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Gym Shopping

Discussion in 'Parent Forum' started by Flippin'A, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Flippin'A

    Flippin'A New Member Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    Hi, everyone. I’ve been lurking here a lot over the past several months, but I decided to finally make an account because I was hoping for the input of all you experienced gym parents.

    I was a very mediocre gymnast for my whole childhood. I made it to level eight through sheer stubbornness then quit due to persistent injuries and transitioned over to my high school team, which was not competitive at all. By that time I had become very jaded about gymnastics and had had a number of bad experiences with coaches who I recognize in retrospect were emotionally abusive.

    All of this is to say that when I had my daughter, A, I still loved the sport, but I didn’t want to put her in it. Then, back when she was five, we sat and watched the Rio Olympics together and she became obsessed with the idea of becoming a gymnast. I didn’t think she’d like it (she isn’t very focused, lol) so I figured what the heck, I’ll let her try. There’s a gym down the street from us so I signed her up for a rec class once a week and she fell in love immediately. All of her best qualities came out, it was like I could see her little five-year-old work ethic blossom before my eyes. Fast forward a year (to this past November) and they invited her to start training with their preteam with an eye toward her competing level 3 (which I still keep calling 4 by accident. I’m so old.) next fall when she’ll have just turned 7.

    I’m not going to lie, part of me is so happy to be back engaged in the world of gymnastics. No matter how many negative experiences I had, I still love the sport and I love the qualities it brings out in A. But this has also brought up a lot of concerns I have with putting her in the sport, especially given everything that’s come out about USAG over the past year.

    I’ve decided that I will let her do preteam, but I have no intention of letting her compete at the current gym for a few different reasons. They don’t have a pit, which can be worked around, but they also don’t have any upper level optionals, which tells me that aren’t effectively working around it. I also stayed a few minutes late with A to sign her paperwork for preteam and witnessed a coach berating a young girl for not going for her series. The girl was sobbing alone on the beam, and the other kids and coaches just went on with their practice as though this was a daily occurrence. It was too much like my own experience and I absolutely won’t let A work with someone like that.

    So, all of this brings me to my question. I live in an area where there are at least 5 gyms within driving distance and I want to take my time checking them out before she’s ready to start level 3. How should I go about figuring out which gym is the best environment for her? Should I call the front desk and see if they’ll give me a tour? Will gyms let prospective parents sit and watch an optionals practice, even if their kid is just starting on compulsories? Should I bring A with me, or leave her out of it until I’m ready to have her try out? I've never done this before, even when I was a gymnast I stayed at one gym my entire career. Any and all tips on gym shopping would be appreciated. I’d also love to hear what kind of questions you would ask if you were picking a gym for your child today.

    Sorry for the long post, and thanks for all your advice!
     
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  2. raenndrops

    raenndrops Well-Known Member Coach Proud Relative Former Gymnast

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    I would check out websites... call about viewing policies and ask for tours.
    I would not take your daughter with you OR give your name or her name to any of the gyms at this point.
    Find out what you can about each gym. Check out mymeetscores.com and meetscoresonline.com.
    See how their upper levels do.
    While at the gyms, see if there are any parents you can talk to. Ask their opinions.
    Alternately, you could attend a few meets where your "goal" gyms are attending. Watch how the coaches interact with the gymnasts. Sit and listen to what the parents are saying.
    Once you have decided on 2-3 gyms, THEN see about a trial. Space the trials out, so she has time to adjust.
    I like when gyms will let a girl trial for a week (or at least a few practices AFTER the initial evaluation). Take notes on each gym during the process. Ask your daughter what she liked best about the gym. Was there anything she didnt like? etc.
    Good luck.
     
  3. Flippin'A

    Flippin'A New Member Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    Going to a meet never crossed my mind. Our gym actually competes against most of these gyms so I could even take A just as an opportunity for her to watch "the big girls" compete and keep an eye on the other gyms while we're there. Thanks! That's a great idea.

    In terms of not telling the gyms we're looking at who we are, at what point does that break down? Obviously they need to know her name before a tryout, so would she need to quit her current gym before picking a new one? Or is there some overlap where we have to let potential gyms in on it and just trust that they're not going to talk to our current gym? I'm sure there's no hard and fast rule for this, but I'd love any experience you might have.
     
  4. txgymfan

    txgymfan Moderator Staff Member CBBC Board Member Coach Proud Relative

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    Look up changing gyms in our search bar. You will find many threads with lots of questions, advice , stories of successful transitions to wonderful new gyms and a few horror stories of what can go wrong. Many people on CB have changed gyms for one reason or another and they have all had different expirences.
     
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  5. MILgymFAM

    MILgymFAM Well-Known Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    When we left one gym, which was an abusive and authoritative environment, I created a dummy email. I didn’t give names at all, or tell where we were coming from until after an evaluation and at least one trial practice. My DD tried three gyms that way and no one blinked an eye. I explained that she would be immediately kicked out for looking and no one seemed surprised by the cloak and dagger routine.

    On the other hand, when my YDD switched gyms we decided on a whim to contact a new gym, went in that day for a trial, and immediately decided to switch. The new coach called the old gym that night to let them know- to him, it was good business practice. We didn’t care though because we had decided already, but it could’ve been bad in another situation. I would be as vague as possible to start, and I would definitely sit in the parent viewing area anonymously if possible and just observe and listen.
     
  6. John

    John Active Member Proud Parent

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    I let DD try four new gyms. She was 10 at the time. Two she knew instantly were not for her, I do not know how or why. She was never able to fully explain it to me. I researched scores and coach qualifications watched practice with DD and without and spoke to parents. Picking boiled down to gym size and class times. At best it is an educated guess.

