Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika DeBolt.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I grew up with parents that were divorced. My mother moved us from state to state, and we ended up back in Ohio, where I attended Stebbins High School. I had a child a year after I graduated high school and attended Wright State University majoring in exercise biology. I was also a dental assistant in Beavercreek, Ohio. While in dental school, my husband and I found out we were expecting. Toward the end of the pregnancy, I became a stay-at-home mom. A few years later, my daughter, who was 7 at the time, started gymnastics. While sitting and watching her practice, I was asked if I wanted a job. I thought it would be for the office and was excited to be out of the house a few nights a week and feeling like I was contributing to our family again. I soon found out I was being hired for a recreational gymnastics coach job. I gladly accepted and started training for this position. I was a recreational coach for about 6 months and then was asked to be a level 1 pre-team coach. I soon became Head Coach of the Level 1 Pre-Team and starting coaching with competitive team. A few months later, we found out the gym owner was selling; I told my husband, and knowing he always wanted to be a business owner, we decided to take the leap of faith, and next thing I know, we were buying the gym.
I couldn’t even imagine having any other job. I am one of the lucky ones that can honestly say that I LOVE what I do! These kids teach me just as much as I teach them.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There have been many bumps, potholes, and even manholes along the way. Everything was going great in the gym. Classes were full with kids; we had plenty of staff, we were able to start replacing equipment throughout the gym, everything was smooth sailing. Until Memorial Day 2019. My husband and I had gone on vacation when late at night, we had received a call from an employee telling us the gym was hit by the tornado. Everything was pitch black outside, so no one could truly see the amount of damage. The front door was busted out from the fire department to get a family in for safety. The 2 brick pillars on the side of the building were destroyed and had become rubble on the ground. The roof was tore off in many places. Two air conditioning until were destroyed. Our entryway was tore out; trophies were broken, some even missing to this day. Glass everywhere. We couldn’t get a flight home until almost 36 hours later. By the time we made it to the gym, some of our employees and so many of our parents had the gym basically spotless. Glass was cleaned up; the bricks were cleaned up. The front door was boarded up. Since day 1 of having the gym, it has always been a family atmosphere that we wanted. I had always felt the support and love from our families, but I knew right at that moment that our family had our back.
We ended up with over 270 holes in the roof; we had buckets all around the gym trying to catch the water on rainy days. It wasn’t pretty, but no one gave up on us during that time. It took almost a year to get the roof replaced. We then had to start replacing foam flooring around the gym, drywall, ceiling tiles, etc.
December 2019, I was working and got a phone call that my dad was unresponsive. I ran out of the gym as fast as I could and spent the next few hours with my husband, my sister, and brother n law in the hospital where we ultimately left without my dad. I spent the next 2 weeks out of the gym. I had never missed a gymnastics competition before until then. Again, our families came through for us and got our daughter to TN for her competition. I hadn’t spoke to anyone from the gym- I just ran out that day, and that was that. The staff did everything that needed to be done. I had no worries when it came to the business.
We were approaching the end of our competitive gymnastics season and were in the process of preparing our girls for their state competition when we started to wonder if our state competition would actually take place.
March 16, 2020, we were mandated to shut down due to COVID. I just remember going to my office and crying. So many unknowns- no clue when we would get to open again, no clue as to how we would pay our bills. Everything I had ever known day in and day out since July 2017 was out of reach, out of sight. I stayed late at the gym that evening with my Head Coach, trying to wrap our heads around everything. Not knowing it would be nearly 3 months before we got to see the children that we put so much into each day, the children that gave us so much of their time for a sport they loved.
We had started Zoom conditioning and skill training shortly after the shutdown. A few days a week, the coaches would get on and condition the girls. Losing muscle was one thing we didn’t want them to go through. We knew it would be a hard comeback to the sport. Seeing the kids each day and seeing some of my staff was one of the few things that helped up through shut down.
March 17, 2020. The day after the dreaded mandated closure, I had woken up to an email thread started by a parent, with multiple emails of our team parents insisting they still pay tuition to help us get through. I sat on the edge of my bed and sobbed. What did I ever do to deserve to these amazing people in my life. One of the hardest things I ever did was let them pay tuition, knowing I wasn’t able to return the service they were paying for.
We opened back up June 1, 2020, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than having a huge sign right when you walked in the front door that said ‘Welcome Home!’
It was the best feeling in the world. When the gym had shut down, we were just under 1,000 kids total. We reopened with barely 200. It stayed that way for quite some time. When out of the blue, we had waiting lists on every single class. We had also opened 10 extra classes. We were booming, and I loved seeing each and every kid being able to do what they loved again!
July 2021, I was at work- standing in the exact same spot I was in December 2019- when my phone rang. It was my husband calling to tell me that my mother n Law had passed away unexpectedly.
July 2022, I am still short-staffed. I lost employees during COVID and just haven’t been back to where we started since.
Our troubles only made us stronger owners. It guided us and helped us learn how to navigate through these situations. My husband and I make a great team; without him, none of this would be possible. Without my amazing staff and families- we wouldn’t be here today. It hasn’t been an easy journey at all, but we have a great team of staff and families surrounding us with support every single day.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Quest Gymnastics offers a wide range of activities. We offer recreational gymnastics from walking through age 18. We have competitive gymnastics, tumbling, parkour, extreme ninja, open gym, and birthday parties. We also offer a free trial class for our programs, so families can try it out before the sign-up. Ninja is similar to ninja warrior. The room has a warp wall, a rock wall, slanted mats, snake beams, a ninja rig that is 10 feet high, 10 feet wide, and 20 feet long. The courses are all free hanging. This class helps focus on balance, coordination, building confidence and strength, and so much more. Parkour is a free running class. We start this class at age 9. The equipment is all wood, so it is different than ninja. Parkour focuses on building endurance, stability, strength all while jumping from object to object, possibly even flipping off an object. We are known for gymnastics and parkour mainly. We are the only facility without an hour radius that offers parkour training.
I am most of proud of each program and how we have built it. We have made it our own in the last 5 years and that is something I am beyond proud of. We made it through so many ups and downs in this business, but the staff has always made it work. Are we perfect? No. But we all learn when something goes wrong and that is what I love!
Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
My staff! My family! My gym family! They have had our backs since day. NONE of this business would be possible without any of them. We need happy families to succeed, that is made possible by the staff. It all goes hand in hand. Coaches that love what they do and love being here lead to kids that love that sport and love coming to class, which leads to happy parents that are glad to be here and recommend us. Without coaches and the rest of the staff, you have no kids, no parents.
My husband for being the greatest business partner! I flat out couldn’t do this on my own. I know that, and I have made sure he knows that.
I have a few employees that wear multiple hats. My office manager, Carla, and my head coach, Kim. They do multiple things outside of their job description. Which takes many things off of my plate at times!
I can’t even begin to thank everyone who has been involved with the Quest Family from day one.
- Tumblin Tots- 45 minutes $65
- One hour- Gymnastics, tumbling, ninja- $82
- Parkour- $87
- Hour and a half class- $102
- Two Hour class- $110
- Website: www.questextreme.com
- Instagram: @questgymnastics_
- Facebook: Quest Gymnastics and Extreme Sports Center
Josh Collins Photography