By Shay Moser
Photos courtesy of Xtreme Gymnastics

Aimee Burton started in ballet at age 6, following in her older sister’s footsteps. Little did she know that getting kicked out of ballet for doing handstands and cartwheels would lead to the role she’s held for 29 years.

Burton is the director and owner of Xtreme Gymnastics in Scottsdale, where kids are inspired to get fit and learn in an exciting environment. Its variety of programs helps children develop the strength and self-esteem they need to succeed.

She began teaching gymnastics part-time in March 1989. “I loved it, quit my job, went full-time, and that was it; I never looked back,” says Burton.

HART Principles in Practice
“HART principles are what set us apart,” Burton says. “It’s not only about gymnastics. We try to instill character-building along with all the fun of doing gymnastics.”

Burton explains that every month, the gymnastics coaches focus on a different HART principle, including honor, attitude, responsibility, and teamwork. Honor is about honesty in word and action. A positive attitude has dramatic effects and is contagious. Responsibility is accepting consequences for choices, positive or negative. And teamwork is being united in developing confident, healthy, responsible children. The gym coaches take opportunities throughout each class to point out examples of the kids exhibiting a HART principle.

“As they get further along in gymnastics, they’re held more accountable for showing HART principles, recognizing those traits in others, and helping each other demonstrate them,” says Burton.

Besides character-building, gymnastics naturally promotes crossing the midline, the imaginary line down the body’s center that divides it left and right. Crossing the body’s midline is the ability to reach across the middle of the body to perform tasks on the opposite side of the body.

“In all our programs, we deliberately encourage upside down and crossing the midline movements,” she says. “It’s been scientifically proven to improve kids’ academic performance.”
Gymnastics for Little Ones
Xtreme Gymnastics coaches encourage children ages 2 to 4 to move in various ways, helping them learn to roll, swing, jump, and balance while enhancing their social awareness.

“This age is prime for physical, mental, and emotional development and haptics,” says Burton. “Those years up until age 5 get the highest level of benefit from participating in gymnastics because of the nature of going upside down and crossing the midline.”
Gymnastics for Ages 5 and Older
Beginning at age 5, kids move through balance beams, bars, trampolines, and more, learning key gymnastics skills.

“From age 5 and up, you’re not creating new pathways, but you’re making the pathways that you have more efficient,” explains Burton. “So, they continue to benefit from going upside down, turning around, and flipping around.”

If kids have the interest or natural ability, they can join a competitive gymnastics team next.
Turning Energy into Ambition
Ninja Zone classes help energetic kids from ages 3 to 12 move through a fusion of obstacle training, martial arts, gymnastics, and freestyle movement. Gym coaches help “ninjas” channel their energy and learn to safely spin, roll, flip, and kick.

“Ninja Zone is geared toward capturing boys’ attention,” explains Burton. “It has the same benefits for any child but registers better with boys and their parents.”

Burton says Xtreme Xplosion is the next step up from the Ninja Zone. Students move through exercises uniquely designed to build strength, balance, and explosive power to develop and enhance their athletic abilities.

“It’s development for pure athleticism,” says Burton. “Several students are top in their sports locally and have gone on to play in the NCAA. It’s a way of supplementing whatever sport they’re taking, giving them an edge. We have tools and a way of using them that you can’t get in a weight room or running laps on a track.”

Fit-N-Fun Day Camps
Fit-N-Fun Camps promote health and fitness, while kids have a blast. Each week, children ages 3 to 12 will enjoy gymnastics, trampoline, group challenge activities, obstacle courses, team sports, relay races, inflatables, and more.

Xtreme’s spring break Fit-N-Fun Camp runs from March 11 through 15 and offers half- or full-day options. Meanwhile, summer camp starts on May 28 and runs through July.

“Our staff is high energy, USA Gymnastics Safety Certified, with complete background checks,” says Burton.

Xtreme Gymnastics follows the same calendar as the Scottsdale Unified School District so kids can exercise and learn during summer, fall, winter, and spring breaks. Families can also take advantage of Parents’ Night Out and birthday parties.

“I’m looking forward to our continued growth and exposing more children to what we do and how we do it,” says Burton.

Xtreme Gymnastics is located at 14000 N. Hayden Rd., #102, in Scottsdale. For more information, visit or call 480-596-3543.

This content is sponsored by Xtreme Gymnastics.