Viking Gymnastics & Dance – Our History

The story of Viking Gymnastics dates back to the 1980s when our Director, Charlie Friedman, began her gymnastics career at the age of eight and quickly fell in love with the sport. What her parents thought would be a weekly activity, quickly became a passion resulting in a deeper commitment to the sport. Her training included traditional gymnastics, ballet, and acrobatic dance.

Young Girl on Balance Beam at Gym

Owner/Director Charlie Friedman

After competing in both club and high school gymnastics, throughout college Charlie performed with an acrobatic dance company. During her elementary education certification program, Charlie was hired by Niles North High School as a choreographer and assistant coach for the girls’ gymnastics team. Shortly thereafter, she became head coach and started an off-season feeder program for the high school and younger students in the area. That program grew into what is now Viking Gymnastics & Dance.

Gymnastics and Dance school

The early years at Niles North

With budding competitive teams registered through AAU/GIJO and then USA Gymnastics, and a growing recreational program, Viking needed to find a home outside of the high school’s second floor gym. In 2012, Viking opened a bright and dynamic 15,500 square foot gymnastics facility in Niles, Illinois. After successfully operating there for 5 years, it became apparent that a larger facility was needed. In 2017, Viking increased their space to 37,000 square feet and was able to grow areas like their Baby and Toddler program, which allowed for more appropriately sized equipment, trampolines, and exciting obstacles.

Time for Tots gymnastics and dance

Children enjoying themselves at Time For Tots and in a class in the expanded tot area

With the expansion of their space, Viking was also able to incorporate the dance studios that Charlie had always envisioned into their programming. Viking Dance offers Traditional Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Hip Hop, and a variety of classes for all ages.

Dance Lessons Niles IL

Dance has found a new home for all ages at Viking

Charlie and the entire Viking Staff believe that every child can benefit from gymnastics and dance, and they are committed to providing a positive and enriching experience to everyone who walks through their doors.