For Parents How do you know the gym is good?

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Jun 24, 2008
I'm very new to gymnastics. My daughter has done competitive dance for two years now. She's 7. She just started gymnastics this summer while dance is on a summer break because she has always been interested in it.

She has taken acrobatics for two years and all of the basic tumbling skills I think (rolls, walkovers, backhandspring, etc...) She is working on her tuck currently. But she was completely brand new to bars, beam and vault.

They started her in level 3 and she has had 3 classes so far. The owner took us aside at the last practice and said that our daughter is doing great and would like her to join the team at the end of summer and be in level 4.

My daughter was standing right there and was SO EXCITED, but dh and I basically told her no for several reasons. 1) she dances and it costs an arm and a leg and we already can barely afford that 2) we know that the dance company is good and reputable. We're not throwing our money away.

She was crying and begging to do both. And when I say crying, I mean bawling her eyes out.

But I'm concerned that they'd ask her so early to join the team in a month or two. She has only learned a few skills in those 3 classes. She does what I believe is called a pullover onto the bars. She gets spotted on the other stuff - hip circles and such. On the beam, she doesn't do anything major alone. She just does little jumps (sorry I don't know that proper names) and turns and leaps. She mounts alone and learned some cute way to do that. But she is spotted on the handstand dismount and the other tricks. She is spotted on the vault too. I'm don't think her body would be straight in the handstand thing if she wasn't spotted. So, in my mind, she really hasn't mastered anything in 3 classes - not that I expected her to master anything in 3 classes. But how could they know that she is team material? Maybe what she is doing with only 3 classes is good. I just don't know. That's my problem - I know nothing about gymnastics except that it is fun to watch. lol

So my question is, how do we know if this a good gym IF she ever decides to go to the competition level? I would hate for her to cut way back on dance to join a gym that's doing terrible at competitions because it's not teaching the right techniques, etc... But I know nothing about gymnastics so I have no idea how to find out if they are good or not.

They have trophies all over the place but I learned at dance that sometimes everyone who enters a competition gets a trophy. I don't know if gymnastics is like this or not.

So, I figured you would all know more than me a way to find out about the gym's reputation or standings or whatever I need to find out.

Thanks in advance for the help!
Feb 4, 2008
Region IV
Ask what kind of competative organization they belong to. The two I'm familiar with are USAG and AAU. USAG is the system the eventually spawns the Olympic athletes. It is probably, then, your best organization if you have Olympic or college dreams. Some gyms, however, will compete AAU for the very lowest levels and then move to USAG. Some always stay with AAU or another organization. These organizations might be preferable if you're more into fun and fitness with competition thrown in than if you're thinking you've got the next Olympian.

Second, look to see how many optionals (levels 7+) are still around. A good gym is one that girls continue to compete for.

Ask what meets they competed last year and then get online to look at results. How well did the team do? Keep in mind that winning isn't everything, but you might be suspect if most of the girls at all levels are near the bottom of the pack.

Level 4 doesn't look like much (turns and jumps sums it up pretty well), so don't worry about that.

Pulling a kid onto team after just 3 classes would concern me, too.


I think the coach's attitude should be an important consideration. If your child happens to stick with the sport for more than a few years, she will spend more time with her coach than with any of her teachers, and indeed with any other adults besides her parents. That's something to think about: How do you want her to be treated, and what besides gymnastics do you want her to learn?
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Proud Parent
Mar 9, 2008
I think the coach's attitude should be an important consideration. If your child happens to stick with the sport for more than a few years, she will spend more time with her coach than with any of her teachers, and indeed with any other adults besides her parents. That's something to think about: How do you want her to be treated, and what besides gymnastics do you want her to learn?
So very true rbw!!!! I agree with this post 100%.
Mar 5, 2008
North America
That's awesome that your dd is doing so well so quickly!! No, I don't think it is too soon for them to ask you to join team. My dd cheered for 3 years and has the basic tumbling skills also plus flexibility (she was a flyer). She knew she wanted to give gymnastics a try instead of cheer (like you I will not have her do two sports--it's too much money and too much time). She started out on pre-team and was only practicing with them for about 5 weeks when the coach told me that she will be moving up to Level 4. She learned a LOT of skills in that short amount of time. I guess the cheer training really helped her (just like the acro helped your daughter).
Maybe continue to take classes at the gym for a while till you get the feel of it. Go to a few meets when the season starts and see how they do and see if your dd would like it.
Jan 17, 2008
Welcome to the Chalk Bucket.

