Story by Ammie Bryant, Photography by Jefferson Bryant
Twisting, tumbling, and leaping through the air with the grace and ease of a gazelle, the Zone Twisters hone their skills and refine their routines. They have a brand new meet to prepare for at the end of this month. The Inaugural “Stilly” Invitational will welcome hundreds of USAG, Xcel, and TAG athletes during the weekend of January 27 through 29, 2017. Julie Kemmerly, owner of Youth Fitness Zone and the Zone Twisters’ coach, said that hosting a USAG certified meet was a big goal for YFZ’s recent expansion.
Julie and her husband, Adam opened Youth Fitness Zone during the spring of 2004 at their previous location in Fountain Square. They quickly outgrew that space and by 2009 they had moved to the old Carson Athletics building on Territory Lane. This summer, they finished their expansion which provides more space for their recreational and competitive gymnastics and fitness classes as well as a space for gymnastics meets.
Julie plans to make the Stilly Invitational an annual event. She expects several hundred athletes to compete over the course of three days. These athletes range in in ability from TAG which are beginning athletes to Xcel and finally USAG who are more advanced gymnasts. These competitors will travel to Stillwater with their families and friends and when they aren’t competing they’ll be staying in Stillwater hotels, eating in Stillwater restaurants, and hopefully shopping in Stillwater stores. Julie expects this meet to benefit the Stillwater community as it brings families in who might not have traveled to Stillwater before who will be looking for things to see and do during their downtime.
Julie knows these families will enjoy their time in Stillwater, after all she grew up here; it was her appreciation of Stillwater that brought the Kemmerlys back to open a business and raise their family. In September 1986, Julie and Adam were married in Bennett Memorial Chapel on campus. She earned her degree in Speech Pathology and worked in rehabilitation while Adam was a land developer in Edmond. Then they decided to take a leap. Julie said, “We thought, if we could do anything at all what would that be?” The answer was: open a fitness facility. So that’s what they did.
Julie had a background in gymnastics, she grew up with it. She and Adam envisioned a fitness facility specifically for young people. They believe that as children participate in physical activities in a positive environment and become physically fit, their self-confidence increases. For the Kemmerlys, a successful fitness program is one that not only produces measurable improvements in strength, coordination, and flexibility, but also helps develop a inner strength and self-assurance.
With this as their mission, YFZ grew quickly. Soon Adam became a level 2 Crossfit certified trainer and in 2008, Adam branched out to become a Crossfit affiliate. This growth made it clear that they needed to move out of Fountain Square to where they had more space to thrive.
Today, the Adam’s Crossfit Affiliate is housed in a separate building to the east of the newly expanded YFZ facility. Adam runs it while YFZ remains Julie’s domain. Their two daughters are both Xcel team coaches. Jordan, a junior in college, coaches the Gold team while Megan, a senior in high school, coaches Silver.
The YFZ facility is nearly 24,000 square feet and in addition to finally have the space to host a meet, the Kemmerlys are able to expand their class offerings. Ninja Zone is a new class geared towards boys ages 4 to 11 who want to combine gymnastics with martial arts. Fitzone is a fitness class offered for teens and adults. They also have recreational and competitive cheerleading classes and dance classes. Finally, YFZ recently began offering competitive boys gymnastics.
When Julie and Adam decided to pursue their dream of opening a fitness facility they wanted to create a space that could serve as a one stop shop for fitness and we think they are well on their way.