The sport, and shall we say, art of gymnastics dates back thousands of years to the days of the Ancient Greeks. Generations of athletes have tested their bodies’ limits, leaping, stretching, and vaulting themselves into the air while performing what appears to be physics-defying maneuvers.
For Parvin Peik, the skills exemplified in the sport she so dearly loves only show that possibilities continue to expand as newer generations take up the mantle of their predecessors. Selected to represent Iran as a gymnast for the 1964 Olympics, she has experience and the foundation she hopes to impart along with her roster of coaches at Payke Gymnastics Academy.
In business in South Pasadena since 1949 — originally located across the street from its current Mission St home — Payke provides courses for students of all ages; from toddler courses that can be taken with parents to more advanced courses for older children and teenagers. Peik also recruits whom she calls her stars for invite-only teams. “They are very high level,” she notes, priming them for multi-tier competition.
Hiring only the best, Peik’s instructors — of whom her head coach has worked with her for over 26 years — foster a professional environment while still being mindful of what makes gymnastics so exciting. Providing a balanced regimen that focuses on both discipline and fun, Peik knows that one of the most important components to their success is maintaining “the relationship between teachers and the kids and parents. That still is the most important thing; to make the kids happy and take care of the coaches,” as she puts it.
If the trophies and awards filed all over the room are any indication, the tutelage over at Payke exemplifies that star quality Peik strives for. Among the chalk dust settled on mats and balance beams, though, there is still more to be offered here; summer classes, which are now in session, offer craft activities, fort building, relay races, obstacle courses, games and more for girls and boys age 5+.
Although Payke had much success with enrollment for years, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the gym to the brink. A business that relies almost solely on in-person instruction was unable to thrive with the many restrictions instated over the past year, says Peik. “My business was not really good…. I lost a lot of kids. I really didn’t have business. Before, I used to advertise. I used to have City of South Pasadena (use) my gym for beginners (classes) but not anymore. For advertising, I rely on word-of-mouth and also Facebook.”
As summer ramps up and restrictions have been lifted, Peik looks forward to business picking up and the possibility of seeing droves of young ones jumping at the chance to get in some physical activity. “This is what I like to do. Every morning, I come here (and) I say sometimes ‘God, especially right now, I hope someday (it) might go back to the way it was,” she says.
Payke Gymnastics Academy is located at 1122 Mission St in South Pasadena, (626) 799-5050.
A second location can be found at 107 S Garfield Ave, Alhambra, CA 91801.