IK Academy balances elite gymnastics and well-rounded education

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's not every day you get to walk to class on your hands, but for these students it's just another assignment.

"I love challenging myself. I'm not that scared of anything. If I am scared, I just push myself through it and I just get the job done," said Gabrielle Gauger, fourth grader at IK Academy.

Gabrielle is wrapping up the first year of the IK Academy, Chicago's first school that provides well-rounded education to compliment intense high-level gymnastics training.

"For me they are heroes, really heroes, because, you know, I know how much challenges, how many fears and doubts they would have. I really want to help them to get their best and get their dreams come true," said Irina Kudina, IK Gymnastics owner.

Madison's Gustitus, a fifth grader at IK Academy, said her goals are, "To make it to the Olympics and be the best gymnast I can be."

To be a gymnast at this level takes incredible mental discipline that can't help but carry into the classroom. And this year they've counted a success: this group, on average, is testing two grades ahead of their current year.

"I do believe that it kind of works almost together, and mainly behaviorally I would say but academically as well. They mainly compete with themselves, not each other, which is a great thing," Ramina Isaac, IK Academy teacher.

"You get gymnastics in the morning and the afternoon, and you also don't' have to rush because you're already here, and you don't have any homework so you don't have to stay up late," Madison said.

Irinia competed at a high level as a young girl in the Soviet Union, but this unique training facility has always been her dream and she hopes to help these young women reach theirs.
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