For Parents Brand new and worried about choosing the wrong gym

AlexandraU16

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Hi everyone. I am a brand new gymnastics mom. I know nothing about the sport except from my two years recreational classes when I was five and from watching the Olympics.
My three and a half year old just started classes at a The Little Gym franchise and a few classes in I’m wondering if I made the wrong choice. It’s a three year old class but the other children are just recently turned three year olds and are not doing anything close to what she is. Her first class she was up on the higher beam in releve without help and doing front rolls and almost able to do backwards rolls. She was obsessed with the bars and rings and was able to hang from both in an L and was flipping up and around the bar like a crazy monkey. She’s been doing bridges and practicing handstands at home on her own.
I didn’t initially enroll her in a more “serious gym”- one that has a competitive track etc because I was worried about whether that environment is a healthy one for such a young child and whether it’s necessary for her to develop strong gymnastics skills.
But after watching The Little Gym classes I wonder how many true gymnastics skills she will be learning there. She loves it and I don’t want to switch her without reason so I just thought I’d ask more experienced gymnastics parents what their thoughts are on choosing a gym and what the environments are like in a more traditional gym etc.
Thanks so much everyone.
 

AlexandraU16

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At three years old, technical quality of coaching is more or less irrelevant. What's important is for her to develop a passion for athletics and to generally have a good time
Of course thanks! I guess I was thinking if she ends up loving it and progresses it might be easier to already be in a gym that allows that and to make a change before she’s been at her current one a long time?
my main goal is definitely to develop a love for athletics and work on some kinesthetic awareness and social skills.
 

PreciousJ

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You can always check out more traditional gyms nearby about toddler/"mommy and me" classes they may offer. I don't know anything about the area you live in, but these types of classes are pretty common and you may be able to find such gyms easily. Good programs, and good coaches, will be able to spot talented kids no matter what/when. Right now, I say let her have fun where she is. Too soon, IMO, to worry about progression (there is plenty to worry about in gymnastics, no need to start that yet :)).
 

rlm's mom

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Welcome to the crazy world of gym parents! Something to think about; your daughter would only want to begin competing JO level 3 at age 6 (wouldn't recommend earlier). If she would do level 2 or bronze maybe some would compete already at 5 but its totally unnecessary imo. So even if you wanted your daughter to go the competitive route she would have at least 2 years until she could compete. Relax!!
From experience one of my DD started gymnastics at 4.5 and did about a year of rec, a year of pre-team and competed level 3 just before her 7th birthday. She's 13 now and a level 10. It's been a long journey and you just have to take it as it comes. The only thing she can do at that age is enjoy it!
 

gym_dad32608

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I concur with some of the earlier posters, at 3, as long as she is having fun, and developing a love of the sport, I would leave her there. While checking out other gyms sounds simple enough, it becomes a slippery slope of constantly worrying about something better. It really is unnecessary at this age. My 2 cents, stay there, enjoy the pure joy of it till she is 5, re-assess where you are at then and then decided if it is a time to move to another more competitive gym.
 

mom2newgymnast

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I agree with the other, let her have fun! :) And fwiw my daughter started at that type of gym (I think it was MyGym but same idea) She was there about a year and loved it. She started in a regular class and then moved to an advanced preschool class. When she was 4 1/2 or so we moved to our local gym. She did a preschool class, an advanced preschool class and then was chosen for training group (aka preteam). She was competing level 2 by the time she was 6. She’s 13 now and training level 10. So I don’t think it held her back at all. :)
 

3cats

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My daughter was at a strictly rec gym until right before she started KG. And she was competing level 3 by 1st grade. I love that she started at a super fun gym with no pressure to move on or up. Bc once she started at the competitive gym the pressure starts to build. I think you have the right idea. But others are correct in that one day you may be ready to move her. So asking around and visiting other gyms is a good idea. But at 3 she has years before you have to really worry.
 
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Canadian Gym Mom

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If your daughter is already practicing handstands and bridges, I would want to make sure she is learning "a bit" of technique to make sure she doesn't get hurt. If she is not getting that at her current gym, I would try another one when her current session is over. No rush though, but four could be a good time to start learning a bit more basics for a child that seems already physically agile. As long as it stays fun!
 

ldw4mlo

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If your daughter is already practicing handstands and bridges, I would want to make sure she is learning "a bit" of technique to make sure she doesn't get hurt. If she is not getting that at her current gym, I would try another one when her current session is over. No rush though, but four could be a good time to start learning a bit more basics for a child that seems already physically agile. As long as it stays fun!
I think at 3 she shouldn’t be doing bridges.
 

gymgal

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Rec gyms are a great introduction to the sport with emphasis on fun and learning to listen to the coach, etc. My dd started in a similar program to help build her strength (she was a preemie and had low tone) and was there for 2 years but when we moved and she requested to continue gymnastics at 4yrs old, I knew it was time to find a more structured gym. I think for your dd, staying where you are for 6-12 mths to see how she does, whether she continues to show interest, etc if fine. I think you will get a sense of if/when it's time to move. She will start to look bored or wanting to do more skills than what the gym can offer.

ldw4mfo brings up a good point. There is some controversy around bridges and backbends in children under 5. A lot of gyms still train them in their preschool classes but there is good evidence that points to avoiding these skills until the spine is developed enough to withstand them and the body/head ratio is more in line (toddlers/preschoolers have heavier heads that can get them in trouble with these and other gym skills). ETA there are numerous posts about this topic here on CB. You should be able to search for it.
 

rd7

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I'm in the UK, no bridges before 5 years old, our pre-school classes don't teach them, better to be safe than sorry.

