Olympic gymnast trains at Costa Mesa gym

Olympic gymnast Kyla Ross, 15, from Aliso Viejo, seen at Gym-Max Gymnastics, where she trains.
(Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times)

After winning a gold medal as a member of the U.S. Women’s Olympic gymnastics team in London on Tuesday, Kyla Ross will soon be training again at a gym in Costa Mesa.

Ross, 15, the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, also known as the “Fab Five,” trains at the Gym-Max Academy of Gymnastics.

Ross, an Aliso Viejo native, and fellow Olympian McKayla Maroney, 16, of Long Beach first met as 8-year-olds at the facility on Century Place.

“Seeing both of them go through London together and achieve what they’ve been working toward is spectacular,” said Lenny Liang, 33, who started as an assistant coach at the gym in 2004, about a year before Maroney and Ross began training there.

Maroney and Ross trained together for almost five years before Maroney relocated to a Los Angeles-based gym, Lenny Liang said.

Liang, the son of coaches Howie and Jenny Liang, said he remembers when Ross first walked through the gym’s doors.

She stood out because of her enthusiasm and work ethic, he said.

When the coaches instructed the gymnasts to do a maximum of 10 leg-lift exercises, Ross didn’t just exceeded the maximum, she quadrupled it.

“It was really nice to be working with someone that has that kind of enthusiasm and drive to get things done,” Lenny Liang said.

While Ross puts in about 35 hours of training per week at the gym, she still finds time to encourage and socialize with the other gymnasts, he said.

“They are a very tight-knit group,” he said of the girls who train at the gym. “Some of them went to London to cheer [Ross] on.”

Gym-Max will host a celebration at the end of August when Howie and Jenny Liang and Ross return from London, Lenny Liang said.

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