Bending Over Backwards for COVID Safety


Delaney Gauthier

Instructor Shannon Suddeth helps a student learn a skill during a gymnastics class.

Delaney Gauthier, Staff Writer

This pandemic has forced people everywhere to be more flexible. Stoughton Gymnastics is just one of those businesses trying to keep the community active while staying safe. Classes offer basic training and gymnastic skills to kids of all ages. However, running a gymnastics business during a global pandemic can be tricky. Here are some ways the students and employees of Stoughton Gymnastics have been mindful of safety while maintaining fitness. 

SHS freshman Ethan Soderbloom began working at Stoughton Gymnastics about four months ago. 

“I actually got the job while COVID was happening, but I used to attend there, up until fourth grade. I really like working there,” Soderbloom says. 

Soderbloom teaches a ninja class – similar in practice to “American Ninja Warrior” – to younger students. 

“It’s more about keeping them active than just teaching them lots of skills, because that’s more of a gymnastics class. We have lots of equipment and floor space we can use. We do more obstacle course-type things with our younger classes,” Soderbloom says. 

Junior Abby Groleau has been working at Stoughton Gymnastics for two years and also teaches a ninja class, this one for older students. 

“They don’t need to have a gymnastics background. I help them with any skills they need. I teach a lot of basic skills – a lot of how to maneuver so you don’t get hurt, how to do it right,” Groleau says.

However, working gymnastics during a pandemic isn’t all fun and games. According to owner Jessica Kohlhoff, class sizes have shrunk, students remain in tight-knit groups, masks are worn at all times, class times are staggered, hand sanitizer is used every ten minutes, and the whole gym is sanitized vigorously. On top of that, families are encouraged to drop off and pick up their students. 

Kohlhoff notes the ease of the transition to wearing masks in class. 

“It’s required for anyone ages five and older, but even when we had four-year-olds in the gym, I would say at least 50% of the parents chose to have their kids wear masks. All of the younger students have probably done better than basically all of the adults in society as far as getting used to it. If anyone asks ‘How do these kids do gymnastics wearing masks?’ I just reply, ‘it’s really a non-issue.’ They really don’t care,” Kohlhoff adds.

It looks like all their hard work is paying off – there have been no instances of cases being spread between students or workers at Stoughton Gymnastics, and Kohlhoff says the staff is very happy with how things are going. 

“Some things have changed, but we were lucky to stay open,” Groleau says. 

A student practices cartwheels at Stoughton Gymnastics. (Delaney Gauthier)