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Greetings fellow gymnastics parents! So glad to have found this forum. Both my kids, 7-year old Science Boy and 5-year old Ballerina Girl, started going to twice-weekly recreational gymnastics classes this Fall. They go to a serious gym with Olympians in their roster of alumni. There are tons of teams practicing all the time (I often wonder how they parcel out which team gets to train in what apparatus -- there doesn't seem to be any too much equipment hogging/waiting around going on). I'm totally and completely new to the world of gymnastics and so have some questions about the way classes are structured.

I know there are two kinds of gymnasts, at least in our gym -- ones who are "recreational" and ones who are on the "teams." There is also something called "pre-team." My first question:

1. Is being in a team inevitable? After you reach a certain age and level (Science Boy and Ballerina Girl are both in Levels 2/3 in our gym), do they then move on to teams?

2. If not, then how long can you be a recreational gymnast? Those are the gymnasts who don't compete, right? They just go to classes. Can you go all the way thru high school? What if you're a varsity athlete in another sport and just want to take gymnastics as a supplement to your training? Is that possible?

That's all, folks!


Gold Membership
Feb 26, 2007
Welcome to the CB.

In our gym, and most other gyms, to be on team or pre team is invitation only. If you turned down the offered invite your child can remain in recreational groups. What that means is different from gym to gym. Some gyms have huge rec programmes with every level and age group. Smaller gyms may not be able to offer the whole range.

So the answer is "yes" absolutely your child can stay in rec and be involved in gym for her whoel childhood.

Also team is not inevitable, every gym has different criteria for making team. I am sure my girls would not have made team in some US gyms. Not every child is going to be up to the challenge of team, for many reasons.


Proud Parent
Mar 1, 2007
Just wanted to say WELCOME to CB and add "ditto" to what Bog said. If I wrote it out it would have taken an hour to read. Just wanted to add that some gyms are more competative than others. Some are mainly rec gymnastics and offer programs to all ages, some do USAG competition teams, some have other "team" programs that aren't as serious (hours wise) as USAG, like here in NJ there is JOGA (like HS gymnastics programs) or or the Independent Club teams. Some gyms offer tramp programs/team and even have tumbling (and power tumbling) classes for those that want to try other types of programs. Many programs are offered for boys and girls...gymnastics is not just for girls!
Can you go all the way thru high school? What if you're a varsity athlete in another sport and just want to take gymnastics as a supplement to your training? Is that possible?

Sure. Through college even. But again...that's Gym dependent, so next time your at the gym waiting, just ask at the desk. Our gym reception desk knows me well. Probably as "that guy who keeps pestering them". :) But I'll still ask anyway.

Also, many gyms offer different types of Rec classes. Such as Acrobatics for cheerleaders. No bars/beam/vault. All floor. This is a very popular class for both boys and girls. Surprizingly... there are a good number of dance school students to H.S. wrestlers in our gym's cheerleading class. The class teaches more then 'tricks' but also strength, agility, and endurance. Nice crossovers into other varsity sports and activities.


Like everyone else says, it definitely depends on the gym. We start competition at level 4 and have ages on that level from 6 to 12. We also offer tumbling and cheerleading classes. I have found that some of our competition gymnasts that found the lifestyle a little too much for them moved to the tumbling class and love it! It offers a little more "excitement" than the rec class, but no beam/bars/vault stress:)! Regardless of skill level, competition gymnastics may not be for everyone, so it really helps to be in a place that can accomodate that, and still provide a challenge.
Oh yea... and depending on how high up in level the gymnast gets, competitions get father apart too. Such as, Our gym has L7 - Elite competitions in St. Louis to Chicago and even Florida. Budget and Gymnastics competitions needs to be evaluated as well. How far are you willing to go? According to the USAG website, a typical cost for an Elite Gymnast is $30K a year.

That's not about to happen in our household.

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
Does a child have to be on the team? No. Team is usually after completing a pre-team program and many decide during pre-team they don't want to do gymnastics 10-12 hours/week or like the idea of competing. Pre-team at many gyms is by invite only, but if one or both kids are interested, then ask about it. It usually is more hours than rec and of course more hours=more money.

I've known girls in other sports that do gymnastics for fun or cross training and stay in rec classes. Many gyms also offer "open gym"where anyone can come in to practice. Power tumbling/tramp is becoming popular and I know the classes at our gym are growing in those areas.

Also many areas of the country(and this will vary state to state) have rec leagues or AAU which are run differently than the competitive USAG track. The rec leagues aren't as intense in the way the meets are done, have fewer hours of practice and cost less. Can't say I've ever heard of one that offers a boys program though.

BTW---Welcome to the CB--glad to have you join us!
Mar 5, 2008
North America
Hi and welcome to the Chalkbucket!! Our gym has EVERYTHING--rec classes for all ages in which you can choose to stay in for as long as you like and not do team, Pre-Team, Mason Dixon League (Levels 4, A, B, C, D), USAG (Levels 4-10), Acro teams, and they are starting a cheerleading program as well!!! There are a lot of different options depending on your childs skill/commitment level and interest.
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