How It All Began
In this page, you will learn about the 2 decades of experience and dedication to gymnastics leading to the incorporation of Chelsea Gymnastics. The success of Chelsea Gymnastics was only possible because of Stefan's solid educational background, his motivational and inspirational gymnastics journey, as well as his opportunity to learn from experts, and contribute to the development of other clubs prior to the incorporation of Chelsea Gymnastics.
Chelsea Gymnastics Academy was founded by Dr Stefan Kolimechkov in June 2022, in England, United Kingdom. The Academy is the successor of Stefan's sole trade gymnastics coaching business, STK SPORT. The main objective of Chelsea Gymnastics is to bring bespoke gymnastics to the community in homes and studios in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London.
Although Chelsea Gymnastics is only 1.5 year old company, the real spirit of its true purpose was born two decades ago. Chelsea Gymnastics Academy is the end product of Stefan's vast practical and academic experience of 20 years in the sport of gymnastics. Watch the video below, in which our virtual assistant Chelsea will tell you more about the story behind the formation of Chelsea Gymnastics.
The Story of Chelsea Gymnastics Academy
Don't Give Up on your dream
The story of Chelsea Gymnastics starts with the story of Stefan Kolimechkov. So let's go back in time and start from the beginning. Gymnastics has always been Stefan's greatest passion in life. Although he has never been an elite athlete (the ones who are paid to represent their club or country in professional competitions), we consider his achievements to be quite significant based on the circumstances that he had a condition in which the top of the thigh bone in the hip joint softens and stops functioning at young age (known as Perthes disease), and he had been told by physicians not to participate in any physical activities. Moreover, Stefan was even prevented from participating in physical education classes at school for a considerable amount of time. However, inspired and motivated individuals know that when there is nothing to lose, you can only win! And as the American business magnate Steve Jobs put it, 'you are already naked and there is no reason not to follow your heart': from disability at a young age to taking part at the national level of the professional sport. Never Give Up! And he didn't!
Stefan started training in artistic gymnastics at the end of 2002 and the skills he acquired, as well as the body transformation he experienced, were all priceless. Although Stefan was already 15 years of age (which is considered very late to start a sport, such as gymnastics), and often people tried to denigrate his desire to progress, step-by-step, gymnastics became a major part of his life. The star was born, and the passion for gymnastics was evident. This passion would then transform into dedication to coach gymnastics, research the benefits behind it, and eventually, form the Chelsea Gymnastics Academy. Stefan's first official competition as a gymnast was in 2007, competing for a club in the country he was born, Bulgaria. Stefan's best individual result was the winning of the 4th place in the National Mens Rings Final in the 2012 Bulgarian Gymnastics Championships, competing for his university team in Bulgaria. Stefan is also a three-time London rings champion, multiple adult/veteran champion on different apparatuses, and he had the opportunity to compete together with some of his favourite elite idols, such as the gymnasts Jordan Jovchev, Yuri van Gelder and Courtney Tulloch. Stefan should be proud of these achievements, considering the fact that the physicians once told him that he would not even be able to do sports because of his hip problem, and national coaches told him that there was no point in even starting to do gymnastics as it was already too late. We understand that not everyone can achieve a gold medal, but actually, everyone can be a winner! Yes, everyone, and our message to you is: Don't Give Up on your dream!
Never Stop Learning
One of Stefan's greatest lifetime goals was to attain the highest possible level of degree worldwide, the PhD degree. On 30th of May 2018, at the age of 30, Stefan defended his PhD thesis, and he was admited to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Later that year, he was awarded his PhD certificate. At that very moment, one dream came true. But let's go back in time and start a few years earlier. Stefan started demonstrating a genuine interest in science and scientific work many years ago during his four-year course for a Bachelor's Degree in Sports and Physical Education at the National Sports Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Stefan's first assignment, entitled: 'The Importance of Selection in Artistic Gymnastics', enjoyed great success and was judged to be the best out of all of the submissions of his fellow students. Moreover, lecturers from the Gymnastics Department agreed that, in the following years, Stefan's work should be presented to all other first-year students as a brilliant examplar.
