Newbie with questions

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First I would like to say I am soo glad I found this site.

2nd, I have a question or two, but first a little background.

I have two girls Anna (4.5 year old ) and Gabbi (3.3 yr old). After watching the olympics and seeing gymnastics and Anna trying to copy them in my living room, I decided to check into getting them into some classes. I found a place went and looked, and decided to try their free first lesson. So we went this past thrusday.

The girls had a BLAST! Anna took to everything right away. Was even doing flips on the bars all by her self after the coach helping once.

Gabbi love MOST of it. The only part which she did not like was the beam. They put both my girls on the same beam, they both walked it once, then Gabbi decided she was scared. Upon trying to get the to do a little hop Gbbi just stood there and cried. The coach took her down and walked her over to me and said nope she can't do this. In order for her to be in the class she has to do the beam. Just watching everyone else was not an option and her standing up there and crying was distracting to others. *note there was at least 6 other classes in various stations through out the gym*

I had a talk with Gabbi who wanted to jump on the trampoline. I told her she could not jump on the tramopline, until she did the beam. I told her they would not allow her to come back to the class at all unless she did the beam. After getting her calmed she finally said she would do the beam. I sent her back to the coach. The coach put her back on the beam, facing away from me but you could tell she was crying again. She tried to reach out for the coach to help her but the coach would not do it. Left her standing there for a few mins and then took her down and set her on the floor while she helped Anna and another little girl finish up the beam.

They moved on through the other stations and at the end they said they did great except Gabbi on the beam.

I don't think they gave her a fair hake really. I mean this was her very first time on anything like that. It was not at it's lowest level. It seemed to me they expected her to come out the gate with out fear.

I *think* I have them talked into giving her a few weeks. There are only my 2 girls and one other little girl in this session. The coach says she does not have the time to give individual attention. I *think* we came to te conclusion Gabbi can continue to come class and see if she can overcome the fear until the session fills up, at which point if Gabbi still refuses to do the beam, she will not be able to attend class until she is older.

I really just don't get this. I think she is being treated unfairly. She's a child who have never done anything like that before. Isn't that the point of a class is to learn things?

Is this standard procedure? Is the beam right for a 3yr old and 4 yr old? Should they have been on their own beams?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

They started at the end closest to the camera. This is them walking to the other end, the only Gabbi would do. After that she would just stand and cry.


Yes I am aware jean shorts are not proper attire. I thought they would be ok for the first free trial lesson. *blush*


Aug 3, 2008
Wow if they treat a 3 year old that way how mean are they to the older girls?? :eek:

To be honest with you my recommendation for you is to find a different gym. I simply cannot believe they would put a three year old on a beam that high their first time ever and stand that far away! If I was coaching a pre-school class (mind you I haven't, others on this board do coach pre-school classes and will have more input) I'd start them on a floor beam a couple of times before moving to even a low beam, and when moving to a low beam (where the bottom of the beam is barely off the floor) I'd place a folded mat at the end that they could stand on and wait their turn, and have one cross at a time, standing right next to them in case they wanted a hand to help steady them.

Proportionally, that beam she is on is nearly as tall to her as a high beam is to me. I'd never expect a three year old to even stand on a beam of that height the first time without a spot.

I just don't find this whole situation you described to be developmentally appropriate. Is there a different gym you could try instead?



This is outrageous and unacceptable behaviour!!! If I were you I would not even consider letting my children into a gym like this. Although kids have to be tough to be in this challenging sport, it should be about fun at this age, your daughter is only three years old - of course she is scared! This is exactly why we do not allow under five's to do serious gymnastics in GB!

I can assure you not all gym's are like this, and this behaviour on the coaches part is highly unproffesional, I would move gym's immediatley, there should be other good gym's nearby that treat young children with respect and comfort, I am thoroughly disgusted that anyone who calls themselves a gymnastics coach can treat any child like that.


Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
North Carolina
This would bother me as well. Our pre-school kids walk on the training beam which is 6" wide and only about a foot or a foot and a half off the floor - if they are in the big gym. The do have a standard 4" beam in the preschool room but again it is VERY low. then they also have these two 'crayola' beams that look like crayons that are 4 in on the top where they walk but wider at the base so they can't tip.

