Gymco founder Doreen Bolhuis honored with YWCA Tribute Award

Posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016  |  


Congratulations, Doreen – you’ve earned this! We’re thankful for the way your leadership shaped and still influences Gymco each day.


(Article from MLive)


Doreen Bolhuis, 53, president and founder of Gymco Inc.

Nominators said: In 1980, Doreen became a pioneer in her field when, as a physical education teacher with no business experience, she envisioned and created her business. She launched her entrepreneurial journey when there were few female business owners or CEOs. Despite the absence of role models, mentors and business loans for women, she has reached a level of success that most male entrepreneurs have not been able to achieve. Gymco Inc. employs more than 25 employees and maintains a client base of over 1,000 students.

Over 35 years ago, Doreen founded Gymco to teach young children gymnastics, tumbling and sports skills and she has successfully managed and grown the company from its original home in a rented barn to its current 16,000-square-foot, state of the art facility. She has successfully built Gymco from the ground up, creating all business systems and maintaining steady growth through multiple recessions and crises.

While the core student curriculum at Gymco began with gymnastics (harkening back to Doreen’s experience coaching elite gymnasts), soon expanded to many physical activities designed to provide the children with not only physical skills but the resulting benefits of problem solving, goal setting, patience and self-confidence. Approximately 80 percent of Gymco’s students are girls between ages 1-18 and Gymco’s programs challenge the girls to develop courage and confidence while providing them with the support to reach their goals.

In 2009 Doreen co-founded Motion Evolution, L.L.C., which provides comprehensive programs of fitness and physical literacy for children of all ages. She is also co-founder of Fitsmart Productions, L.L.C., a company that produces a series of DVDs to teach physical literacy skills to young children (ages 6 months – 6 years), addressing the growing concern about obesity in the U.S.

Doreen is only the second female mentor to be appointed to the Jandemoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program, a highly selective mentoring program for companies positioned for second stage growth. She sits on the Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness, Health and Sports and is a member of the West Michigan Policy Forum Board of Directors and the Michigan Fitness Foundation. She is also a current member of the Honorary Council of Inforum of West Michigan.

She said: “My passion for helping others to develop courage and confidence runs deep and long as a thread throughout my life. My earliest memory of this is teaching other kids gymnastics and sports skills in my backyard in about fourth grade. I discovered the joy of helping people – especially girls – overcome fear to become more confident and strong and be more than they thought they could. I realized then that athletics was a way to empower girls to a higher level of self-confidence and courage.”

Life lesson: “I’d like to share two of my favorite quotes: “Fear is the raw material from which courage is manufactured” (author unknown), and “You must do the thing which you think you cannot do” (Eleanor Roosevelt). All of us have fears; find a pathway and support to move forward and you will emerge as stronger, more confident and courageous on the other side.”

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