Assuming you're in the US and changing gyms is no problem then you'll probably know when it's the right time to move to a more serious gym, no need to worry at the moment.
 
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Dahlia

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The Little Gym is great for starting out and being active. It's not great for actual gymnastics instruction (I say this as a parent who had all 3 kids go to TLG at one point or another). Give her time and stay there a bit. If she's just loving the running around, climbing, and playing, then leave here there. If she is really into the gymnastics part of it and wants more, then move to the recreational program at a gym that also has team options. She'll get coaching and a skill progression that will allow her to be chosen for team, eventually, if she is talented and desires to. If she wants to stay on the rec side, an actual gymnastics gym will have more growth there as she ages as well (TLG isn't really great beyond preschool age). But at 3, there is no rush. See how she continues to like it and what she likes about it.
 

ProudGymnast

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Hey- the little gym can be great. It definitely was what lit the fire underneath me, and made me love gym.

I started at like six years old went there for two years. No form, but I learned a couple skills. When I was eight I transitioned to a pre team, had the skill but no technique, which they taught me throughout that season and caught me up especially on bars. I am a really fast learner, I caught on and competed a mediocre level 4 season at age 9. Then I quit and came back age 13, quit at 15, and here I am age 17 level 9. Not a champion but I have always had a great, healthy relationship with gymnastics. And I would not sacrifice that for an elite career.

I am sure if I wouldn't have started there my story would be different. I have absolutely no regrets though, it was a fun no stress environment where I could not wait to go to gym every week, and wouldn't you know that I still feel this way *80%* of the time.
 

Madden3

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I do not think you "made the wrong choice" but I am curious what made you think the environment at the "serious" gym was not appropriate? Most "team gyms" also offer recreational classes for preschoolers (as well as for older kids who are doing gymnastics recreationally and not competitively,) in fact this is where most gyms make their money so they invest in these programs.

Such classes at competitive gyms should always be fun and developmentally appropriate. If you observed a very strict attitude or pressure at the "serious" gym, especially even for young kids, it might not be a gym you want your child at ever.

On the other hand, if you have just assumed that because the gym has a team the whole program is too high pressure for a little one, I suggest check the gym out. Maybe they offer a free intro class which would make it easy. The closest gym to us was the huge competitive team gym so that is where my kids took rec classes, and it was great.
 

josie55

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My daughter started at TLG and it was great. We moved her at some point (maybe around age 4?) to a competitive gym and the main difference I remember noticing was how the classes at the competitive gym used stations so the kids were always doing something. At TLG there was more taking turns bc the teacher spotted each child. That was a LONG time ago, but perhaps something to watch for if your child is wanting more action. Regardless I agree with others that you have not made a mistake!
 

Courtney

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Of course thanks! I guess I was thinking if she ends up loving it and progresses it might be easier to already be in a gym that allows that and to make a change before she’s been at her current one a long time?
my main goal is definitely to develop a love for athletics and work on some kinesthetic awareness and social skills.
The little gym only offers classes up through kindergarten age.. let her have fun for 2-3 more years and the. Graduate to a big girls gym when she moves to kindergarten
 

ReluctantGymMom

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I think when you start looking at other gyms, especially for Rec, really make sure you do a free trial with them and watch the class carefully. Just because the team side is good and rec is where most of the money is made does NOT mean the gym will invest in an actual good rec program. From all the gyms we’ve been at or visited, only one had a solid rec program (where my daughter started - but that was because their goal was for their preschool classes to feed into team and those classes were coached by optional level coaches).

I work the front desk at our current gym and I wiiiiish I could tell people they’re throwing their money away on our rec program. Same thing at our last gym.

It’s not so much about skills (although they’re learning none) but about structure. There is none! Because the people coaching aren’t trained to be coaches. So basically the only way you move to preteam or team is if your 4 year old teaches themselves a cartwheel, handstand, etc at home and comes to class to proudly show it off.

sorry went on a tangent but basically if you look at moving her to a more “serious” gym, don’t judge it based on team. Ask who is actually coaching rec, who coaches pre school, how long have they been coaching, do they have any qualifications or training. Ask how many kids per instructor and then go actually check if that’s true. See if the rec classes actually have room and time to use equipment - our gym isn’t large and rec usually only gets the floor, they have to work around Compulsories to try to get onto bars and beam which is super rare, and I’ve never seen them do anything resembling vault.
 
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