Champions Training Academy sees successful soft opening, ready to recruit more aspiring gymnasts

Published 10:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Pattie Harrelson helps three-year-old Autumn Britt balance as she navigates up a rope. Such exercises are some of many participants go through at the newly-open competitive gym.

Champions Training Academy held its soft opening this week, ushering in a young generation of potential gymnasts.

With the grand opening of the competitive dance and cheer gymnasium only a week away, owner Pattie Harrelson has plenty of open spaces for new recruits. Champions Training Academy offers a variety of classes for children ages two to 15. A full list of offered classes, including gladiator training classes and introductory cheerleader classes, can be found at Other programs such as summer camps are also open for registration.

Harrelson began putting Champions Training Academy together earlier last month, reshaping the former Talladega Machinery and Supply building at 1504 Orchard Hill Road into a comfortable place for prospective gymnasts.

Currently, the building is decked out in patriotic colors, a nod toward her veteran father. The main gym functioned as the main workroom when Talladega was in operation. The area is complete with gymnasium mats, trampolines and several tools such as ropes and obstacles used as learning obstacles for students. Students are ushered through challenges tasks based on their skill levels, Harrelson explained. Once they exceed their levels, they are awarded medals and move on to new skill sets.

Parents like Allie Britt said she’s already seen the excitement in her child’s eyes after joining Champions Training Academy.

“She’s always been super hyper, and she likes to watch videos of kids [doing gymnastics],” she said. “It’s something she always wanted to do. When I found out this was opening, I was like ‘yes.’ As soon as it was open we set everything up.”

Thursday was Britt’s daughter, Autumn Britt’s, first day at Champions. The three-year-old spent her first day of class tumbling, jumping and even climbing a rope, all exercises that help her learn bodily control and balance, Harrelson said, but ultimately allowed her to have fun on her first day.

Britt is originally from Columbus and said while there were gymnastic businesses where she lived, she didn’t seek them out due to her daughter being too young to attend them. After moving to LaGrange, she began seeking an activity specifically for her daughter who was following her older brothers around.

“She tries to be under them, and I wanted to find something just for her,” Britt said “I think this right here is the perfect sport for her to do. It’s right up her alley.”

Since opening, class sizes have been very small, often consisting of just a few children. So far, Champions Training Academy has 18 participants. This was something Harrelson would like to see change by her grand opening but is also thankful for the initial amount of interest, she said.

“There’s a scripture that spoke to me this week that said ‘do not despise small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin,’” Harrelson said.

Harrelson’s grand opening on Saturday, April 16 will include an Easter egg hunt, a warm-up and tumbling challenge and an award ceremony. The winners will receive a special cash prize, Harrelson said. The free event will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.