CHARLOTTE – Oftentimes a name can say everything one needs to know and that’s certainly the case with Perfect Balance Training Center, an up-and-coming gymnastics hub.
While other gyms in the area focus mostly on the results on the mat, Perfect Balance, located at 8850 Monroe Road, strives to keep its gymnasts in top shape in the sport, but also engaged heavily in the classroom and personal lives.
That approach is what separates Perfect Balance athletes from other gymnasts in the area, according to Providence High School senior Allie Stern.
“Our coaches let us live a very balanced life,” she said. “We all go to school where other kids from other gyms are often homeschooled and focus solely on their gymnastics. We have the balance and the success, so that makes it really fun.
“It’s great to see the coaches’ work and our work come together and pay off for both of us. You can tell by how excited they get for even the littlest of things that we do well. They treat us in a way that make us want to come back every day. They’re really encouraging and have taught us so many life lessons through gymnastics and through everyday life.”
And recently the coaches have had a lot to be proud of.
Perfect Balance has six Level 10 gymnasts – the highest level attainable – and together they are helping put the gym on the map.
Stern is the headliner. She has been a Level 10 for two years. Last year, after making her way through the state and regional competitions, Stern became a national champion on the vault. That opened up her recruiting process and gave her a larger leadership role at the gym, all of which eventually led to her signing a full scholarship with the University of Oklahoma, the No.1-ranked girls gymnastics program.
“It’s really rewarding to know that I’ve already found my future home, but I need to keep working because I definitely want to succeed at Oklahoma,” Stern said. “Not only that, but I need to keep working hard here every day. My teammates make it easy because they are so supportive of me.”
Stern has been nursing a calf injury all season long, according to Perfect Balance Owner Suzie Sanocki.
“The only thing that was going to make her calf any better was going to be rest, but Allie is one of those people who isn’t going to slow down,” Sanocki said. “It is just now getting better, and the state meet was really the first time she’s been healthy all year.”
Stern still was one of the state’s top female gymnasts and led the Perfect Balance Level 10s at the N.C. Level 6-10 State Meet, which concluded March 18 at Rose’s Gymnastics Training Center in Greenville.
She placed first in the floor and the vault and second on the bars and the beam to take second in the all-around competition in Session 12. That performance set the example for her younger teammates, who Stern knows are watching her every move as she navigates her way through the individual competitions and college recruitment process.
“I know they’re watching and I want them to see the never-give-up attitude I think I’ve been able to develop,” she said. “It’s been really hard at times and I’m sure we’ve all had enough and wanted to quit at one point or another, but we’ve all hung in there. I’ve reached the top, and I hope that gives them even more encouragement to stay with the sport and to know that anything can happen if you work hard for it.”
But Stern isn’t the only shining star at Perfect Balance. High school sophomores Hannah Ruthberg, Ana Kenefick, Sara Kenefick and freshmen Rachel Katz and Nyla Smith are all Level 10 gymnasts making their own way.
Ruthberg moved to the area in the past year from Wisconsin where she qualified for nationals as a Level 9 gymnast two years ago. She has now been a Level 10 gymnast for about two years and is enjoying her time while making a name for herself.
“For me, coming to see my teammates everyday is a very big motivator because I love these girls with all of my heart and I get to come and be with them for 20-plus hours a week,” said Ruthberg, a sophomore at Marvin Ridge. “Being at this gym has turned my world upside down and I’m so happy that I’m here. It’s helped me balance school and is making me a better gymnast at the same time.”
Ruthberg tied for second on the vault and tied for fourth on the floor en route to a fifth-place finish at the state meet.
Twin sisters Ana and Sara Kenefick are sophomores at Charlotte Latin. They have been Level 10 gymnasts for two years. They say Perfect Balance is helping them become better gymnasts, competitors and well-rounded individuals.
“We put in a lot of work here together, so the most rewarding thing is when we win as a team and we get to stand up on the podium together,” Ana Kenefick said.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to have these girls who support me and are there with me on the good days and on the bad days,” Sara Kenefick added. “I think we come in here every day and keep our focus on our goals is what is driving us to make regionals and ultimately states. I think it all happens in the gym. You know when you work hard and you trust your training at the big meets and that’s when it all pays off.”
Ana Kenefick tied for third on the beam and tied for sixth all-around at the state meet. Sara Kenefick tied for second on the floor and took ninth overall.
The Kenefick twins and Ruthberg are being heavily recruited while the process hasn’t yet begun for the two freshmen.
“With Allie, I have the top four who are being recruited,” Sanocki said. “Those girls have offers and are going through the recruiting process and sort of deciding where to go. It’s a little early for the freshmen, but they have the talent.”
Katz, a freshman at Providence High School, was second on the vault, sixth on the floor and fifth in the all-around of her division, all of which are career bests for Katz at Level 10, which she just started this year.
“Seeing the older kids push through and doing their events even when they have injuries or whatever helps us keep going and stay motivated,” Katz said. “It’s also easy because we had so much energy at the last meet and it was so much fun to be there and to compete. I’ve never had such a positive team experience like that. It made it really fun.”
Smith, a freshman at CATA, is in her first year as a Level 10 gymnast and is the newcomer to the group.
She took fourth on the floor and vault at the state meet, where she placed seventh in the all-around competition, giving Perfect Balance another hopeful to qualify for the regional and state meets, which are coming in the next month.
“They all have a shot at making nationals,” Sanocki said. “But some of them are young and just starting in Level 10, so it it may be tougher for them, but I expect the older girls will make it. Allie has already been there and won last year in her first year as a Level 10, so you never know what’s going to happen.
“But that’s the thing with these six is that they all do it together and they really encourage each other. They may be as tight as any group as I have ever had. They do literally everything together.”
And they couldn’t be more happy than they are competing together.
“I look up to the older girls,” Smith said. “I see them succeeding and getting better and I use that as motivation to push through and keep going. It’s rewarding to have them pushing me.”
Stern said she is relishing her role as a leader for the group that is turning heads in the state’s gymnastics scene.
“We used to be the little girls who looked up to the big girls, but now we’re the big girls who the little ones are looking up to,” she said. “It’s very rewarding, but it’s something we take a lot of pride in. We all have leadership qualities that gymnastics teaches you and it’s something we’ll certainly carry with us the rest of this year, but also something we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.”
Super Summer Fun Camp
• June 4-8: Summer Blast Off
• June 11-15: Ninja Warrior
• June 18-22: Under the Big Top
• June 25-29: Animal Craziness
• July 2-6: Kids of America
• July 9-13: Ninja Warrior
• July 16-20: Charlotte Spirit
• July 23-27: Ninja Warrior
• July 30-Aug. 2: Catch the Wave
• Aug. 6-10: Olympics
• Aug. 13-17: Heroes/superstars
Girls Gymnastics Camp
• Week 1 (June 18-21)
• Week 2 (July 16-19)
• Week 3 (Aug. 6-9)
Summer Preschool Camp
• Week 1 (June 4-6)
• Week 2 (June 18-20)
• Week 3 (June 25-27)
• Week 4 (July 16-18)
• Week 5 (July 30-Aug. 1)
• Week 6 (Aug. 13-15)
Perfect Balance is located at 8850 Monroe Road, Charlotte. Visit www.perfectbalancecharlotte.com or call 980-299-8445 for details.