I would look for another gym if that is an option. I just don't see how they can toss a 3.5 yr old on that beam and expect them to just go for it.


Are there other gyms in the area you could try? That would make me really nervous. Our preschool classes start out on the floor beams and work their way up as THEY are comfortable. At the ages your girls are - they should be going there to have fun - not having someone tell them they aren't cut out for it based on one trial class. I would definitely have them try a class at another gym if possible. Good luck - and welcome to CB.


I agree with a big resounding no to that gym. What does the coach mean that she "doesn't have the time to give individual attention?" Isn't that her job??? ALL gymnasts, even the high level ones, need individual attention to learn new skills, and everything was a new skill for your babies. Run very quickly to a different gym.
Aug 2, 2008
east coast
Wow! Very inappropriate on the part of the coach! I hope you take your kids to another gym and get to experience a kind TEACHER who realizes all kids are different and be willing to do her job to teach your daughters!

The conversation you had should NEVER take place in regards to a recreational prreschool class. We make accomidations for little kids all the time!:eek:


Proud Parent
Jun 26, 2008
I have taught preschool through level 7. I am also a pediatric physical therapist. In my opinion, it is absolutely not developmentally appropriate to place a child that age on a beam of that height and not be much closer for safety. If she were to lose her balance, how would the instructor know if your dd could jump down safely after having just met her?

In preschool programs that I have worked at, kids start low and work their way up slowly in height. How comfortable would most adults be in that situation...(did you see Meredith Viera on the Today Show with Shawn Johnson, lol)

That teacher really took a risk there...not to mention that her attitude could affect your daughters comfort level on beam for a long time.


Thank You everyone for your replies.

As much as I would like my girls to do gymnastics, they wll not be returning to that gym. I will be calling Monday and let them know they will not be returning, and WHY. I am glad I found this board.

I will be calling to other gyms, there seems to be several in the area or as far as I was going to drive to this gym. When calling around this gym was the only one that answered the phone. All others were a voicemail or answering machine.

I am glad I found this board, and was able to get good advice from parents and coaches! I am an unfit mom who was never given the oppertunity to do anything like gymnastics, dance or anything.

My youngest daughter is built like me, and has a big appetite as well. I need to get her in some sort of sport, fitness thing soon so she has a chance to be healthy. I will continue looking.


Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
North Carolina
Don't give up on a gym just because you get voicemail. When I was looking into gyms for my DD, I had to leave a message at the two that are closest to home. One called back. One did not.

Guess which one we picked :D

We are lucky. We are at a small gym w/ a head coach who obviously loves what she is doing and all the kids (recreational or team) that come to her gym. At that age. that is what matters.


Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2007
Don't let the fact that you received a voicemail at other gyms put you off. Go ahead and leave a message, I guarantee someone will call you back quickly. There's a fantastic gym in our area that only has limited phone coverage during the day. Everyone's busy out on the floor coaching! So do make the phone calls, and go to a different gym! Let us know what happens when you have the conversation with the gym about WHY you're not returning!!


gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
I know time and gas are precious commodities these days, but if you don't hear back quickly from a gym and you have the time, stop by and just walk around a little. Usually there is someone at the front desk or they can get a coach out of the gym to talk with you.

For the age of your girls, if you could find a gym that had its own pre-school area or room that would be a huge plus. You should look around any gym to see that they have the smaller sized mats, beams etc. that are all little kid friendly. Ask questions about what is done in each class---could you be out there with the 3 yo while the older one is in another group? How many kids in a class, are make ups allowed for missed classes, background of their instructors? I would not hesitate to relate the experience your 3 yo had at the other gym regarding the beam. Poor thing must have been terrified and another coach should know this so he/ she can work appropriately with her.

Good luck and wish nothing but fun and lots of smiles from those girls!!! Keep us updated.
Mar 5, 2008
North America
I totally agree with everyone that posted as well. I am appalled at how the coaches treated your 3 year old daughter! That is horrifying!!! I would definitley look around at other gyms. Also, it is a good idea to go to these gyms in person and just watch for a while. Check out the coach/child interaction and see how they relate to the pre-schoolers. Talk to some other parents and get a feel for how they like it. I know that my gym has a separate pre-school area that has equipment mini-sized for the kids.

