At The Factory at East Ridge, gender equality is something settled on the playing field.
"We believe all sports are for all genders," said general manager and performance coach Victoria Phillips.
The girls who attend the after-school program have been introduced to football and are loving it — so much that the boys have had to take a reality check after a close match of boys vs. girls, Phillips said.
The nonprofit gym and after-school program teaches kids leadership, fellowship and teamwork. Through teamwork and friendly competition, the kids also learn about inclusion and gender equality, said Phillips.
Owner Heath Parham is a Chattanooga Futball Club Academy coach who teaches kids the fundamental skills used in soccer.
Phillips has multiple fitness certifications and runs the kids through speed and agility training courses. She also does private training with kids who want to reach that next level, as well as adults who need extra attention in the gym. Parents can even do private sessions with their kids for a family experience.
"We strive to create a family atmosphere, so our mission is based on family," Phillips said.
The gym has a 35-yard turf field as well as a weight and calisthenic room, a room for The Armory of Chattanooga Jiu-Jitsu Academy, and a wrestling room. Head coach of the East Ridge Wrestling Club, Ryan Tisdale, teaches wrestling lessons, and families can get discounts if they want to add jujitsu to their membership.
In addition to coaching in soccer, wrestling, football, and speed and agility, seasonal camps are available for kids from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"The parents love when the kids pass out when they get home," Phillips said.
Parents have even told The Factory's coaches that their kids are becoming more respectful and attentive since joining the gym. Their confidence is growing and they have less energy to distract them in class, Phillips reported.
"My eight-year-old, Audrey, works with Heath twice a week for soccer," said Jacqueline, a mother of two girls who go to The Factory. "I have seen a huge difference in her foot skills, playing ability, her attitude on and off of the field and in her schoolwork."
Phillips said The Factory strives to not only boost children's physical abilities, but their confidence, as well as implement family oriented goals. Each Factory athlete receives an individual plan that fits his or her goals and journey, she said.
"We want to build them .. intellectually as well as athletically," said Phillips.
Email Alexandra Farmer at email@example.com.