By Mike LaBella
---- — Haverhill has a new champion.
Gina Paulhus, 32, is the current national gymnastics champion on vault, bars, beam, and the all-around for women ages 18 and over.
She recently traveled to Detroit to compete in the AAU Junior Olympics Games in the Ladies Level 8 Division.
Paulhus competed in the four women’s apparatus, winning the all-around competition for the overall title and placing second in the floor exercise.
”I’ve been training all year for this event, and to have my best performance to date was a tremendous cap to a stellar season,” Paulhus said.
At the event in Detroit, Paulhus placed first on vault with an 8.55 score out of a possible 10, first on bars with an 8.5, first on beam with an 8.6 and second on floor with a 9.1. She took first place in the all-around competition with a 34.75.
She earned her first national title last year when she traveled to traveled to Geneva, Ohio, for the AAU Ladies Division National Championships.
There, she competed in the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise events and won first place, becoming the ladies national champion on the floor exercise. She took third-place in the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and the all-around competition.
To qualify for the Olympics, Paulhus would have to increase the level of difficulty of her routine.
”After level eight, you become a level nine, and a level 10, then the Olympic level,” she said. “So to go to the Olympics, I would have to increase in level.”
”I am probably going to level nine next year,” she said.
Paulhus is president of Home Bodies, a company that provides personal trainers to clients. She travels to the homes of her clients to work with them. She trains in Portsmouth, N.H., at Atlantic Gymnastics and is coached by Matthew Yellis, Cori Cunningham and Allison Brisson.
”I got into personal training because I love to help people and it seemed to be a natural fit from being a gymnast,” she said. “I originally retired from gymnastics in college in order to have time to start my business, but then got back into gymnastics a few years later, once I learned that there are meets for adults, too.”
She said gymnastics is a fun hobby.
”I tried other things like golf, yoga and running, but never fell in love with them like I did with gymnastics,” she said. “There is a huge time commitment to be a good gymnast, but I’m willing to do that now because I know one day my body won’t be able to take it anymore.”
In addition to 13 hours a week of gymnastics training, plus weight training and cardio to improve her fitness level, she does yoga three hours a week and in between some extra stretching and physical therapy at home to stay in shape and be free of major injuries.
It sounds like a lot, she said, but luckily her work schedule is flexible since she owns her own company.
”I have trained myself to stretch and do simple exercises while in front of the TV or computer in order to multi-task,” she said. “I like to take time on the weekends or during lunch hour to spend with my husband, but other than that I’m pretty much always either working or working out.”
She said gymnastics helps her better focus in areas of her life so that she is more productive while working and more engaged when socializing.
”It keeps me out of trouble for sure,” she said, jokingly.
This is the fourth year she’s competed in the national events.
”There is no qualifying score to make it to nationals because there aren’t enough adult gymnasts to have to limit the field, however, in the future there probably will be a qualifying score because adult gymnastics is growing each year,” she said.
She also competes in smaller meets throughout the year.
”I really enjoy everything about gymnastics and my teammates and coaches are wonderful,” she said. “We are like one big family.”
Born and raised in Amesbury, Paulhus moved to Haverhill after she got married in 2009.
”I lived previously in Merrimac and liked the idea of having everything I needed right in town,” she said. “Many of my family are from Haverhill as well, and I love it here.”
The Gina Paulhus file
32 years old
Current national gymnastics champion for women 18 and older
President of Home Bodies, a company that provides personal trainers to clients
Lives in Haverhill, born and raised in Amesbury