Amongst Stefan's favourite subjects at university were: Functional Anatomy, Biochemistry, Biomechanics and the Analysis of Sports Techniques, Sports Medicine, Physiology, Physiotherapy, Psychology, and the Theory and Methods of Sports Training. His growing motivation and interests were stimulated by warm comments and friendly encouragement from teachers and lecturers in different departments at the Sports Academy. Some lecturers highlighted Stefan's diligence, which can be witnessed in his very highly praised notebooks with colourful diagrams and illustrations.
Stefan's first significant achievement was related to his coursework at the Gymnastics Department of the National Sports Academy in 2011. After being supported and guided by his supervisor, Associate Professor Ilia Kiuchukov, Ph.D. (featured on the photo), Stefan gave an excellent presentation of his coursework, and he was handsomely rewarded with the following statement, made by Professor Nikola Hadjiev, D.Sc.:
'Dear colleagues, this is a wonderful example of a coursework, very well illustrated, and it has been presented in a magical way. We’ve known this student (Stefan) for 4 years from our lectures, and I suggest that we should award an excellent mark of the highest category. Congratulations! It has been a real pleasure for us.'
Professor Nikola Hadjiev (1936-2014), Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, was one of Stefan's lecturers at the National Sports Academy. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) between 1976-1992, and its first Vice-President from 1980 to 1984. Professor Hadjiev was the rector of the National Sports Academy between 1979 and 1987, and the President of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation for a period of 20 years (1970-1990). He is an author of more than 130 scientific publications, 27 books, textbooks and other scientific materials.
After the success of his coursework, the paper was extended into a dissertation. In June 2011, Stefan successfully defended his Bachelor's dissertation, entitled 'Comparative kinematic analysis of the dismounts - double back straight somersault and double back straight somersault with 360° twist on the men's still rings', and after passing his state exams, he was awarded a First-Class Honours Bachelor's Degree in two majors (Sport and Physical Education).
During his time of study at the National Sports Academy, Stefan attended department conferences, scientific workshops and annual conferences with the participation of delegates from around the world, all of which were of great interest to him.
In 2012, Stefan directed his interests towards nutrition and physical fitness, which are crucial factors affecting human health. His Master's dissertation focussed on the assessment of the diet of pre-school and young school children who were engaged in artistic gymnastics. For this scientific project, Stefan was guided by Dr Lubomir Petrov, Ph.D. from the Department of Biochemistry and Physiology at the National Sports Academy, and thanks to Dr Petrov's expertise and support, Stefan's dissertation enjoyed great success and it was awarded the highest possible mark. After what was judged to be an excellent dissertation defence in front of the Department of Physical Education at the National Sports Academy, scoring a GPA over the entire course of Excellent 5.94, and after collecting 62 credits (1410 hours & dissertation defence), at the end of 2012 Stefan Kolimechkov officially obtained his Master’s degree in Physical Education from the National Sports Academy in Bulgaria. The university has a good reputation for physical education and sports science studies, and the training structures and programmes for obtaining a degree in physical education and teacher qualifications are entirely in compliance with the European standards and requirements.
At the end of his Master's degree, Stefan was strongly encouraged by his supervisors and other lecturers from the University to consider doing a PhD. In the beginning, he looked at this as an interesting opportunity, and after a while, this idea grew up into a lifetime goal. In 2013, his first publication, entitled Assessment of the Physical Development of Pre-school and Primary school Children practising Artistic Gymnastics, appeared in the Bulgarian journal Sport & Science. In 2014, Stefan started preparing a project proposal for a Doctoral Thesis. The next year he submitted a proposal to the National Sports Academy in Bulgaria, and in July 2015, Stefan was officially enrolled for a three-year distant learning PhD degree in Physical Education. The participants for his PhD thesis included primary school children from gymnastics clubs in England and Bulgaria.
