Blog · Geriatric Gymnast

Geriatric Gymnastics 7

Debra Bassin: Courage and Grit Personified

Part 1: Who is Debby?

The idea of owning and operating a gymnastics facility scares the bejesus out of me. Every time I walk into the gym, my first thought is how grateful I am that the doors are open to me.  Most gyms do not accommodate adults in gymnastics; the liability is too high and insurance is much more expensive for people over 18, mainly because old people’s bodies don’t bounce back like the kids’ bodies do. The fact that anyone made the choice to include adults in their gymnastics business plan fills my heart with gratitude. My second thought when looking at the cavernous warehouse space with over 30-foot ceilings abuzz with seemingly chaotic activity, is how the gym is a living, breathing behemoth of an operation, fraught with danger from injuries to liability to financial disaster. Only the most courageous (and maybe insane) individual would choose to take on the beast.

For Debby Bassin, those lurking (and sometimes ever-present) hazards are certainly things that scare her, but not enough to stop her from doggedly pursuing the one thing she wanted to achieve in her adult life: owning and operating her own gym. With grit, determination, and an inability to take no for an answer, she has taken on the responsibility of providing a space for those, young and old alike, who share her passion of flipping for fun.

I have known Debby since we were in high school. Well, technically she was in middle school when I first learned of her. Her sister Gail was a year older than me, and Debby was her gymnast kid-sister who was two years behind me. She was one of the adorable, spunky underclassmen that I’d see regularly in chorus class. After graduation, it wasn’t until after we were married and mothers looking for a way to get some good exercise that our paths crossed again.

Coincidentally, we both found “Joe’s gym,” a local facility at the time who offered adult classes. Even though we discovered this new possibility around the same time, our different schedules led us to our separate respective workout days. Once in a while, we’d find ourselves in the same class and I’d see her beaming face and spunky energy in class (often with baby carrier in tow) and I’d learn a little from her, just I like I had from many of the women with whom I had trained over the years.

Debby’s giant personality had always overshadowed her diminutive stature. Confident, capable and above all, kind, Debby was never someone to underestimate. Since opening the doors to Flipper’s Gymnastics in Ramsey, New Jersey in 2017, she has served her community as a successful business owner. I have admired her for many years and was curious to know more about how she finally resolved, in her mid-40’s, to take the enormous leap and open her own gym. We sat down in January for a long conversation all about her turbulent and successful journey.

I am excited to introduce a new facet of my Geriatric Gymnastics series, Debra Bassin: Courage and Grit Personified. In these next chapters, I will reveal Debby’s story as a gymnast and an emerging business owner. She is a respected member of her community and has braved the turbulence that the last few years have thrown our way. Because of her impeccable integrity and strength of character, she has weathered many a storm and has emerged, if not unscathed, then smarter and stronger for the lessons she has learned. Her clients (myself included) appreciate her business model and her mission:

Flipper’s Gymnastics is a facility founded on the philosophy that you don’t have to compete to enjoy gymnastics. We provide instruction using a skills-progression methodology, which teaches skills in the proper order. This, in turn, allows the body to adapt and strengthen, which reduces the risk of injury caused by trying higher level skills before one is ready.

Debby Bassin is a one-of-a-kind woman and I am excited to share so many things about her journey, and how knowing her has impacted mine in such a positive way. Stay tuned for Part 2: In the Beginning!

If you are in the Ramsey area and would like to learn more about Debby’s gym, visit the Flipper’s Gymnastics website.

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