John Mangold became a gymnast when he was five years old.
“I was always a gymnast,” he said, noting that the rings were his favorite activity. “But closer to high school I found myself helping coach other kids rather than doing my own workouts.”
Through high school and in the years after, Mangold continued to coach. So in 2001, when Mangold was able to purchase Twisters Gymnastics from Dennis Johnson who started the organization 30 years ago, he realized a lifelong dream to own his own gym and help other gymnasts achieve their goals.
Today, Twister Gymnastics not only offers classes for children aged 18 months through high school, it also has begun offering dance and cheerleading classes.
Mangold said when he took over the business just over 10 years ago it had about 300 to 400 students. Today, some 920 children are registered for classes.
With the growth of his business, Mangold said he’s seen a shift — especially in the last few years — in his duties as owner.
“At first, I was teaching day and night classes, answering the phones, doing it all. But we’ve brought on good people,” he said.
Mangold now manages a staff of 35 people, most of whom work part time teaching. He spends most of his own time running the business — paying bills, scheduling classes and arranging details of competitions. Each year Twisters hosts three competitions, this spring a state meet at the Eastern Iowa Sports Complex in Hiawatha.
“The benefits for kids are so great,” he added. “And we don’t specify doing a perfect forward roll when you’re four years old. We just want to keep them active and having fun.”