In 2016, Stefan and his supervisors published another article which appeared in the African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences. At the beginning of 2017, Stefan was awarded the Registered Scientist status (RSci) by the Science Council in the UK and its professional body BASES. After that, Stefan published his first article as a lead and only author in the European Journal of Physical Education and Sport Science, and he was invited to join the Editorial Board of this international journal. In June 2017, Stefan was officially recognised as a Certified Exercise Practitioner by the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). In September 2017, Stefan was accepted as a FIEP New Leader, and he went to Luxembourg to represent his scientific team at the 12th FIEP European Congress, where he gave a poster presentation on his study entitled BeepShuttle: Software for assessing the cardiorespiratory fitness of children and adolescents. In November 2017, Stefan participated at the UK's top event in sport and exercise sciences, which was the BASES Conference 2017 in Nottingham, where he presented a study on handgrip strength in children in the poster sessions. In December 2017, Stefan gave a presentation on physical activity assessment in the parallel sessions of the First International Congress of Applied Sports Sciences in Sofia, which marked 75 years since the establishment of the National Sports Academy in Bulgaria. This was an astonishing moment for Stefan, because he started as a Bachelor student at the very same university, and during the following few years he also attended its international conferences. Stefan was always inspired by the many scientists whose talks he had the pleasure and privilege to listen to, and then in 2017, he had the honour of being chosen as a delegate and, in this capacity, presented his own study.
In 2018, one dream came true! This year was probably the most successful year in Stefan's life. On the 30th of May 2018, at the age of 30, Stefan was officially admitted to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), and in November 2018, he was awarded his PhD certificate. It was Stefan's honor to present his Doctoral Thesis in front of an audience, including the Scientific Jury for this Official PhD Defence, lecturers and researchers from 3 Departments of the National Sports Academy (Biochemistry and Physiology, Gymnastics, and Physical Education), as well as parents of the gymnasts he coached, and some of the gymnasts themselves. Throughout 2018, Stefan published 3 articles in international peer-reviewed journals as a lead or co-author. In July 2018, Stefan was given the honorary position of the Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Physical Education and Sport Science (ISSN 2501 - 1235). In September 2018, he presented the combined sets of European physical fitness percentile scores for children and adolescents for the Alpha-fit test battery at the 13th FIEP European Congress in Istanbul, Turkey. In November 2018, Stefan рrеѕеntеd preliminary findings from a study on physical fitness of young artistic gymnasts from Bulgaria at the parallel sessions of the UK's top event in sport and exercise sciences, BASES Conference 2018 in Harrogate.
In 2019, Stefan published 5 articles in international peer-reviewed journals and 2 articles in conference proceedings as lead or co-author. In July 2019, he participated at the biggest and most prestigious event in sports science in Europe, the ECSS Congress. At this Congress Stefan presented findings from a study on body composition and nutrient intake of elite rhythmic gymnasts from Bulgaria. This has been his top event in which he had a chance to present research to date. In February 2020, Stefan published his first article as a co-author in British Impact Factor journal. On the whole, he published 5 articles in international peer-reviewed journals throughout 2020. Stefan also presented research at the virtual ECSS Anniversary Congress in October 2020. 8 years after he moved to live in the UK, at the age of 33, Stefan accomplished one of his lifetime goals, he obtained his British citizenship. Stefan's official ceremony was held at the Woolwich Town Hall (headquarters of the Greenwich London Borough Council) in London on the 19th of November 2020.
Stefan has taken part in multidisciplinary research in sport and exercise sciences, including health-related physical fitness of children and adolescents practising artistic gymnastics; nutritional assessments of young artistic gymnasts and elite rhythmic gymnasts; body composition of elite rhythmic gymnasts; changes in heart rate and blood lactate concentration in elite female and male karate competitors; physical activity assessments; application of hypoxicators in elite rowers; erythrocyte oxidative status after maximal aerobic test in wrestlers; sports tools to assess aerobic fitness in children and adults, to name but a few.
