Former UK cheerleaders help run successful gymnastics center
Not many people get to turn lifelong, childhood passions into careers, but Heath and Stacy Underwood are proving the seemingly impossible is totally doable. The young couple, transplanted to Kentucky via the University of Kentucky, both work full time for Legacy All Sports and not only continuing their personal passions of athletics and passing the traits onto their two young daughters.
“I began junior coaching at a local gym when I was 14,” said Heath, who is Legacy’s gym manager and boy’s program director. “It was then I knew one day I was going to own a gym, coach and have the perfect life … My passion from day one has been gymnastics, and to be able to make that a part of my career is priceless.”
Underwood has been in gymnastics classes since he was 18 months old, and competed up to the Junior Elite level before moving on his senior year in high school due to back injuries. Eventually the Hattiesburg, Miss., native found his way onto the Kentucky Cheer team in 2004.
During those same years his now-wife Stacy was flipping away in Springboro, Ohio, competing in gymnastics and then cheerleading and power tumbling at the ripe age of 11. She made the Kentucky Cheer team also at the same time as Heath. She majored in finance, he majored in communication and leadership.
Only when the then-married couple’s young family began to grow did Stacy consider working full-time in the field that consumed her formative years. Her husband had already worked at Legacy since 2004. She moved out of the schedule-taxing financial industry to work full-time at Legacy in customer service to spend more time with her husband and newborn daughter.
“I never thought I would be able to work full time as a career in a gymnastics or cheer gym,” she said.
The couple now are able to get by without requiring full-time childcare for their kids, but admit that their schedule can be tiring and often involves different working hours.
“The biggest challenge for me is also the biggest benefit,” Heath said. “I do not have traditional hours. I have a set coaching schedule and fit in my management and administrative responsibilities around that.”
The administrative duties are perhaps even more challenging than the physical demands of coaching. Managing a gym requires physical fitness and top notch leadership skills.
“I do hiring and trainings of new staff, scheduling of multiple programs and staff, assisting in payroll and running our Legacy on the Move program, where we bring gymnastics out into our community,” Heath said.
Despite their own commitment to gymnastics, tumbling and cheer, the couple doesn’t pressure their athletically inclined daughters to follow in their footsteps.
“We just want them to do whatever makes them happy,” Stacy said, adding that their girls absolutely love gymnastics and are thrilled to be in the gym, especially since they have been there since they were infants. “We feel that gymnastics is such a good fundamental activity for all sports.”
Their competitive days behind them, these days the couple enjoys staying in shape with running and generally leading a very active lifestyle. Additionally, Heath leads the Adult Fitnastics classes at the gym, where normal adults can come in and get in incredible shape using gymnastics-related exercises right in the gym.
While the Underwoods had a big gymnastics head start, other adults interested in learning more about getting in shape through the sport can visit the gym for Fitnastics. Walk the balance beam, swing on the bars and try out the trampoline.—Abby Laub