If you’re a parent in Westchester, there’s a good chance you’ve been to Jodi’s Gym. The Mount Kisco mainstay for gymnastics classes, camps, and birthday parties has served tens of thousands of leotard-clad children since it opened 33 years ago. The woman behind the gym—Jodi Rosenwasser Levine—is both a passionate advocate for children’s fitness and a talented businesswoman.
The Rockland County native competed at the national level throughout her childhood, eventually earning a scholarship to the nationally ranked gymnastics team at Indiana State University. After college, thinking she was “done with gymnastics,” Levine obtained an MS in industrial psychology from NYU, but quickly realized she “didn’t want to work in a corporate HR department in a suit.” She returned to her roots and began teaching full-time at gyms in Manhattan, where she had her proverbial light-bulb moment.
“At the time, there were no noncompetitive gymnastics programs available for young children, and I wanted to change that,” she says. So in 1982, using borrowed equipment, she rented a tiny space in a ballet studio for $10 an hour and started teaching classes, paying the building’s elevator operator to “schlep all the equipment up and down whenever the studio wasn’t being used for ballet.” She was just 24 years old.
Fast forward to today and Levine runs the Mount Kisco location as well as locations on East 84th St and East 72nd St in Manhattan, with plans to expand to another undisclosed location soon. Ironically, for a former competitive gymnast, it’s Levine’s emphasis on not competing that sets her apart today. “I want all kids to feel good about gymnastics,” she explains, “not just the kids who are good enough to make the competitive team.”
She is also laser focused on hiring and training instructors with expertise and the ability to work well with children—“I’ve turned down former Olympians because they weren’t good with kids,” she says. Innovative business practices like Jodi’s To Go (which brings her teachers, curriculum, and equipment to offsite locations like camps, nursery schools, and child care centers) have also helped her expand.