Amplify Gymnastics – Joplin

The plains of southwestern Missouri were a bit of an adjustment for Paul Comstedt, co-owner, gym manager and preschool program director of Amplify Gymnastics.Amplify

Comstedt grew up in Longmont, Colo., a town on the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park. But he wasn’t about to turn down a full scholarship to Ozark Christian College.

“I didn’t think I would stay,” Comstedt says. He did move away for a few years but came back in 2010. “Really, it’s the people I met in Joplin that kept me here. The people, the connections I made, were just great.”

People like his fellow co-owners, who shared a background in and passion for gymnastics. His father had been an artistic gymnast — the Olympic competition kind — and Comstedt had been involved in gymnastics himself for more than 20 years as an athlete and teacher in Colorado, Missouri and China.

three people standing in gym

Co-owners Kip Johnson, Derek Hammeke and Paul Comstedt stand beneath twisted metal tornado debris in their new gym — an inspirational reminder of overcoming adversity.

“We all had the same desire … we wanted to get a gym open and mentor kids.

It just seemed like a natural way to go.” The co-owners also knew the area would support such a business and by April 2011, they had purchased a building and set the grand opening for June.

Then came the tornado.

“We took about a month to decide what we wanted to do,” Comstedt says. “We’d gotten really good deals on land and the buildings, had just taken out all these loans.” The co-owners were insured, he says, but only enough to recoup costs on the almost totally leveled property, not to rebuild.

So when the SBA, SBTDC and Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce opened a Business Recovery Center offering low-interest loans just days after the tornado, the co-owners were one of the first in line.

“I felt like there were people available to help us at every step. Anything we didn’t understand we got help with. It was awesome,” Comstedt says.

The rescheduled grand opening took place in March 2012. At last count, Comstedt says Amplify Gymnastics had more than 200 athletes enrolled, a phenomenal number for a gym its size.

“We feel really blessed to have the opportunity to do this again,” he says. “We were really glad we decided to move forward and stay in Joplin. It’s a return to normalcy.”gymnists' hands

The co-owners have mounted a beam from the old building right above the main entrance as a reminder, though.

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