I still can't get over how they would let a 3 yr old stand on a beam that high WITHOUT A SPOT!!! And then upset her like that and not give her help when she cried.

Good luck and I hope you find a great gym for your girls.


Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2007
I just wanted to agree with everyone who said to RUN from that gym and find another. I can't believe they would put them up there and stand so far away. Or make her stand up there crying. :(

Definitely leave messages at the other gyms. I hope you find them a gym where they can have fun and not be made to cry. Gymnastics should be FUN. Good luck finding a gym that knows how to work with preschool kids.
Aug 7, 2008
I am in agreement with everyone else. I cant believe that coach treated your 3 year old that way! First of all to place her on that high of a beam without even spotting her is crazy and dangerous, of course she was scared! I really hope that you can find another gym to bring her to. Im sorry that her first experience in the gym was like this but Im glad that she is giving it another try. Im sure that she will do great in a better enviroment!


I wouldn't be happy with that type of treatment, either. I don't take my pre-schoolers on anything above waist-height. We do 95% of our work on low beam just getting the feel for balancing and walking and jumping on beam. I might take them up on "high" beam at the end of a class just to walk across and get the feel for being up higher, but I always hold them by the waist because kids this age are notoriously unpredicatable for when and how they'll fall. I also like holding the waist because I have better control over the kid, they get the feel of using their arms for balance, and I won't yank on a shoulder if they do fall. Of course, they all just want to hold my hand :) And I do have kids who get very scared. I encourage all of them to at least get up and try, but I'm not going to force a kid that age to walk the high beam. Some are too young to have the coordination and depth perception and balance to handle high beam, and it's just not necessary for them to do high beam at this point in their careers.

About the voicemail - don't worry about that at all! It *might* actually be a good thing. Maybe they don't have a full time front desk person so it keeps their costs down (and also your tuition). If they call back, that's what's important.
Jul 26, 2008
Coming late... as usual... ;)

Judging solely from what I've seen from our gym, if they treated new kids like that (regardless of age!!) they would be out of business VERY QUICKLY. Our preschoolers (who run up to 3.5yrs - 4yrs) are always encouraged but not forced to do things.... and they certainly aren't overfaced like that!!

We have the luxury of a separate preschool room with scaled down equipment (my son is in there), but there has been the occasional time where they've gone to the main floor to get a drink and one of the kids will ask if they can walk across the high beam. The answer is almost always YES and everyone is encouraged to try (with a spot) but not forced. A child who is upset or just plain refuses just watches and almost always has a quick walk across the floor beam back in the preschool room to reinforce that beam is okay.

Good luck finding another gym!!!


Walking on the high beam was actually one of the criteria to signal a child was ready to move OUT of the preschool program at our old gym. If a child could walk on the high beam, they were allowed to move to the kindergym program instead.


Proud Parent
Mar 1, 2007
Welcome to CB! I agree with everything that's been said here about putting your lil gymie on the beam. Poor thing! If she wasn't scared before she sure will be after that experience! I am sure gyms are going to be getting a lot of new kids after the Olympics, but maybe that gym wasn't quite ready yet? That program sure didn't seem like a pre-school program to me. My DD first started when she was about 3 and her session involved a lot of FUN things like trampoline and a little course hopping mats, safety stops, walking the lowest beam, and being helped on a pre-school bar either bringing toes up to the bar or coach helping them flip over. There were plenty of games, hugs, and walks with the coach on the low beam for those that needed it. My DD didn't go near the big beam until 4 and while she wasn't scared at all, I attribute it to the fun & safe coaching she had before she got up there.

If your girls like gymnastics please don't give up on it yet. I am sure there are plenty of gyms with good pre-school programs in place. Go an visit some that are close by, and ask to watch their classes! Word of mounth is good you have any friends who have daughters who go? Sometimes gyms offer a "bring a friend" special too. I wouldn't pay for anything ahead of time either. Most places will let you try a class out or have a money back policy if your child is not happy.

Also, just another thought. Prior to my DD going to the gym she attended a dance school for a creative dance class. It had some light tumbling (learning forward rolls) in it as well as fun dance moves which sort of got her interested in the gym too.

Good luck!


Proud Parent
Jun 26, 2008
Hey...have you found a new gym?

Hi, I was wondering if the OP has found a new gym...update please!!:)
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