Sometimes people can re-invent not only themselves, but their careers, too. That’s exactly what happened to Gina Alexander, who twice has opened a gym in East Bernard, in between traveling to Morocco as an educator.

New life – new location for her gym business.

Alexander has three collegiate degrees, she enjoys dance and gymnastics, and remembers the encouragement she received from her mentor, the late Lynn Bates, who was from Wharton. 

Bates passed away in 2013, but before her passing had become Alexander’s role model. It was all about cause and effect. Bates explained to Alexander to look for courage in everything she does. The effect is what she is today.

“I try to emulate her professional, exciting and knowledgeable methods of running a studio/gym,” said Alexander. She originally opened her business in 1996, using a pool room and her parents’ front yard near Wharton. 

“I called it ‘Gym and Swim.’ A summer camp for swimming and gymnastics lessons,” said Alexander. “A small group of students pushed for more and then I moved to East Bernard, built my shop and changed the name to ‘The Flip Flop Shop’.”

She became a world traveler of sorts, especially when she was invited to teach classes in Morocco. 

“I have traveled to many countries and met people from many diverse cultures who have added to my knowledge of education, dance, gymnastics, swimming, cheer and life,” said Alexander.  “I am truly grateful for these friendships and experiences; these people will forever be in my heart.”

Alexander, who was a school teacher and counselor for 34 years, served six years as a counselor overseas in Morocco, starting in 2014. 

“My children were away at college so I thought this would be a good opportunity,” said Alexander. “However, I did not leave my dancing shoes home. While in Morocco I coached swimming, gymnastics, dance, and cheer after school. This was a difficult, but exciting move for me. At age 50 I had reinvented myself again, traveling, meeting new people and sharing my passion for education.”

She worked in education for a while in Albania, but was forced to come home this year due to the pandemic. Now, after six years working overseas, she has returned to reopen her business, which is now located at EB Fitness, 825 Seydler Street, in East Bernard. She continues teaching students the skills that she has loved for most of her life. 

She has always had students or former students help her out in the gym. She relies on support from her family and friends. She currently has students from Boling, Wharton, Eagle Lake, Brazos, and East Bernard.

“My greatest success story is raising two great children by myself,” said Alexander. “They helped me build my business, worked with me (even when they did not want to), went to college, and have made my life a wonderful adventure.”

Classes take place from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday during the school year, and she holds three one-week camps in the summer. Alexander offers private lessons or semi-private lessons for students as young as four years to adult for boys and girls. She keeps class sizes small for one-on one instruction. 

She’s prepared for a new approach to gymnastics that is starting to grow in popularity. 

“Gymnastic birthday party venues are now available to schedule as well,” said Alexander, who is planning to reinstate private choreography with tap, jazz, ballet and pointe for school dance groups and individuals needing a routine for pageants or other events. 

Costs are monthly $60 for groups and $75 for private/semi private lessons. For more information, call Alexander at 979-533-4780

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