Please note: the following history was written as part of our 50th Birthday Celebrations in 2010

Once upon a time, when Calisthenics was known as the Girls’ Rythmic League, aesthetic was known as ‘plastic art’ and rods were made of timber, a small club was formed.

From humble beginnings in 1960, when there were only 6 clubs in the ‘league’ – who would have thought that in 2010, with 15 clubs in the state, that Applecross Calisthenics Club would be one of the biggest clubs of the Calisthenics Association of Western Australia and the oldest surviving competing club in the state.

In the beginning, classes were held at the Mount Pleasant Uniting Church and our first president was Mrs Alison Plester. Under the guidance of our coach, Mrs Shirley Sampey, classes then moved to the Applecross District Hall, opposite the Raffles Hotel (which is now known as the Tivoli Theatre).

Over the years the club stayed in the Applecross area, training at the Rowing Club Hall, Canning Bridge and Mount Pleasant Primary School. In the 1980’s the club started training at the Kardinya Uniting Church Hall, which then saw the move to our current ‘home base’, North Lake Senior Campus. Since establishing North Lake as the main training venue for the club, members have been drawn from many suburbs further south.

Competition locations have also varied over the years. Before moving to our very own Swan Park Theatre, Midvale in 1990, some of our competition venues included John Curtin Senior High School, Claremont Teachers College and Mirrabooka Senior High School.

The club has made it through some tough times. As numbers became low in 1989 Applecross, Victoria Park and Hills Districts amalgamated to form an Intermediate team. Although the club reinstated an inter team in 1992, during the late 1990’s our numbers again dropped dangerously low and as a result, saw our inters amalgamate once again in 1999, but this time with Riverton.

Following this all time low, the committee worked hard to re-build the club. The turning point was a suggestion from the CAWA president at the time, to not only campaign and re-establish an Intermediate team, but strive for a Senior team. This would mean the club would potentially have access to more coaches and would consequently become less dependent on other clubs to recruit coaching staff. In 2002 we were able to reform our Senior team after an absence of over 10 years.

Even though the club has gone through some rough patches over the years, numerous newspapers clippings highlight that Applecross has always been a successful club at a State championship level and over the years, has produced many State Team representatives and Graceful Girl champions.

After a short time stay in ‘A’ Grade with our subbie team in 1995 & 1996, the last decade has seen the club make the transition from ‘B’ Grade to ‘A’ Grade in subbies, juniors and inters – a great achievement.

Another ‘first’ which also proved to be a very special club achievement in 2008, was when our Intermediate team travelled to Ballarat to compete in The Royal South Street Society Eisteddfod and placed 1st in Division 3. The club continues to celebrate many wonderful achievements and a high standing within the Association, with strong representation at all levels of competition.

In the early years Calisthenics was described as a means for young ladies to learn grace, poise, rhythm and timing, which is the foundation of many artistic sports. In fact, an old newspaper article states “girls generally make better gymnasts, if they receive some training in callisthenics or ballet”.

Calisthenics continues to provide an artistic sport for participants, which promotes grace, rhythm and confidence, but it also promotes family involvement in the sport, through the many volunteering aspects, both at a club and association level. These family involvements have often led to life long friendships. The club prides itself on being a family orientated club… we aim to provide the complete Calisthenics experience, within a caring and supportive environment and with an emphasis on enjoyment.

Our Club camp is a highlight of the calendar year and has become a strong tradition. Over the years, we have visited Point Peron, Rockingham in 1993, Araluen from 1994 – 2000, and since 2001 we have found a new camp base in Serpentine.

Camp provides a unique opportunity for all club members and families to get together. The day is filled with hours of training and sewing. Countless hours have been spent sewing nylon aesthetic skirts and sequins by hand – thank goodness we now have ‘sparkling’ lycra, glitter glue and talented costume coordinators to make life easier!

Camp is not only important for the training calendar, but the social calendar as well. Activities throughout the day provide a relaxing break for the girls between training times… and as the night rolls in, the fun really kicks in with dancing competitions, movies or even a disco. As well as providing much enjoyment, these activities also help to keep out the winter chills, but above all, provide an opportunity for everyone to take time to get to know each other and build new and existing friendships.

Hard work continues in the sewing department for most of the night but with a more relaxed atmosphere, dorm patrols are conducted to ensure the girls don’t stay up too late and the social chit-chat between coaches and mums continues well into the night. It is not unheard of to forget what time it is and end up in bed at 5am with the girls waking up at 6. In fact we have heard that one past president is still yet to fall asleep at camp!

After training hard all weekend, the girls put on a wonderful concert for the parents. Prior to the concert all of the girls from subbies through to seniors get together to do a ‘whole club warm-up’ – this is really a sight to behold… all of the girls in club leotards, working together and then performing for each other.

Applecross has flourished for the last 50 years, mainly due to the fact that we are fortunate to have an amazing support network – the life blood of our club. Beautiful performers, talented and passionate coaches, hard working and responsible cadets, caring and well organised team managers, creative costume coordinators, supportive families and a hard working and enthusiastic committee – all working together to provide a Calisthenics’ experience we hope that all club members will value as they remember their time spent at the club. The hard work is reflected in our beautiful performers, who make us proud every time they step onto the stage.

We acknowledge that in telling this history, we may have only scratched the surface of what lies in the past. We would welcome any contributions as we continue to add to and build the story that is – Applecross Calisthenics Club.