Stephanie Gaglioti and Amanda Lorenze spend a lot of time together. The best friends have known each other since the third grade, growing up in Park Ridge. They were both involved in gymnastics growing up, worked at Dora's Gymnastics in Hillsdale, and participated in competitive cheerleading in high school. The two went separate ways for their college careers but ended up back together again to establish Aeon Fitness and Gymnastics in 2010.
"We worked together at this gym when it was Dora's Gymnastics," says Amanda. "We've been here since we were 14 or 15—that's a long time!"
Aeon offers two side-by-side gyms, the second one being added during an expansion in 2019. One gym is dedicated to competitive and pre-competitive team training, and the other accommodates recreational programs, classes, camps, and birthday parties. "We started with seven coaches, and now we have 60," says Stephanie. "In 2010 we had about 300 kids during a ten-week period, and now we have 1300 for the same period. We feel that it's important to continue remodeling and upgrading our facilities."
Although the facility has turned out state, regional and national champions, the focus of this women-owned business is on more than gymnastics. The partners set a high bar in delivering a quality gymnastics program that emphasizes a well-rounded life view and the ultimate significance of developing each student as a whole.
"We chose the name "Aeon" because it means forever, or everlasting," says Amanda. "It's important to us that everything our students learn here can be useful throughout their lives."
"Gymnastics creates a great foundation for life, says Stephanie. "Academics come first, but most of our students excel all around—even the busiest student-athletes. Everyone comes for a different reason. Some doctors recommend that children participate in gymnastics to improve coordination or expend extra energy."
The facility teaches all ages and levels, emphasizing that everyone needs to work toward their personal goals. Children with special needs are also welcomed into classes, and they benefit from the workout, structure, and thrill of achievement.
"We have the ability to challenge everyone in a positive way by empowering them to set goals and push their limits. It's important to instill confidence in movement as well as body and spatial awareness. These are all great lifelong skills," says Amanda.
Featured programs at the gym include gymnastics, tumble, cheer, and Ninja Warrior (yes, like the show!) for boys and girls aged three and up.
Their fun, youthful approach to the discipline of gymnastics makes for a positive experience for students.
Stephanie notes, "It's a younger vibe here, and we are very community-centered. We hire local athletes, high school coaches, and college students along with renowned professional coaches. We have a big staff, but it works well for us. We have a great work environment, and our team has fun together.
Celebrating victories is the name of the game at Aeon. Recently, when two gymnasts received "perfect 10" scores in competition, the entire facility celebrated with a party. Stephanie and Amanda have also arranged visits from Olympians like Aly Raisman, Shawn Johnson, and Nastia Liukin for inspirational talks, clinics, and demonstrations. They also prioritize giving back to the community and various charities with fundraising events. "We try hard to inspire kids with positive memories that continually develop their strong foundations," says Amanda.
Building a business from the ground up with a lifelong friend certainly has its challenges, but the rewards are invaluable.
"I’m proud of what we created over the years,” says Stephanie. “We enjoy every part of this business, and we work so well together.”
“I enjoy seeing our students and their desire to excel in the sport of gymnastics,” says Amanda. “We get to watch them build their confidence and become proud of themselves. And we get to see the smiles in here—every day.”