His research is published in different international peer-reviewed journals, such as the International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching (IF 1.253), Science of Gymnastics Journal, Human. Sport. Medicine, Pedagogy of Physical Culture and Sports, and others. Stefan presented scientific research at many international academic conferences in sport and exercise sciences around the world, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Finland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
Teaching and Coaching Experience
Throughout the years, Stefan worked in Bulgaria (at the Levski Gymnastics Club, between 2008 and 2012) and in the UK (at the Elite Gymnastics Academy CIC, between 2013 and 2020), and he coached hundreds of children, many of whom took part in gymnastics competitions. With passion for gymnastics and lots of hard work, many of his gymnasts won certificates and medals from club, regional and national gymnastics competitions in Bulgaria and the UK. A special sub-section of his STK SPORT website has been dedicated to those events and performances, and you can access it by clicking here. In 2014 Stefan obtained the Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) from the Department of Education in the United Kingdom. In addition to coaching for the Elite GA, he also worked as a gymnastics teacher, once a week, at St Edmund's Primary School in London from January 2015 until July 2018. Moreover, Stefan volunteered as a Physical Education Assistant at this school for those 3.5 years, and some of the children participated in the control group for his PhD research. Stefan was featured twice in the school newsletter, and the Year 1 and Year 2 gymnastics school teams won 3rd places at the Borough Gymnastics Festival, which was their best finish to date! During this time, Stefan was also building his personal gymnastics training business, STK SPORT, running his own coaching services for private clients and schools here in London.
Stefan is grateful that he has had the chance to teach so many children and to provide them with the skills and knowledge that he had learned as a gymnast, but also he had the chance to learn from them and to develop as a gymnastics coach, personal trainer, and to be the person that he is today.
This is Stefan's gymnast (David, 7) on Parallel Bars
In the video above you can watch one of Stefan's best gymnasts, David, performing his gymnastics routine on Parallel bars at the 2012 Bulgarian Gymnastics Championships. David won the silver medal in this National competition, and became the Parallel Bars Vice-Champion of Bulgaria at the age of 7. This was a huge success as he competed with more than 100 other gymnasts from the best gymnastics clubs in Bulgaria at the age category between 7 and 10 years.
Stefan's boys squad (Levski GC) at the Bulgarian Championships in 2009
Stefan's general and advanced boys squads at Levski GC (Bulgaria) in 2010
Stefan's boys squad (Levski GC) at the Qualifications for the Bulgarian Championships in 2010
Video of Stefan's gymnast (Viktor) on Rings at the Bulgarian Cup in 2011
Stefan's gymnast (David) about to perform on the Horizontal Bar at the Bulgarian Cup 2011
Stefan's gymnast (Vassil) was ranked 4th in Bulgaria on Vault at the National Championships in 2011
At the National Championships in Bulgaria in 2011
Viktor on Parallel Bars at the International Gymnastics Tournament 'Solachky' in 2011
Winning medals at their first international competition (8th International Gymnastics Tournament 'Solachky') in Bulgaria in 2011
This is a video with some of the skills that Stefan and his gymnasts worked on in 2011
Gymnastics Show, Stefan and his gymnasts in 2011
Stefan is awarding his gymnasts with certificates at their Gymnastics Show in 2011
This is a short video from the Gymnastics Show 2011, which was organised by Stefan to provide opportunities for all children to perform in front of their parents
