How did we get here?
SALTO was born in 1995 when we also established the UK Registered Charity and was officially launched the name SALTO (Stopsley and Luton Town Olympic) Gymnastics Club, with 'SALTO also being a gymnastic term for 'somersault', was chosen. Stopsley Gym Club (SGC) and Luton Gym Club (LGC) - not to be confused with the current Luton Gymnastics Club. Both of those clubs formed in the early 70's, training at Stopsley High School and Luton Youth Club respectively. The two clubs both grew independently, offering many local youngsters the chance to participate in the sport of gymnastics. Members competed successfully in County, Regional and National Artistic Championships, notching up an impressive array of medals. A friendly rivalry was to be seen between the clubs in competition, although they also frequently combined for training sessions. Both had many claims to fame within the field with the girls of LGC forming the nucleus of the British Gymnastics squad in the early days, whilst SGC had their star in Eddie van Hoof, who after a successful competitive career, Eddie is now, Great Britain’s Head National Coach for Men’s Gymnastics. See Eddie's story in BG video
Eddie Van Hoof - A Life in Gymnastics
Time passed and circumstances caused both clubs to change venues, with Stopsley moving to the former Luton Regional Sports Centre and Luton being forced to seek new premises, moving to the top floor of an old hat factory in Guildford Street.
As both SGC and LGC were growing ever more popular and space to accommodate classes, now being run seven days a week at one or the other site, becoming a problem, a need to expand was seen. With the promise of a specialist sporting facility being planned for Luton by the Eastern Region Sports Council, both clubs saw this as the way forward and plans were put in place to win the privilege of having this facility as a new home. As discussions progressed it was soon evident that in order for the facility to best suit the needs of the sport, SCG and LGC would have to come together to form one club.
With the club trying to operate as one but from two sites, things were becoming difficult. In 1996, a Trampoline section was added to the club, which created a third site as training premises were at the High Town Recreation Centre. The hunt was on to relocate the whole operation into one temporary site until the funds were secured and the new facility built. This was to be a 'dry run' for the administration of the club and we moved lock, stock and barrel to Dawson’s, in what was JBS Business Park, in October 1996.
We would like to build a club archive with member images, old style video, and memories. If you would like to contribute to this project, contact us with your ideas and we will start the project.
We were determined to achieve our aim to have a purpose-built facility and the hunt was on for a site. In the meantime, our fund raising began in earnest. In a bold step the Board of Trustees made a monumental decision to borrow almost £1 million to buy and convert the huge warehouse and in November 2004 we eventually moved to the SALTO Centre. This was a warehouse devoid of any internal structure, apart from an office and one toilet.
Many people donated thousands of man hours of 'hard labour', to turn the warehouse into a gymnastics facility. Continuous investment in apparatus, new rooms, heating, lighting and sound systems, disabled persons lift access have made the SALTO Centre into the impressive facility in which we are now fortunate enough to train.
Where we are today
With effect from 31 December 2020, SALTO moves into a new phase in its long and successful development. The charity known as SALTO Gymnastics Club was dissolved and The SALTO Foundation Limited, our sister charity will continue its activities at the SALTO Centre. The name of the club will continue. It is a fantastic gymnastics and leisure facility that is host to a range of activities for all ages and abilities and is open 7 days.
SALTO is affiliated to British Gymnastics, the UK National Governing Body for the sport of Gymnastics, dedicated to developing gymnasts, coaches and clubs across a range of disciplines.
The club is supported by 4 patrons It is organised on a not-for-profit basis as a UK Registered Charity and managed on a voluntary basis by a Board of Trustees who look after its financial needs and overall supervision of activities.
Day to day management is conducted by the Chief Operating Officer, Head coach and Business development manager.
The management team are supported by a loyal and dedicated group of Heads of disciplines, Coaches, Young Leaders and Administration staff. Many of whom have been with the club for many years. This dedication has also been recognised in several cases in the annual Luton Sports Network Awards.
Our coaches are drawn from retired gymnasts, parents of past or present gymnasts, young leaders and individuals wishing to get involved in the sport. We aim for All coaches have British Gymnastics coaching qualifications or are being mentored for such qualifications. All have the relevant Child Safeguarding qualifications. SALTO is committed to the development of its coaches and makes it possible for them to attend courses to further enhance their skills for the benefit of the gymnasts.
The club continues to compete regularly in competitions at all levels in all disciplines of the sport and over the years has had winners at every level from Novice to Club, County, Regional, National and even internationally.
The club holds its own annual competition also giving all recreational club members the opportunity to win a medal. This experience gives these gymnasts a tremendous boost in confidence and all are bursting with pride at their achievements. The gymnasts are also encouraged to participate in a Christmas Show and annual awards evening to demonstrate their skills to family and friends in a non-competitive fun environment.
SALTO Gymnastics Club has come a long way since being founded by a merger in 1995.