There are some things you should consider when choosing a gymnastics gym near you for gymnastics classes or a gymnastics team program. Your needs might vary depending on if your gymnast is just starting out, or is already very serious. For example, a small gym without advanced training tools but with loving, sweet teachers might be perfect for a beginner preschool gymnast, whereas a level 8 will need the proper, advanced equipment and a more experienced coaching staff.
Here are some tips. First:
- Make sure the gymnastics gym is a USA gymnastics member club or AAU Member Club (What is AAU Gymnastics?) . You can check out a list of USA gymnastics member clubs here or a find an AAU Member Club here. USA gymnastics member clubs agree to abide by a certain set of rules or their membership is terminated, so that’s why this is important. Member clubs agree to not employ sex offenders or anybody that has been permanently banned from being a professional USA gymnastics member. USA gymnastics member clubs also agree to have liability insurance. AAU Member clubs are given accident and liability insurance as part of their membership. This is important in case of any kind of injuries occur. You can see the rules USA gymnastics member clubs agree to follow here.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Gymnastics Gym:
- Distance from Home/School: Obviously, the distance from your home and your gymnast’s school is important at any stage of their gymnastic career. But, it becomes more important as your gymnast becomes more serious and increases her hours in the gym. You will have to weigh the advantages of the gyms farther away from you with the amount of time you will spend commuting. Also the friends she will make at the gym will likely live close to the gym and you may end up making the trip even when she doesn’t have practice in order for her to participate in birthday parties and other activities.
- The Coaches & Teaching Staff: Go to the gym and watch the instructors and coaches teaching. Are they hands on and attentive? Are they enthusiastic? Does it appear like they are stressing safety? A great coach or teacher will make all the difference for your child’s gymnastics experience.
- Age Makeup of Class or Team: Investigate whether the class your gymnast will be taking or the team she will be on has kids the same age as your child. Bigger gyms might have more kids of different ages at every level while smaller gyms might not.
- The Equipment: Go to the gym and take a look around. Make sure the gym is clean and that the equipment looks like it’s in good shape. You don’t want to spend your money on gymnastics classes only to have your child practicing on old, unsafe equipment. Also make sure there are plenty of mats under the equipment. Mats are an
important part of gym safety.
- Gymnastics Training Tools: Does the gym have a pit? A trampoline? A tumble-trak? If your child is a high-level gymnast, a pit is essential for learning high level skills safely. Trampolines and tumble traks are also great learning tools and can be lots of fun!
- The Cost: Of course you also need to consider the cost. What are you paying per hour of gym time? A gymnastics class will probably be more straight forward than competitive team. If this is a competitive team, are there any extras that come along with it? What are other costs you will incur throughout the year (competitive gear costs: warm-ups, leotards, etc)? Are meet fees included or will you need to pay those when meet season comes around? Is there a mandatory competitive team camp during the summer and is it included?
- Where do the parents sit when the gymnasts are working out? You will probably feel more comfortable if you can see and watch your child’s class or workout. Knowing that the parents are watching will also keep the coaches on their toes.
- Class/Team Training Times: Do they fit into your schedule? Most gyms have Saturday and after school classes and practice.
- Meet Schedule for Team Gymnasts– If your child is going to be on the gymnastics team, check out the meet schedule from last year. Are the meets local or do they have you traveling to meets? There are pros and cons to consider here. Traveling to meets costs more and takes more time but can expose your gymnast to bigger meets and better competition. This becomes more important for the higher level gymnasts. If you have a beginner gymnast, it’s probably most important that the meet schedule doesn’t require you to exceed your budget and time commitments.
- Extra Programs: Does the gym you are looking at have the programs you want? Are you interested in AAU gymnastics, Cheerleading, Rhythmic gymnastics, Acro gymnastics, Trampoline & Tumbling, Boy’s Competitive gymnastics, Track Out camp, Crossfit or Birthday parties?
I hope these tips help you choose a gymnastics gym. You might choose one that will allow your gymnast to grow with it, or you might choose a gym that will require you to re-evaluate in a couple years. Either way, as long as your gymnast is having a positive experience–that’s what matters!
To help you in your search for the perfect gymnastics gym, GymnasticsHQ has a gym directory. You can search for a gym within a certain number of miles from your house, that has the programs and gymnastics teams you are looking for! Good Luck 🙂