Amongst the all lovely presents that Stefan has received by his gymnasts and their parents, the cup 'I Love My Coach' given by David Shaumian, age of 8, and parents (Dessy & Erik) has become the greatest one ever. At the age of 7, David won a silver medal from the 2012 Bulgarian Gymnastics Championships. He performed an astonishing routine on Parallel bars and became a Vice-Champion with score of 19.600, just 0.1 after the gold medalist. It is a remarkable success as the competition for his age group (Boys Under the age of 10) included around 100 of the best gymnasts from all over the country. We would like to say Thank you so much to Stefan's best gymnast David and his lovely family for their dedication, care and love through all these years! Sofia, Bulgaria, 2012
Giving instructions to Viktor and the rest of his squad on Pommel Horse at the Qualifications for the National Championships in 2012
Stefan and his gymnastics squad after the Qualifications for the National Championships in 2012
David performed a fantastic gymnastics routine on the Horizontal Bar at the Bulgarian Cup 2012
Stefan with his gymnasts and their parents after the National Championships, 2012
Viktor won a certificate on Pommel Horse for his 5th place at the National Championships in Bulgaria in 2012
Winning medals at the 9th International Gymnastics Tournament 'Solachky' in Bulgaria in 2012
And here it is... Stefan's last event at Levski GC, the club he grew up, and the club he coached for 5 years. This event was very special for Stefan and for many of the gymnasts and parents too. For a second year, Stefan organised the Gymnastics Show in which parents have the chance to see their children performing gymnastics for fun, without the stress from competitions, as well as a chance to learn about the findings of Stefan's study (as part of his Master's degree) on physical development and nutrition of young gymnasts. It was also the last sports event for Stefan, as he is about to move to the UK.
'Dear parents, gymnasts and colleagues, as you may already know, I am moving to London, therefore I would like to say thank you so much for being not just clients, but friends, good friends and I feel many of you as a family. I know I will miss you very much, that's why I have done my best to make you love this sport the way that I do. It has been all done for you, for your children, for us, to remember and be proud of what has been achieved.'
Yours in Sport , coach Stefan Kolimechkov
In December 2012, in Stefan's last year at the Levski GC, Mr Prodanov (president of Levski GC & ex-president of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation) and Mrs Stanka Pavlova (honorary national coach & Sports Director of Levski GC) gave him a special award for outstanding contribution to the club and the local community. Stefan had a fantastic time in the club, coaching gymnastics while studying for his Bachelor's and Masters degrees at the National Sports Academy in Bulgaria. During these 5 years (2008-2012) Stefan was mentored by university experts in gymnastics and sports science, as well as one of the best gymnastics coaches in the country, Mr Pandezov and Mrs Pavlova.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
Coming to London was one of Stefan's life time goals, so he planned everything in advance and secured a position in a gymnastics club way before travelling to the UK. The club was called Elite Gymnastics (later renamed Elite Gymnastics Academy CIC, or just Elite GA), based in Edmonton, North London. Stefan coached boys and girls in pre-school, general, and artistic gymnastics at this club from 2013 to 2020, and he also competed as a gymnast, winning 3 London Rings Gold medals, and multiple other medals from gymnastics competitions for master athletes. From 2015 to 2018, Stefan was also working as a gymnastics coach at the local school, St Edmund's Primary School.