My Middle DD is a competitive dancer, I know the world of which you live. My oldest DD is a Level 7/8. It is a completely different world.

most of the time trophies are not just handed out at meets, ribbons maybe but not trophies.

I am not too surprised a coach would talk to you about team after a few classes Coaches look for talented, strong, focused kids. With your DD's dance background I am sure she has a poise and flexibility that is almost natural. Those are great things in Gymnastics.

The skills she is doing are normal for Level 3/4 and if she is catching on to those quickly, the coaching staff must feel that with a few more practices she can be doing those on her own and gain new skills.

So, To your first question.. How do you know if the gym is any good? I agree with Livingatthegym.. Look at the Optional team? How many girls are there? And do they look like they are having fun and happy??? That is important, they can be really good but if the girls are not happy they are not going to stick with the sport.

Most meets post their scores online, but I would be worried about putting too much placement in scores. Kids compete in different age categories and there may be teams that dont opt to compete in the Team Competition.

You can also talk to other parents. Check to see if there is a booster club too, a board member can share their experience with you.

keep us updated on whatever you decide...

Good Luck!


With her dance background - and her ability to do tumbling - I'm not surprised at all. That being said I think you did the right thing not having her compete both dance and gymnastics. A girl my dd used to train with competed both for a few years. This girls looked perpetually tired and sickly and not very happy. She eventually quit gymnastics and focused on dance (that was what she loved more) even though she did awesome at gymnastics - especially beam and floor because of all that dance. It took her parents a few years to realize doing both competitively was too much - if you realize that now you are ahead of the game.


You may not truly get a feel for the gym until you've been there a while. Do the research that has been suggested here, and in the process, look at other gyms also. If there are other good gyms in your area, then you can certainly move to another one later on, if this one doesn't pan-out. Not that I am in favor of 'gym-hopping', but sometimes you won't really know how well it fits until you've been there a while.

Why not let her try it? She can always go back to dance. It's not like if she joins the gym and tries competing for one season (usually only 3 months long), that you have to sign in blood. It's not a forever contract.

Of course it has to make sense financially for your family. Maybe you have already paid for an upcoming 'season', outfits, or whatever (I don't know how competitive dance works, sorry!). But, if & when it makes financial sense, I would let her try it out! Gymnastics is so fun! :p And I think you generally find a culture of nice girls & good families that go w/ the sport (aside from a few 'bad apples', which are everywhere, unfortunately!) :eek:

Incidentally & for what it's worth, we had a smilar, 'fast', team-joining w/ our daughter. I think an expereinced coach can pretty much sum-up a kid in a few minutes. It's probably not so much what skills the kid has, as much as it is their ability to acquire & learn new skills quickly, and if they have a good attitude & can focus. This is a great combo for gymnastics!

Good luck and keep us posted! :)

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
Use the criteria you used when deciding to pick a dance studio and apply it to the gym. If things don't sound right(as in joining team in 1 mo) then ask until you get some details. I'm sure with her dance background, they have seen a 7 yo used to working in groups, takes direction/correction well, has tumbling skills up to around L4 and is coordinated with some flexibility. These are all positives for a good gymnast.

What bothers me is asking her to join team after 3 classes. There is so much to learn in the sport. Just like dance, you've got to spend alot of time on the basics. Did the owner mean for her to be on a pre-team or competitive team? Reason I ask, is most compulsory(L1-L6) programs start competing in Sept-Nov. That would give her almost no time to really learn all the skills for beam, vault, bars plus the routines. One skill on bars(shoot thru/mill circle) gives kids fits trying to get it and do it correctly. There are drills on how to run properly for vault, how to use the springboard etc----the list just goes on.

