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JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
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Are you at the wrong club? Here are 5 simple red flag signs in a great new article by our author Jen Kula...

 

JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
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Wisconsin

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What things have you seen that would lead you to believe a gymnastics club has issues?

 

Coach Kate

Coach
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Oct 13, 2021
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I think this will be an interesting post to read.

A couple things my coworkers and I have talked about having observed other gyms in the area :

- Social media posts of unsafe/scary looking skills being done. Sometimes we are floored at the things gyms use to essentially advertise themselves. If that's what they're willing to post online, you have to wonder what's going on behind the scenes.

- When parents from other gyms come up to us (coaches) at meets and tell us how nice it is that we are so encouraging to our athletes and cheer for them, in a way that says they aren't getting that at their own gym.
 

ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,536
62
There is a difference between a wrong fit for my gymnast and our family and a gym that is a bad gym.

And sometimes it’s not even the gym but a specific coach.

Too add-parents, gyms that allow crappy parents can wreck a group of kids.
 
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gym_dad32608

Proud Parent
Aug 7, 2018
404
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I have to add having the wrong owner, which sets the tone from the physical environment, the coaches and the overall program. A poor owner lets a bad coach thrive. But I have also been involved where a bad owner stifles a good coach with lack of support and constant tension. Was in a gym where gymnastics was just once piece of their tiny child care empire, and was more concerned with margins and controlling "the brand" than developing even a competent gymnastics program. Which if they were honest with themselves they should have just offered an Xcel program or one that clearly was more recreational in purpose. Yet they insisted they were a high level DP program. Ugh, constant tension and in retrospect unsafe environment.
 

procmadz

Gymnast
Fan
Jan 11, 2021
37
a few I've thought of (not all of these have happened, but a few of them):

-favoring specific body types (skinny, 'typical' gymnast body)
-really short practices
- requiring things of some gymnasts and not others
- (this really ticked me off) DD's gym posts "top 3" placement videos, but would not recognize scores, only placements. one of the third place routines was a 9.2 on bars. DD had 9.6 at the same meet, but did not place top 3, and was not recognized for it.
-not letting kids do what they need to for warmups (every kid is different)
- refusing to spot kids on brand new skills
- (again, really pissed me off) leaving the kids alone and not getting them out on the floor for warmup in time (coach A was "looking for" Coach B, caused all the kids to panic, kids ended up doing warmup under the bars, where several kids ran into the bar)
- in line with the one above, not staying with the kids for awards and cheering them on. Countless meets in the past two years where the coaches went to go get lunch and ate in the corner gossiping away from all the girls(there were no more sessions afterward and that was the only session of the day they had to be at)
-forcing DD to compete much harder skills than the entire rest of the team, when DD was VERY insistent that she did not want to compete skills she was not confident in and that she had just learned (the skill was not required for two more levels) (DD's coach at the the time insisted she was just getting out of competing the skill to score better, and that "Anything above an 8.0 is a great score, you'll be fine" *DD is typically a good scorer and works hard to clean up her skills*, did not believe that an 8 is a great score when she was used to scoring higher) (when DD first got the skill she was adamant that she wanted the coaches to work with her on cleaning it up and getting straight arms, as the other kids had not yet got the skill and they were still doing drills to work towards it. Coaches proceeded to never work with her on cleaning it and she went to take a bar class to clean it)
-mocking kids for mental blocks ("it's not that hard, just do it", "what the hell was that", "mental blocks don't exist")
-refusing to tell kids what they need for the next level (never mentioned that a 120 split was required for gold, told the platinums that they would only need the special requirements, and now none of them have B skills, told kids they would not certain elements that are required, etc. etc. )
- "you're not injured I just saw you doing ___"
 

JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
459
There is a difference between a wrong fit for my gymnast and our family and a gym that is a bad gym.

And sometimes it’s not even the gym but a specific coach.

Too add-parents, gyms that allow crappy parents can wreck a group of kids.
The impact of crazy parents, which in the extreme I think is a manifestation of a poorly run gym/bad coach, can't be overstated.

Reading the "crazy gym mom" (which isn't fair, as I've seen some terrible dads too) threads on here really understates how bad it can get. If you take the worst set of stories that people have ever seen, that would be a normal week at my daughter's old gym.
 
Nov 9, 2022
79
16
I feel like no uptraining near season/in season is also kinda bad, you just get bored of doing the same things over and over again.
Also the gym owner and coach should agree on the way to run things.
In my case, the gym owner was also partially involved in our coaching. She repeatedly told the coach not to practice/try a single skill above the current level until season was over, even when our main coach wanted us doing some skills for the next level.

Plus, being open about money and fees. We came from a different country and told them that, and asked them the complete cost. They told us the amount per month, and said this is everything included, including coach fee and leo and other costs. Later after the season ended they asked us to pay extra amount, more than double the monthly that we had been paying just for meets.
 
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PeanutsMom

Proud Parent
Jun 14, 2019
208
Favoritism -- ignoring gymnasts who are progressing at their own rate for girls whose parents push for privates, 2 a days, homeschool and pay a fortune in "extras"..then those gymnasts get praised for their "talent"..

Not spotting skills and telling kids to just "chuck it" (one of the reasons we left the first gym was that level 8 skills were getting no spot and if you didn't have it yet it was "why not?" )

Everyone injured ALL. THE. TIME.

Threatening kids with demotion if they don't get a skill (If you don't do XYZ you're going to XCEL or back to level such and such).

Comparing one gymnast to another (Why don't you have this skill yet? So and so had it already by your age).

And yes, ALL of these came from the first gym we were at and why we left.
 
