Academy balances gymnastics and academics

CHICAGO -- Aspiring gymnasts are now getting a leg up on the competition with a full 12-hour day training academy. IK Gymnastics Academy is one of the only schools like it in the country, serving only the most serious young gymnasts.

There are only eight students in the entire school, which divides their long day between state-regulated academia and intense training in all events related to USA gymnastics.

Founder and coach, Irinia Kudina said the academy was her dream, allowing her most dedicated gymnasts to complete their studies and spend the time needed to master their skills in the gym.

The academy has only been open one year, and already the students' state academic tests results showed every one of the students was performing two grade levels above average. Kudina credits the small class size and one-on-one instruction with their success.

The school is priced similarly to other private institutions in Chicagoland, but the day is far longer, going from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. during the week.

The students say they love it, with more time to focus on their passion without all the commuting back and forth between school and gymnastic team training at the gym. IK Gymnastics plans to add a second school next fall, with more of an emphasis on all sports, not just gymnastics.

For more information, check out their website at