    Things to raise the red flag;

    A coach who promises to get your gymnast to X level in X time.
    Gymnast and Coach must click, they spend hours and hours together.
    A gym that does not demand at least a week of trial before deciding. The decision to be accepted goes both directions, gym to gymnast and gymnast to gym.

    Good Luck
     
  7. mommyof1

    mommyof1 Active Member Proud Parent

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    I don't know that a full week's trial is necessary at the preteam level, unless perhaps it's a really intense program where they practice more than 6 or 8 hours a week and are training to start competing at L4. We moved our daughter in preteam level 2; the gym offered her a spot after a single trial practice and we were comfortable accepting it. At that level they only practiced twice a week anyway. Now they should offer you a trial week if you want or need it, but I wouldn't rule out a gym that didn't demand it.

    We had to sign a release with her real name on it before they would let her try out.
     
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  8. Flippin'A

    Flippin'A New Member Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    It makes sense that gyms would be used to the secrecy since it sounds like such common practice. Out of curiosity, did you have any questions you made sure to ask new gyms when you visited (about coaching philosophy or anything?) I'm trying to make a list of things to ask when I go for a tour. Were there any deal breakers for you or your daughters?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  9. Flippin'A

    Flippin'A New Member Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I've found some massively helpful old threads, but I wanted to create a new post so I could get more specific feedback and ask follow-up questions without reviving old ones. I've gotten the feeling you guys really don't like when people start posting on old stuff.
     
  10. MILgymFAM

    MILgymFAM Well-Known Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    Honestly, I was not big on questions outside of logistical ones (practices times, meet fees, tuition, scratch policy). We laid out very honestly who my DD was as a gymnast, what she was and wasn’t looking for, and where her ability range was.. she judged how the coaches interacted with her (and more importantly with everyone else) during practice and what her gut told her about working with them day in and out. I went with my gut based on how easy it felt to talk to them and how much communication I observed between the coach and the other parents. They, of course, were judging us too.
     
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  11. txgymfan

    txgymfan Moderator Staff Member CBBC Board Member Coach Proud Relative

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    You are right! Thank you for starting a new thread instead of adding on to an old one. Welcome to Chalkbucket!
     
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  12. duyetanh

    duyetanh Well-Known Member Proud Parent

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    You are in a very good position, honestly. Your child hasnt officially started team yet, and thus she is not on any other teams radar. No parents will know you, nor will the coaches. Go watch meets, and see how the cpaches interact with their athletes....especially watch the interaction when a gymnast struggles in an event....watch practices without your dd...for all the gym will know, you are an aunt coming to watch or a friend. Or they wont even notice you depending on how many parents are there. It is a great way to see how coaches interact with the athletes without someone there on trial. Also, I know that you were at one gym, but many gyms out there today are very fluid in terms of coaches....they do tend to move around...just something to keep in mind...gym dynamics as you know, change each year. And the gym that works for your daughter at level 4 mught not be the gym that works if she is fortunate to get to higher level optionals.

    Good luck, and I think its awesome you are planning ahead and being proactive rather than retroactive once she gets going with it all.:)
     
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  13. raenndrops

    raenndrops Well-Known Member Coach Proud Relative Former Gymnast

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    Ask if they have a team handbook you could look at (if a copy isnt available online).
    Definitely ask about class / practice times (for where you think she would be now AND for future team levels). Ask if the times change often.
    You want to make sure times fit in with school and family and work times. Ask if times change over school breaks and summer.
    Ask about fees (ALL fees... yearly registration fee, class fees, team fees, meet fees, gym gear fees, any required practice leotard and the cost for that, assessments). Ask if they have a booster club and fees / requirements related to that.
    Ask how long the team coaches have been there (or how much experience they have)... if it is not available online.
     
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  14. CLgym

    CLgym Active Member Proud Parent

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    We changed gym when my DD was 7 years old -- shortly after she competed a season of Xcel Bronze (she had basically L3 skills plus her kip at the time). I did not feel the need to be super secretive about it, but did ask the gym that we were trying to please keep our try-out confidential and they agreed. Realistically, a 7 year old with L3 skills changing gyms is NOT the same as an upper level (or even mid-level) optional gymnast where the original gym has invested years of time. There was no drama -- so either our tryout was kept confidential or old gym didn't care (or both).

    Regarding the tryout itself, DD participated in a full JO L4 practice (3 hours) and received an offer afterwards. She was unsure about making the switch, so I asked if she could try an entire week of practices (this got a little tricky because she had to miss several practices at her original gym). After the week, she felt ready to change gyms and is still very happy with her choice.

    Regarding research, it doesn't sound like I had as many choices as you do. Proximity to home was a big factor for me because I have other children and wasn't willing to spend hours driving or sitting in a gym far away from home. I needed to be able to get home after dropping off so I could spend time (dinner, homework) with my older kids. That limited me to just a couple of options. I talked to parents I knew at these other gyms. I researched scores to some extent -- although scores rarely tell the full story; we picked a new gym (only one year old at the time) so there were very few upper level optionals, but I had faith in the HC to build a good program. I was actually able to private message a legend on this board (dunno) for his opinion regarding my options. If I had to weed out more options, I probably would have stopped by the gyms on my list to observe practices. In my limited experience, most gyms would be fine with that (and might not even notice an extra parent in the lobby given how many kids are streaming in/out for rec classes, etc.)

    Good luck.
     

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