Sep 30, 2022
78
14
Yelling: Especially at younger gymnasts. Unless it's across the gym and the only way to be heard, yelling at a gymnast shouldn't ever be needed.

Forcing gymnasts to do things they don't feel ready to: This causes injuries. Also can cause mental blocks, bad form, and a host of other things.

One single lead coach controlling all the others: One coach should not be consistently correcting the others, yelling at them, etc

Extremely young coaches for the team: High schoolers should not be coaching DP or XCEL. It isn't right and doesn't always go over well with older gymnasts

Constant injuries: It shows kids are performing unsafe skills, and that they aren't being spotted correctly or when necessary

Animosity within the team: If a team atmosphere isn't being encouraged, or at least fighting isn't being stopped, things are going to be crazy

Yes, these are all things I have experienced. I broke an ankle twice and dislocated multiple joints. The whole experience made my trauma, anxiety, and depression worse.
 

PeanutsMom

Proud Parent
Jun 14, 2019
208
If Xcel is a "downgrade" or a threat, that tells you what they think of an entire team of children who expect support and get derision.
That was the attitude of this club. Once you hit optionals the threat to move to XCEL was thrown at the kids daily if they weren't progressing fast enough.
 
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Nov 15, 2022
46
Lots of good points in this thread! The one thing I want to add as a definite red flag: litigious owners and/or parents. Yes, people sue people all the time. But if a gym is constantly dealing with lawsuits, either the gym has nefarious business practices, or parents have unrealistic expectations. Both sides of the coin are red flag territory.
 
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Nov 15, 2022
46
Question for the community: Should a gym lock the doors on former students?

A gym that I attended had a "you are dead to us" mentality with respect to former students. This felt like bullying (and a "red flag") to me. However, I understand that gyms are private businesses and need to control entry for security reasons. They are also competing with local businesses and need to maintain some image of exclusivity.

What are you thoughts? If a gym permanently bans a former student (either because they quit or switched gyms), is that a "red flag" or just "business as usual"?

---

EDIT for clarity: In a common scenario, the former student is attempting to watch an exhibition or competition that is hosted by the exclusionary gym.
 
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Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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Question for the community: Should a gym lock the doors on former students?

A gym that I attended had a "you are dead to us" mentality with respect to former students. This felt like bullying (and a "red flag") to me. However, I understand that gyms are private businesses and need to control entry for security reasons. They are also competing with local businesses and need to maintain some image of exclusivity.

What are you thoughts? If a gym permanently bans a former student (either because they quit or switched gyms), is that a "red flag" or just "business as usual"?

---

EDIT for clarity: In a common scenario, the former student is attempting to watch an exhibition or competition that is hosted by the exclusionary gym.
No way!

When we have a gymnasts leave, the first thing I always say is “the door is open, hope to do you back in the future”.

If they go to another gym I say something like “we do understand, everyone needs to find the best place for their own needs, but if your gymnast ends up not finding what they are looking for, we would love to see then again”.

More often than not, they come back. Most people just feel the grass is greener on the other side. When they check out the grass and decide it’s not so great, they feel safe to come back.

When someone comes back after having gone to another gym, they end up being your most loyal, fantastic clients. In the waiting area they tell other clients how much happier they are here.
 

JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
459
No way!

When we have a gymnasts leave, the first thing I always say is “the door is open, hope to do you back in the future”.

If they go to another gym I say something like “we do understand, everyone needs to find the best place for their own needs, but if your gymnast ends up not finding what they are looking for, we would love to see then again”.

More often than not, they come back. Most people just feel the grass is greener on the other side. When they check out the grass and decide it’s not so great, they feel safe to come back.

When someone comes back after having gone to another gym, they end up being your most loyal, fantastic clients. In the waiting area they tell other clients how much happier they are here.
That's a good attitude. When I was reading the post you quoted I thought they were talking about team -- e.g., if you go to a different team you can't come back to your team.

That's not kind but I could sort of understand it. Gymnastics is progressive and different coaches train in different ways, so you could argue that once someone is accustomed to another style you might not want to coach them.

But talking about not being able to go into the gym to watch a meet? That's next level crazy and would be a HUGE HUGE HUGE red flag.
 
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catchingupmom

Proud Parent
May 4, 2022
43
EDIT for clarity: In a common scenario, the former student is attempting to watch an exhibition or competition that is hosted by the exclusionary gym.
I agree, that is a pretty awful practice and I don't even understand how they have time to gate-keep the spectators at a competition. Yikes.
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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That's a good attitude. When I was reading the post you quoted I thought they were talking about team -- e.g., if you go to a different team you can't come back to your team.

That's not kind but I could sort of understand it. Gymnastics is progressive and different coaches train in different ways, so you could argue that once someone is accustomed to another style you might not want to coach them.

But talking about not being able to go into the gym to watch a meet? That's next level crazy and would be a HUGE HUGE HUGE red flag.
I was referring to all gymnasts but definitely team. In all our years I have NEVER had a team kid go to another gym, after being on our team and stay there. They have all either come back or left the sport entirely.

Yes, we have had rec kids head to other gyms and stay, usually if we haven’t out them in team but the other gym has.

But all team kids who went to another gym have returned and quickly (or left gymnastics as the decision to change was really because they were ready to move on from the sport).
 
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Jan 12, 2023
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As a teenage gymnast although it may seem a fun or kind gesture but a coach that wants to be ur friend is a big red flag this will lead them to crossing many boundaries and making you feel uncomfortable…… my coach was only 6 years older then me and she started crossing boundaries and making me unsure of if i wanted to keep doing gymnastics as i didn’t want to train i eventually moved gyms because of a house move and this new coach is kind and interested in our lives without crossing boundaries and now i look forward to gymnastics trainings now