Where customers flip: Couple continues legacy of gymnastics training

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Brian and Kerri Bensley operate Legacy Gymnastics and Ninja Academy in Grand Junction, offering instruction in gymnastics as well as dance, obstacle courses and tumbling. The Bensleys relocated the 35-year-old operation into a building on River Road to create what they say is one of the largest and best-equipped facilities of its kind in Colorado. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Brian Bensley’s new office comes with a view of the expansive interior of his Grand Junction business. Through a large window, Bensley can see the array of apparatus carefully arranged below — the bars, the balance beams and mats in various shapes and sizes.

It’s the fourth location for the 35-year-old gymnastics academy and largest and best-equipped, Bensley says. “I don’t think there’s a gym set up in the state any better than this.”

It’s an ideal place, he says, to carry on a legacy of instilling in youth confidence, discipline and teamwork — while in the process having fun. It’s also a place to carry on a family legacy of serving the community. That’s why the new location for the business comes with a new name.

Brian and Kerri Bensley opened Legacy Gymnastics and Ninja Academy in December in a building on River Road that formerly housed Allen Unique Autos, a combination museum and events center.

The couple had been looking for a new location after selling the building housing KidzPlex, a facility they operated for two decades.

Faced with the prospect of expensive renovations, the couple sold KidzPlex to Mesa County School District 51 to house Mesa Valley Community School.

Brian Bensley says the couple considered constructing a new building, but the cost became prohibitive. The couple also considering retiring. They decided to purchase the former Allen Unique Autos building and continue a legacy of gymnastics instruction.

Brian and his father, Harlan, started the operation in 1985 and moved to a larger location along the Interstate 70 Business Loop. A coach and pioneer of gymnastics training for girls, Harlan was inducted into the Colorado Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Kerri Bensley joined the business in 1992.

At 38,000 square feet — 16,000 square feet for gymnastics — the latest location is the largest of four for the business. The facility is also equipped with new and advanced equipment, Brian Bensley says.

In addition to gymnastics, the business also offers obstacle courses and training based on “American Ninja Warrior,” a televised sports competition.

Enrollment in the various classes and programs offered at Legacy Gymnastics and Ninja Academy has grown to record levels, Bensley says. But there’s room for growth. He expects even more interest in gymnastics training as a result of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. “The more kids see it, the more they want to do it.”

The facility offers gymnastics instruction for students of all ages and abilities, from beginners to competitive athletes. The operation has fielded state championship teams or individuals every year since 1986.

Gymnastics instruction isn’t just about winning, though, Bensley says. The instruction is also about learning confidence, discipline, motivation and teamwork. It’s about facing what can be frightening challenges and overcoming them. “What we learn in gymnastics has helped us in life.”

At the same time, the process should be enjoyable for students, he says. “They should love it.”

Former students appreciate what they learned, he says, because they bring their own children back for the same experiences.

Bensley says the move into a larger and better-equipped facility comes with risks, but he also expects rewards in continuing to improve the instruction and programs offered there and to run the business in a professional manner.

There’s a chance his own children will want to take over the operation at some point, Bensley says. And that would mean continuing a legacy in yet another way.

Legacy Gymnastics and Ninja Academy is located at 2285 River Road. For more information, visit www.legacygymnasticsninja.com or call 245-3610.