The bar is already set high for those pursuing professional gymnastics, but Cody Tengler is up for the challenge. The 20-year-old Brighton resident, who has been swinging from the skill rings since he was 5, recently had a successful audition with Cirque du Soleil.
Tengler’s passion for gymnastics started when his parents enrolled him in gymnastics as a way for their son to burn off his extra energy.
“He was bouncing off the walls, and we found this little gymnastics place right down the street,” said his father, Nick. “And we thought, ‘Hey, we’ll let him do cartwheels and some front rolls and it will be good for him.’”
On his first day at ABC Gymnastics in Marine City, Mich., Nick received a phone call from the owner asking him to come back to the gym to talk. He remembers the owner called Cody over to show him how his son was able to pull himself all the way up on the skill rings.
“The owner turns to me and said, ‘Your son is freaky strong, I just want to work with him.’ He said, ‘I won’t even charge you, I just want to work with him.’ So we let him work with him for a few months, and of course we didn’t feel right, so we started paying for it and he trained at this gym for one year,” Nick said. “The next year, he competed at the Michigan State Gymnastic Tournament as a men’s all-round gymnast and he finished third in the state in all round. So then we kind of realized we have something here.”
It wasn’t until he was 8 that Cody decided he wanted to pursue gymnastics professionally. He remembered seeing Cirque du Soleil on the television and said something about it caught his eye and that’s when he decided it was what he wanted to do.
The Tenglers relocated to Colorado nearly a decade ago because of the gymnastics programs available in the Denver area. Pursuing his dream wasn’t always easy for Cody, as he endured injuries and bullying along the way. He said while he was in elementary and middle school, his peers would make fun of him but that it only made him want to do gymnastics more.
“When I went to the gym that was my safe zone. When I’m at the gym I don’t have to think about anything else in the world. I’m just there to train, I let my mind go and I just focus on training,” he said.
Last month, Cody flew to Las Vegas to pursue his dream of performing wit Cirque du Soleil and was among 65 individuals to audition for the troupe. At the end of the audition, Cody received a letter from the company telling him he was selected to be in their database of pre-screened performers.
Now he’s in their database, when they find a role in an upcoming production that fits his techniques and abilities, they’ll be contacting him, he’ll fly to Montreal, Canada, then he’ll train for up to four months for an upcoming role and a potential contract with the company,” Nick said.
Cody said it was like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders, and Nick said Cody making it through the audition process validated the caliber of his abilities. Cody described the audition as an “experience of a lifetime” but said, unfortunately, it’s now a waiting process — one that could take weeks, months or even a year.
In the meantime, Cody will continue his training, working as a coach for Cheer Central and working for his father. He said he couldn’t imagine life without gymnastics.
“It’s been a part of my whole life. I couldn’t see myself not tumbling or helping anyone,” he said. “What it really comes down to is the passion... and all this hard work. I don’t want it to go to waste, I actually want to make something of it — actually pay my parents back in a way.”