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Boys still flipping over gymnastics in St. Louis

Boys are still flipping out over the sport, particularly at one St. Louis County gym where the coach is passing along a passion for gymnastics

ST. LOUIS — We saw firsthand here in St. Louis just how popular women's gymnastics is. But what about the men? 

Turns out boys are still flipping out over the sport, particularly at one St. Louis County gym where the coach is passing along a passion for gymnastics he learned from a famous Olympian.

It's a gym that lives up to its name. And at 'Hi NRG Gymnastix' the boys have plenty of it.

"We do a lot of obstacle training to trick the boys into upper body strength," said coach Paul Battaglia. 

A course of rings and ropes can be a challenge for kids at first.

"Then he's at the top of ringing the bell, 'Coach. I did it. Mom, take a picture.' They couldn't be more proud of themselves," said Battaglia.

And for him, that's the point. 

"Often less than one percent of the children who enroll will end up competing...the goal, especially at Hi NRG, is to build a confident athlete," he said after a session at one of his five gyms in the St. Louis area. 

Confidence is what Battaglia says the sport did for him. 

Just when he thought, at the age of 18, his gymnastics career was over, gold medalist turned broadcaster Tim Daggett took Battaglia on as a student. 

"He served me very well. He believed in me enough. He helped me get some scholarship offers and I ended up competing in division one gymnastics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque," said Battaglia. 

"And, it really built up my confidence," he recalled. 

Battaglia said that experience is what motivates him today. 

"From the day opened my first gym in '95, my mission was not to create an Olympian. My mission was to make sure that every child who came through our gym understood that they can do anything if they're willing to work hard and sustain focus," said Battaglia. 

"My promise to you is you get to a good gym that gym will help your son develop an athleticism and a sense of confidence that is rare today in young athletes where self-doubt can be prevalent."

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