Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Lauren Petrick

LEAP South Florida

South Florida

When you walk into Lauren’s gym, you instantly hear the buzz of people simultaneously running, jumping, swinging and flipping. After a few minutes you’ll also notice Lauren using the balance beam to teach a client how to walk, or taking time out from mat-work to focus on confidence-building exercises. Lauren has been a gymnast and coach for over 15 years; today, she works with special needs clients at her gym LEAP South Florida to help them develop a range of skills, from body awareness and motor skills, to self-confidence and teamwork.

“My former boss introduced me to one of his family members who has a son that was diagnosed with Fragile X. They just wanted their son to be active run, jump, do something other than be on a computer. I said, ok, I’ll teach him. And then she told someone else about what I do, and they told someone else, and next thing I knew, I had five special needs clients,” says Lauren.

It was at that moment Lauren had found want she wanted to do. She presented her employer with a proposal to launch a special needs program at their gym. They told her that they would rather have her coach recreational and competitive gymnastics. So, at 28 years old, Lauren quit her job to start her own business.

“My parents said if you are going to start a business, now is the time to do it,” reminisced Lauren.

The combination of gymnastics, business, and an education in psychology paid off. She started renting space at a local gym to run LEAP South Florida’s programs.

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