Low enrolment forces Fredericton gymnastics club to close

Capital Gymnastics, a non-profit organization, closed on Dec. 31 without because of years of low enrolment, according to the owner.

Capital Gymnastics, a non-profit organization, closed without notice after parents paid for kids' classes

Captial Gymnastics was forced to close because enrolment fees didn't cover costs, the owner said. (Nathalie Sturgeon/CBC)

Parents who paid for their children to attend classes at Capital Gymnastics were surprised to learn the Fredericton gym had closed permanently without notice.

The owner of the non-profit gymnastic club said she was forced to close because of two years of low enrolment and high operational costs.

Susan Cantwell said she plans to refund all 2018 fees.

Enrolment numbers and expenses just weren't adding up, she said. 

"If you want to enjoy a non-profit and enjoy low fees, you have to support it," she said. "I couldn't see how it [could] go forward given the revenue versus expenses."

Cantwell's power bill was an average of $3,500 a month in winter, she said, and rent for the building on Whiting Road was about $5,000, despite a recent reduction by the landlord.

Susan Cantwell, the owner of the gym, said her winter power bill was usually about $3,500 and rent was $5,000. (Nathalie Sturgeon/CBC)

Cantwell said closing was a heartbreaking decision, but she had no choice.

Doors were locked

When Duda Kraljevic arrived at Capital Gymnastics in early January, the doors were looked and no one was around.

Kraljevic, who lives in Oromocto, paid $329 cash for her daughter to attend the gymnastics program.

"I was on sick leave," said Kraljevic. "At that time, we had to take her out of tennis. We had to choose because at the time the money was kind of tight."

She said it was devastating for her daughter to learn the club had closed.

Kraljevic said she was never made aware the gym was closing and took to social media to figure out where her money went.

"The club added a post saying the club was permanently closed, we're working on the dates and when they'll give us the money back," she said.

Cantwell said she has already provided some refunds and 11 people still need them.

She intends to pay everyone back, she said.

Kraljevic said she hopes Cantwell will keep her word so her daughter can put the money toward another activity. 

A safe space

Cantwell said the gymnastics centre was a place many kids could feel at home and safe. 

"There were so many wonderful stories that happened there," she said as she wept.

Cantwell remembers a girl with autism who visited the gym.

"According to her mother, she never smiled," said Cantwell. "She didn't communicate a lot, the only time she did is when she came into the club."

Many parents who signed up for new sessions this year were surprised they didn't get notice of the closing, especially since they'd already paid. (Joe McDonald/CBC)

"I was sitting with her mother and her mother said, 'My god, she's smiling.'"

Cantwell said she has no immediate plans to reopen the gym.

About the Author

Nathalie Sturgeon

Reporter

Nathalie Sturgeon is a reporter for CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She is a recent graduate from the journalism program at St. Thomas University. She is from Blackville.

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