Here Stefan is in his first year in the UK, training on the Rings at the East London Gymnastics Centre in 2013
Coaching at the Elite Gymnastics Club in Edmonton, London, 2014
Stefan's boys squad (Elite GC) at the London Regional Gymnastics Championships in 2014
Video from the performance of Stefan's boys squad (Elite Gymnastics Academy) at the London Regional Championships in 2014
Coaching General Gymnastics to a group of students at the Elite Gymnastics Club, London, 2014
Performing a japanese handstand (in the middle) together with his gymnasts Blake and Masson from the Elite Gymnastics Club to popularise gymnastics at Hadley Wood Primary School in London, 2014
Performing gymnastics together with his boys squad (Elite Gymnastics Club) at Edmonton Leisure Centre, London, 2014
Christmas Club Competition at the Elite Gymnastics Club in Edmonton, London, 2014
Christmas Presents from Stefan's gymnasts including the amazing t-shirt - 'Stef. Gymnast, Coach, Legend', December 2014
Video from Stefan's Personal Gymnastics Coaching at the East London Gymnastics Centre with gymnast Matthew K. from Australia in 2015
Stefan (coaching for the Elite Gymnastics Club) at the London Regional Gymnastics Championships, Europa Gymnastics Centre in 2015
Children from Stefan's after school club at St Edmund's won 3rd place at the Borough Gymnastics Festival, and our success was featured on the website of St Edmund's Primary School in London, 2016
Year 5 and 6 children from the after school club run by Stefan at St Edmund's Primary School, competed at the Borough Gymnastics Festival in 2016
Supporting his gymnast Kiril (Elite Gymnastics Academy) on Parallel Bars at the London Regional Championships in 2016
With his gymnasts Kiril (left) and Matthew (right) from the Elite Gymnastics Academy winning medals at the London Regional Championships in 2016
Stefan is performing gymnastics in front of school children to inspire more students to join his after school club at St Edmund's Primary School in London, 2017
Together with the coaches from Basingstoke GC who took part in Stefan's PhD research with some of their gymnasts, Basingstoke, England, 2017
Stefan's gymnast (Fergus) representing the Elite Gymnastics Academy won gold medals on Floor and Vault (at the open category, over the age of 16) from the London Regional Championships in 2017
With his gymnasts Matthew (left) and Fergus (right) winning medals for the Elite Gymnastics Academy at the London Gymnastics Championships in 2017
Teaching artistic gymnastics at the Elite Gymnastics Academy CIC, London, 2018
After the successful defence of Stefan's PhD thesis on nutrition and physical fitness of children practising gymnastics, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the National Sports Academy in Bulgaria in 2018
With his gymnasts William and Matthew (left) from the Elite Gymnastics Academy, together with fitnes coach Pioter and gymnastics judge Damon at the London Gymnastics Championships in 2019
Presenting a study on body composition and nutrition of the Olympic rhythmic gymnasts from Bulgaria at the ECSS Congress in Prague in 2019
Teaching gymnastics at the Elite Gymnastics Academy CIC in London during the COVID pandemic in 2020
At the end of 2020, Stefan took the decision to leave his part-time role at the Elite Gymnastics Academy in order to concentrate on his passions in life (involvement in scientific research in the UK, and building up his personal training consultancy business). Thank you to Olga Berzing, the manager of the Elite GA, for the opportunities she provided for Stefan at her club, to learn and grow as a gymnastics coach.
Overall, as a gymnast, Stefan represented the Elite Gymnastics Academy in 15 competitions, (4 internationals, 4 regionals, and 7 for masters athletes), ranked 14th at the International Men's London Open in 2013 and 2016, and won 3 gold medals at the London Championships in 2015, 2016 and 2017, as well as multiple medals from gymnastics competitions for master athletes in England. As a coach, Stefan contributed to the development of children involved in pre-school, general, and women's artistic gymnastics, and the gymnasts from his boy's squads won multiple medals at club and regional artistic gymnastics competitions. Stefan also performed gymnastics together with his students from the Elite GA on multiple occasions in order to popularise the sport at schools and sports centers. Perhaps, the top achievements in our gymnastics competitions were made by Blake (Vault Champion in London at the NDP Artistic Gymnastics Club Grades in 2014) and Fergus (Floor Champion in London at the NDP Artistic Gymnastics Club Grades in 2014, and Floor and Vault Champion in London at the 2017 London Artistic Gymnastics Championships).
Presenting a study on the pre-competitive stress levels in rhythmic gymnasts at the ACSM virtual conference in 2021
In June 2022, having had all of the experience outlined above, Stefan incorporated Chelsea Gymnastics Academy in England.
So, that was the story of 2 decades of experience and dedication towards gymnastics, which led to the formation of Chelsea Gymnastics. Now, click the button below to find out more about the achievements of Chelsea Gymnastics after its incorporation until nowadays.