Also, team is $. Not as much at L4, but since she's already on dance teams(yes, I've heard about the cost), still monthly tuition, meet fees etc. See the current thread on fees. Then there is the time committment. For L4, it would be an average of 9-12 hours/week with meets on weekends.

I think the owner could have done you a favor by discussing this with you and not have dd there to hear. Remember gyms are a business just like dance. I would go back to the owner and explain the dance situation and ask about a pre-team class your dd could take. That way she could work on the L4 skills without the pressure of having to get them in a very short period and would give you time to really get a feel for the gym.

BTW--Don't be impressed by all the trophies. Most gyms have them up and some may be 10 yrs old or from competitions that gave out trophies to the top 5 teams(and only 5 entered etc).
Jun 24, 2008
Thanks for all of the replies.

All I know is that the owner asked her to join the level 4 team at the end of summer. So I guess she stays in level 3 probably until the end of August. I don't know if it's a pre-team or what.

And I had a bad experience picking a dance studio - I think that is why I am worried about this. The dance studio we picked ended up being very poor on proper dance technique and the owner played head games with everyone. After one year there, I moved to a new studio with about 13 of the old studio's competition team. They had all had enough. So I guess because my intution was bad before, I just worry.

I got a list of fees for the gym. She would have to join USAG and get a SOKOL membership. She'd be practicing 5 hours per week and it mentions competitions but I would hope they would prepare her first.

Also I looked up some meet results they have online.

For level 4 seven and under, I didn't see any from our gym. I don't know if that means they didn't compete any or what.

for level 4 age eight, a girl from the gym got the highest score.

For leve 4 age nine, a girl scored 6th out of 11.

For level 4 age 10 and up, there was no entry for the gym.

For level 5, this gym scored all over. They have several first places, some in the middle and close to the end (not the last).

I'm thinking that that looks ok - to have them scoring all over, right?

We still haven't decided what we are doing. I'm trying to ask my dd if she would like to cut down on dance this year and maybe only do 3 dances instead of 6 or 7. She has agreed to cut out lyrical if she can take gymnastics. lol. I don't think she is understanding this! lol

I may just keep her in level 3 for this year because it's only once per week and only $15 a class. That would give her time to master the basic beam, vault and bar techniques and would give us to time to see how much she really likes this once the newness of gymnastics wears off.

Thanks again for all of the replies. I hope keeping her at level 3 for this first year is a wise decision.
Feb 4, 2008
Region IV
Scores all over the place are fine. Each athlete has strengths and weaknesses, good and bad meets. Some years' "crops" of gymnasts are better than others, so you could might see one level doing really well and another not so well. Nothing to worry about. But, if the vast majority of the athletes at all the levels competing are at the bottom, I'd say you might have a situation where the coaching isn't adequate. We have a few gyms like that in the state. Often, they're "only game in town" situations.

Good luck with your decision. I think you're wise to tell your daughter that doing both just costs too much (even though at 7, she doesn't seem to be getting it, lol). Letting your dd do both "this year" puts you in a tougher situation next year. Best set the limits now.

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
From the way you described the state L4 results, they either have a very small L4 team or not many girls qualified to states. In gymnastics, each state sets its own qualifying score for each level to get to compete at states. States is not an automatic meet. Having kids place top, mid and bottom is pretty typical for L5.

At 5 hours/week, a new gymnast(your dd) would not be prepared to compete this fall. I'm not a huge advocate of having little ones put in alot of hours for practice, but 5 is less than many pre-team programs. What you don't want to see is your dd go to meets totally unprepared and still learing routines/skills. Relate it to getting ready for a dance competition. They put in months getting the dances ready---same should be true for a gymnast.

I think leaving her at L3 and just letting her learn and see if this is more fun than dance is a realistic and practical way to go(also less expensive!!) Right now, this is new and all kinds of fun. 3-6 mos from now, she may say " like dance alot more" or "want more gym." In that period of time you will have had a chance to really observe the coaches, practices etc. for teams and see if this gym is a good fit. Also, you won't have a very tired 7yo who is running between gym and dance----plus factor in school.
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