Tumble vault flip

FreeG frees aspiring gymnasts from the rigid rules that control classic gymnastics

At a Grafton class, a young would-be gymnast got help from Dominic Daley. Photo by Sam Arendt
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By MITCH MAERSCH Ozaukee Press staff Dominic Daley was never into gymnastics growing up, but it has become his life’s work, at least for now. The 2015 Cedarburg High School graduate has been teaching gymnastics since his freshman year of college. But t
Ozaukee Press staff

Dominic Daley was never into gymnastics growing up, but it has become his life’s work, at least for now.

The 2015 Cedarburg High School graduate has been teaching gymnastics since his freshman year of college.

But this isn’t the typical Olympic-type tumbling. Daley teaches freestyle gymnastics, or FreeG, at Infinite Gymnastics in Brown Deer, and introduced children to the sport at Neutral Ground MartialArts in Grafton.

“I truly love gymnastics but I don’t like the rule set,” Daley said.

“Gymnastics is compulsory driven. Every kid does the same thing to a certain point. I don’t enjoy that part of it.”

Daley wants to be more creative, which is exactly what FreeG allows.

The Infinite Gymnastics website describes the sport as originating in Britain and offering freedom and individuality in incorporating gymnastics, tumbling and vaulting skills, without being bound by the traditional structure of gymnastics.

Soon after Daley began attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he started with traditional gymnastics through his grandmother Nora Williquette, who at the time owned Infinite Gymnastics. He had played around at the gym as a child, and she offered him a job to help with birthday parties and open gyms.

“They really liked me and recruited me to teach gymnastics,” Daley said. “Through that, I learned a lot.”

While he didn’t grow up with the sport, gymnastics wasn’t a huge leap for Daley. Much of his free time as a youth was spent at Sunburst Ski Hill in Kewaskum and Four Seasons and Cream City skate parks in Milwaukee.

“I was a really big skateboarder and snowboarder growing up. I still am,” he said. “I learned to backflip so I could do it on my snowboard.”

Now, Daley teaches recreational and FreeG classes from age 3 to adult. Most of the students are girls but the FreeG classes draw more boys as male gymnastics becomes less popular.

Running classes sometimes does as much for Daley as it does for the students.

“Teaching is a really easy way to help you learn,” he said. “I just really enjoy doing it myself. It’s fun to kind of bring people into my world, show them what it’s all about.”

Daley’s world soon expanded after he began teaching at Infinite Gymnastics, which was then owned by his grandmother. That’s where he was introduced to Parkour — the outdoor version of FreeG — and he fell in love with it.

Daley had heard of Parkour and knew people who did it, but it’s when he got into the Milwaukee scene and met participants who were good at it that his passion was driven.

“It’s not just dancing around,” he said. “I’m actually doing some pretty crazy flips.”

He introduced more youth to the sport through special programming over holiday break at Neutral Ground Martial Arts in Grafton, and Daley may teach more classes there.

“Lots of opportunities have opened since I started going to Neutral Ground. I feel very welcome there,” he said.

Daley still teaches full time at Infinite, where, he said, he leads 25 classes per week. Classes are offered throughout the year, with competition season for various ages running from about

September to May. Summer is slower, he said, but classes are still run.

Between skateboarding, snowboarding and FreeG, Daley has sustained his share of injuries. He has had surgeries on his ankle and shoulder, but no broken bones.

Those aren’t the only sports Daley loves. His stepfather recently roped him into the martial art jiujitsu, and now Daley is hooked on that.

It has proven to be difficult. Daley said he can pick up many sports on his own, but not this one.

“It’s a different type of challenge. I am totally a beginner at it. It’s like a game of chess. You have to read and predict the opponent,” he said.

His devotion to jiujitsu is one more thing on Daley’s list of enthusiasms.

“I just pop in to things and get obsessed with them,” he said. “Then I add it to my repertoire and move on.”

In the rest of his spare time, Daley enjoys exercising often — doing “traditional workouts” — and playing Minecraft and Pokemon.

He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UWM and hopes to someday get into physical therapy.

Regardless of his career, Daley said, he plans to keep teaching FreeG.

“I definitely don’t think I’ll ever get out of it. I truly enjoy my access to the gym as well. I still enjoy doing it myself,” he said.

That was all thanks to his grandmother and that job offer.

“I can probably thank the gymnastics realm for inspiring me into being more physically active,” he said.

 

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