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Meet Phylicia Benjamin of Perfect Score Athletic Training Center in Gardena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Phylicia Benjamin.

Phylicia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
From a very young age I had an unusual strength and love for climbing. When playing outside I’d be climbing in the trees on the street swinging from branches like uneven bars. My parents house had a brick fence that I began to use as a balance beam doing cartwheels and falling into the rose bushes if I missed my landing. The thorns didn’t stop my passion for challenging myself to learn. My mom and dad set out to find an outlet for me before I killed myself on my homemade apparatus. They signed me up for a recreational gymnastics class at the local park, Rowley Park in the City of Gardena. It was there the instructor referred them to an established gym because of my strength and ability to learn fast. I began my journey at South Bay Gymnastics in Torrance with the only African American gym owner in the area, Jerry Jackson. South Bay gymnastics exposed me to competitive gymnastics and my passion for the sport developed as I matured. In high school I began volunteer working summer camp at South Bay. I was also a volunteer trainer for the Gardena Youth Football and Cheer program. I’d teach the cheerleaders on the team I was training their gymnastics tumbling skills and developed a reputation as the tumbling coach. In college I started cheernastics classes at Mas Fukai Park for local cheerleaders to acquire their tumbling skills. After my sophomore year at CSULB I returned to South Bay Gymnastics to coach the competitive team. While coaching at South Bay Gymnastics I acquired the same coaching style and philosophy as Coach Jerry. He had a positive influence on my gymnastics career as both an athlete and coach. This led me with the goal to open my own facility when South Bay closed after his passing in 2015. I spent two years working as a substitute teacher and physical education teacher at charter schools. During this time I constructed my business plan and continued offering classes at Mas Fukai Park in Gardena.

I opened Perfect Score in 2017 after outgrowing the local park. Opening my first physical location was intimidating but I took on the challenge without hesitation. I’ve always enjoyed serving the youth of my community and opening Gardena’s first tumbling and gymnastics center was going to give the inner city youth opportunities to thrive in a sport that’s not always accessible.

I offer classes at affordable rates to serve my demographic charging almost half of my competitors. Over the years, my clientele has continued to grow through referrals and social media. In 2019, I started a competitive team. Although our studio has a small size and limited equipment, we were able to compete and win at competitions. This season we had multiple all-around champions, individual event champs, and many top 10 finishes. All of the girls qualified for the California State Meet but due to Covid-19 the competition was canceled. As a former gymnast and current owner, I am proud to take my all-African American team to a competition where not only they are successful but they are making history and breaking boundaries. Gymnastics is not a sport where the minority is the majority but at Perfect Score the Black Girl Magic is real. We have been closed for over a month now due to the Coronavirus but many of the girls have been practicing at home and sending the best home videos that keep me positive. I am looking forward to getting back to business once it’s safe to do so.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenge was finding a commercial landlord that believed in me and my business plan. I dealt with numerous declines and missed opportunities being a new business. Perfect Score was unable to acquire funding because lenders don’t give loans to startups. Gymnastics equipment is extremely expensive and we were 100% self funded. Finding our current location in Gardena was a dream come true. The landlord took a chance and we’ve been successful ever since.

Opening the business came with many obstacles. One of my biggest obstacles came the same month I signed the lease for Perfect Score. I found out my husband and I were expecting our first child. This was both scary and encouraging. As a one woman team at that time, I knew I couldn’t allow pregnancy to stop my dreams. I worked through my entire pregnancy up until the studio closed for the Holiday break and my princess was born January 7. Another obstacle the gym faced was discovering the slow months for the business. Year one, this was tough and took a lot of adjustments.

Perfect Score Athletic Training Center – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Perfect Score is a gymnastics training center. We specialize in gymnastics and power tumbling for cheer. Perfect Score is known for its affordable prices and amazing results. As the owner and coach at Perfect Score, I am dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of all children through quality fitness and gymnastics instruction. I am dedicated to the emotional and physical well being of the girls and boys I encounter. I strive to not only enhance their physical abilities but also raise their self-esteem. I believe this is what Perfect Score is known for. Everyone knows my style of coaching is about building the mental and physical while uplifting the child to gain an overall confidence in their skills. I am proud to practice and preach my coaching philosophy successfully. A great coach can change a life!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
So far, the proudest moment of my career has been my successful all-African American gymnastics team. I am most proud of this accomplishment because Perfect Score is a small gym in the inner city with limited resources but my team competes against large fully equipped gymnastics studios and wins! With or without winning having them competing is an achievement in itself. Their success is the cherry on top and gives me so much pride and joy.

Pricing:

  • $60 (monthly tuition) – 1x weekly class
  • $100 (monthly tuition) – 2x weekly class

Contact Info:

  • Address: 2257B West Rosecrans Avenue Gardena, CA 90249
  • Website: www.PerfectScoreATC.com
  • Phone: (424) 290-1995
  • Email: perfectscoreatc@gmail.com

Image Credit:
Alicia_Jolai

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