I was very focused on efficiency. I found opportunities to balance class times and resources better. I’m still working within those parameters now and everything has tightened up. We’re in a stronger position.”

Smarter coordination of classes also means smarter use of utilities, which is no small advantage for this business. The Eagles Gymnastics facility spreads out across 18,000 square feet, so you can imagine the cost-savings potential of using lights, air conditioning and heating more efficiently. It’s that kind of attention to every corner of a business that tells you the owner knows what she’s doing.

“I think I have a good business plan and that’s the main reason I’ve survived this pandemic era. But I’ve also refined the way I do things to prepare my business for more rough times ahead. It’s about being ready to take full advantage of the good times, too.”

Lighting, heating and cooling efficiency across a huge facility is a valuable opportunity.

A Word-of-Mouth Message That Resonates.

As the pandemic era begins to feel more like a way of life than a momentary crisis, Fuchs is staying one step ahead of public safety measures and adjusting gym activity accordingly. She’s drawing the praise of families from Leawood to Grandview who expect her to keep the health of her students paramount. They know they can trust her because Fuchs has always been a champion of building good health through gymnastics. Listen to her for a few minutes, and you’ll become a believer.

“I would say gymnastics is the best physical activity you can get your child involved in first. It develops their bodies for anything else they want to do later. We have a lot of kids that come through here and go on to be strong athletes in all kinds of other sports like soccer and baseball. Many do those sports and gymnastics at the same time. It builds strength, flexibility, teamwork, and so much more. And little ones learn how to work within groups, like standing in line waiting their turn. All those things you have to learn before preschool, you’re learning right here in gymnastics. There are so many life skills seeded here too, like how to be accountable and confident, and how to persevere. You will build on what you learn here as you grow up.”

And after students grow up, many return to Eagles Gymnastics to enroll their own kids and pass along the tradition. “It happens over and over again,” says Fuchs, with the smile that’s greeted so many students through the years. “I’ve taught multiple generations within families and I consider it a very high honor.”

Fuchs continues to take care of her Martin City community too, pointing hundreds of families toward local businesses every week and making her neighbors a personal priority. Martin City Animal Hospital has been looking after her pets for years. She only gets her flowers from Sidelines Custom Floral and you can bet that when it comes to a staff outing, restaurants like Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse and Martin City Brewing Company are high on the list.

“I’ve always tried to do the right thing for my students and my community,” says Fuchs. “I think it’s the foundation of everything I’ve achieved.”

Thanks Kim, for investing in Martin City. We’re grateful for your decision way back when to nest Eagles Gymnastics in our neighborhood, and we’re excited about our future together as Martin City’s renaissance rises.

Eagles Gymnastics

209 W 135th Street, Kansas City, MO 64145