HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Call it the "Olympic Effect".
Coaches at gyms and clubs across the country and here in Hawaii are seeing a spike in enrollment. Parents hope or believe their child could be the next Michael Phelps. Kids dream of being just like Gabby Douglas.
At Island Tumblers Gymnastics in Waipio, phones have been ringing off the hook since the American women took gold.
"Every four years, we get a big boom in business because all the kids see the Gabby Douglas' … They see them on TV. They want to be like them," says Coach Bryce "Utah" Covington, who owns and teaches at Island Tumblers.
The gym offers classes for kids, infants through 18, and there's a wait list upwards of 50 names long for each age group. Through thrills and spills, the Olympics are "teaching moments". "We try to encourage the kids through that. All right, did you guys see? Did you see how good her arms were tight by her ears in her round-off? And the kids, they want to do better," Covington explains.
Nine year old Keani Chong dreams of going for the gold one day, and Mom says Keani tries to copy the moves she sees on TV. Sadie Chong adds, "I can just see her eyes just twinkle that there is, you know, that she can do and go that far, if she wishes."
And it's not only gymnastics. With dozens of events in the Olympics, other sports are seeing a big uptick, too. Jan Prins, founder of the instructional company, Swim Hawaii, says, "Usually, we get about 4 to 5 calls a week, and in the last two weeks, we must have had over 40 calls."
Prins, who coached in the Olympics, and his staff teach both beginners' and advanced swimming. He says The Games remind viewers that the sport is an essential life skill. In fact, a third of the recent calls he received have been from adults wanting lessons. "A lot of them said, 'Oh, I got in the water when I was younger. Now, it's time for me to really learn how to swim'. So that's very encouraging."
The coaches have some advice for parents of budding athletes. Be ready for the commitment of time and money. Trust your coaches to do what's in the best interest of your child and give continued support. And remember: they don't have to get the gold to have the heart of a champion.
Young or old, the Olympics appear to have made a golden impression on us all.