Paredes jumps for joy

Elizabeth Klemm

Junior Alex Paredes is always jumping around – either from school to gymnastics or from a trampoline to 30 feet in the air.

Paredes, of Atlantic Highlands, began practicing gymnastics when she was “little” but did not stick with it at first. She began training once again in fifth grade, when she took a class with a family friend at Head Over Heels in Middletown.

Paredes quickly advanced to a higher level and, within a few months, her coach asked her to be on a team. Paredes remains a member today, but the team has moved to its own gym, Elite Trampoline Academy in Middletown.

Training approximately 20 hours a week, Paredes said schoolwork can be difficult to complete.

“It’s definitely not easy to do it … you just have to be time-management  proficient,” she said.

Despite the difficulties of managing school and trampolining, Paredes said she enjoys her time at the gym. Her love for the sport became concrete “once I started training seriously, at around Level 8, because that’s where you get to do optional, which is a routine where you just get to do your hardest skills.”

The levels in gymnastics range from one to 10, followed by junior and senior elite, Paredes said. She currently competes at junior elite, which is one of two levels that competes internationally.

“I hope to go to a world age group competition in Italy sometime in June,” Paredes said.

Paredes competed at the national level for many years and said her biggest accomplishment was placing fifth out of 80 competitors at the 2013 US Trampoline & Tumbling Championship.

Paredes also said she has learned an important lesson through trampolining.

“You actually have to work hard, and it’s just not going to come to you easy and you can’t be scared. In a sport like gymnastics, you can’t be scared,” Parades said. “Don’t let fear get in the way of anything, and work really hard.”