Tumbling toward the top

Rochelle Johnson taking her passion to Castle Rock gym

Luke Graham

Rochelle Johnson was looking for a way to continue her gymnastics career without having to go through the constant pounding her body takes.

The 18-year-old may have just found that opportunity. She’s learning power tumbling, a new form of gymnastics that is less wearing on the body.

“They told me with power tumbling, I could do it as long as I want,” Johnson said about the new style of gymnastics. “Power tumbling doesn’t make the wear and tear that normal gymnastics does.”

Johnson was given the chance to try power tumbling when she attended a two-week training session at the Omega Gym in Castle Rock. The coaches from the gym saw Johnson compete in Grand Junction and invited her to come.

“They focused a great deal on her past skills, and they polished them,” Rochelle’s mother, Ellen, said.

Typical practices for Johnson consisted of three trips a week to Steamboat Springs, where she practiced for three hours a day.

At the Omega Gym, Rochelle put in six- to eight-hour days six times a week.

“I got really tired,” she said. “It was new because I haven’t gone for that long.

“On a regular basis, you don’t work that much.”

Ellen could see a physical difference in her daughter.

“She put on six pounds of muscle mass in two weeks,” Ellen said.

Rochelle impressed coaches enough in Castle Rock that she was offered the opportunity to stay and continue with her gymnastics development and learn power tumbling.

Power tumbling is a new part of gymnastics, in which participants run down a long springy runway and do a tumbling pass.

Rochelle has been doing gymnastics for most of her life and said she was excited when she got this opportunity.

“I am doing something that I love,” she said. “I worked really hard to get where I am. When you put a lot of work into it, it’s good to see the results afterwards.”

She said the opportunity in Castle Rock will allow her move on to a career in judging while refining her gymnastic skills.

“I am really grateful because I get to pursue my dream,” she said.

Johnson will have to stay in Castle Rock next year to get the training and attention she needs.

“I will have to get adjusted,” she said. “This is my first time away from home.”

“I’ll miss her,” her father, Sam, said. “But I have to think of the fact that this is what she really wants to do. We are behind her 100 percent.”

Although it will be an adjustment for Rochelle’s parents, they both are proud of how far Rochelle has come.

“She pulled her commitment together and knew this was what she wanted to do,” Ellen said. “We watched her come from her first day in gymnastics to be quite a powerful woman.”

Luke Graham can be reached at 824-7031 or

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