The biggest GYM Center of Benelux States
  is opened:

German version



Marc Schoenmaekers  
in GYMmedia interview

“Now it should be only logical that we will produce European and world champions in the future... At least, we no longer have an excuse if we don’t, considering the training conditions we have now.!”
Marc Schoenmaekers, president of the Vlaamse Turnliga VTL (Flemish Gymnastics Federation), on the occasion of the opening of the largest and most modern gymnastics center of the Benelux countries in Gent, host of the 2001 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
The grand opening of the „Topgymnastiekhal“ on the evening of Friday, 29 June 2001 was attended by over 300 guests.

Two years ago, it was only an idea. Once the decision to go ahead had been taken and the project was financially secured, the training center was built in just eight months. The state of the art facility caters to the needs of artistic and rhythmic gymnasts as well as sports acrobats, and is proof of the VTL’s desire to climb the ranks of world gymnastics.


For Dutch apparatus manufacturer Janssen&Fritsen, official supplier of the upcoming world championships to be held in the same town, this was their largest project ever.

"The special technical know how, and I’m referring particularly to the many original and innovative solutions, like training aides attached to the roof, is due to our excellent relations with the VTL, which will be in charge of the center as well as the local experts and people who will be training here", said the company’s president, Jac Janssen. “I was particularly impressed by how quickly decisions were taken and their almost immediate implementation. We then made sure the whole project was financially feasible."


Mr. Jac Janssen (li) and his wife
VTL Chief Schoenmaekers (right)


It is a well known fact that artistic and rhythmic gymnastics are sports 
that need a particular infrastructure. Artistic gymnastics is a precious sporting good that should be invested in.

Top results in the gymnastics disciplines are indicative of the cultural level of a sporting nation. They express the humane and pedagogic upbringing of children and young people, long-term educational programs and qualified strategies for vocational training.

The opening ceremony hinted at the ambitious goals the Vlaamse Turnliga has set itself with this new training center.

Prior to the opening of the center, four partners had met at a round table: The Belgian sports organization Bloso, the region of East Flanders, the city of Gent and the VTL:

  • The agreement to build a top range sporting center was reached on September 15, 2000

  • Construction work began in November 2000

  • Janssen & Fritsen began working on the interior of the building in Mai 2001

  • The center was opened on 29 June 2001

The total cost of the center is approximately 67 million BEF (about 3,25 million DM).

The cost was reduced by an intelligent concept - the center cooperates closely with the Bloso Topsporthal Vlaanderen - venue of the 35th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

This impressive complex is part of  the sports and leisure center "de Blaarmeersen" which also includes facilities for rowing and canoeing, tennis courts and large areas of green. The construction of "House of Sports", which is to house all sports federations, is imminent and in 2002 a sports hotel will be built.

GYM center, right behind the  Bloso Sports Center


Interesting terms of usage
There are specific times and terms for elite sports: artistic gymnastics, acrobatics and tumbling. Rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline are to follow soon.

The center is divided into 18 individual zones.
The zones can be rented for 30 minute sessions for eight athletes and one qualified coach/instructor by clubs of different levels. The flat rate per zone is 50 BEF (=1,25 €), i.e. 5 sessions of 2,5 hrs cost 250 BEF = 5,25 €. A club that trains 4 times a week (26x4) will have to pay around 100 € per month, i.e. 12,50 € per athlete (about 25 DM).

A season ticket for elite athletes costs 10,000 BEF (about 485 DM = 248 €). National team members may train free of charge. Locally and regionally based groups only pay 80% of the flat rate. Groups belonging the VTL only pay 70% of the flat rate.

The coordinator
Starting in September, a full-time Bloso official will coordinate and implement the terms of usage for the center.

During July and August, "open days" with free training sessions, clinics and exhibitions will give school groups, PE teachers and students a feel for the center. Their aim is to make gymnastics more popular and give teachers an incentive to include it in PE classes regularly.

Beginning with October 20, the center will be turned into the warm-up and training gym for the 35th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships by Janssen & Fritsen, official suppliers of the world championships, since touch warm-ups have been eliminated by decision of the FIG Council. 

(E. Herholz / Translation: Nora Schuler)


    WM-Service Ghent 2001