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Your daughter does not neccessarily have to have a screwed up childhood to persue and be successful in gymnastics. Your daughter shows obvious strength and ability to succeed in the sport. And she would be able to do it all the while loving every minute of it. I don't understand how one thing has anything to do with the other.


If she really enjoys training then it's not a screwed up childhood. If she'd rather just do it for fun; that is when it becomes a screwed up childhood. Having the skills will get you far but it's the desire and competitive drive that gets you farthest and would keep her going back to training.
Feb 4, 2008
Region IV
Depends on what kind of time you're talking about and for how many years.

Not every gym demands military boot camp effort from their whole team. Lots of girls compete for AAU (around here, that's usually a lighter program with easier scoring) or for gyms that just don't happen to think that kids in the primary grades need to spend every single night after school at practice. And these gyms can be pretty competative, too. They might not win team title after team title, but they can produce some good athletes. So, if you don't want to commit to the "screwed-up childhood," shop carefully for your gym. Honestly, gym should not take over your life at level 4 or 5.

Another thing to consider is how many years you'll spend. I can't find newer stats on the USAG website, but in March 2007, there were over 20,000 athletes registered at level 4. There were less than 1/2 that amount registered at level 6. This doesn't mean kids don't make it, but that they move on. Other interests, an injury, a big growth spurt, puberty, a change in the family financial situation, or any number of other reasons might be the cause. So, if you put in the time, you may only have the "screwed-up childhood" for a couple of years. And there's nothing wrong with that. Had fun. Ready to try something else. Great.

From my own experience, we've been living the life of a competative gym family for 6 years now. My oldest "retired" after regionals last April. She was a month shy of her 15th birthday. My youngest, 12, is now training level 8 and 9 skills. Here's the kind of crazy I'd say is in store if you stayed in this over the long haul. Remember, though, you wouldn't hit all of this right away.

1. The kids go right from school to practice and don't get home until about 8:30 pm. We can eat together as a family only on Saturday nights.

2. Other activities have been squeezed out. When they were level 4, 5, or even 6, we were able to get in a season of soccer or something. Now, the only other sport we can play is softball--that's because gym practice moves to days in the summer and softball is at night. We're just lucky that there's no conflict with confirmation. Other families at the upper levels have had to make difficult choices between training and church.

3. Your car will be full of food wrappers and crumbs from all the eating on the way to/from practice.

4. School friends complain that your dd can't ever do anything, especially anything on short notice, because she's always at the gym. I've heard lots of parents say their kids' best friends are at the gym. Not so for us.

5. Since we're not wealthy people, we replaced "vacation" with "travel to meets." I miss vacations.

6. If you have other children, it may be almost impossible to give their activities and interests the kind of time and attention that gymnastics gets.

7. Did I mention is costs a whole lot?

Obviously, I'm still in this rat-race, so I can't think it's all bad. I think you'll get a lot of rosy "go for it!" comments, and I just wanted to point out that if you do wind up to be one of the few who is still in it after compulsories, you will have given up things that some people feel are way more important than a mere sport. Good luck with your decision.


3. Your car will be full of food wrappers and crumbs from all the eating on the way to/from practice.

You mean it's not only my car that looks like that :D

Seriously though - mkranitz - your dd obviously has some natural talent. If she loves gymnastics, let her go for it. Just make sure she knows from the beginning that it is on her terms. If she knows that, she will be comfortable coming to you if she ever feels like it is too much.

gym monkeys mom

Proud Parent
Oct 3, 2007
I have had many coaches tell me they would rather have a kid with average talent and a great work ethic who loves gymnastics any day over a super talented kid whos lazy. This beiing said I think it is for gymanstis team to be the gymnasts choice. As livingatthegym said the time and finances are crazy but, that is true with a lot of sports these days. It is important to weigh all these things and then see what your daughter wants to do. I always make my dd committ to a whole season i don't feel it's fair to the team or coaches to drop half way through a season. I also think gymnast become very hard working, independant teens and probably adults. This is probably in part due to the determintation it takes to be a gymnast and learn new skill. Like someone else said gymnastics is a marathon not a sprint. So I guess what I am saying is have a talk with dd see what she thinks and take it season by season just because she does it now doesn't mean she needs to stay with it untill colloge or anything. Gymnastics is great training for lots of other things. Best of luck to both of you.

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
Not sure what you mean by take it to the next level? Does that mean moving onto team? Just like most sports for kids, gymnastics can be a great experience or a really bad one. You have to take time to look at gyms and their programs. Just because one is a "name" gym doesn't mean the program will fit with your family's time/finances. Check out all the programs around. Does she want artistic gymnastics vs T & T? How is she in school-----can she handle going to practices on weekdays and doing homework after(means giving up some TV time etc). For a child to commit to team, really the whole family has to commit to team. There are fundraisers, going to meets, picking up/dropping off for practice. It can be a real juggling act. Bottom line is your dd has to want to do it----has to want to put in the hours and be sore some mornings from working on a new skill.

Close monitoring of number of hours, how the coaches treat the kids, your own dd's motivation and desire is absolutely necessary. There are horror stories about the sport and great success stories. As Livin pointed out many many girls drop out of the USAG track by L7. Girls that actually get to the optional levels are the minority. Nothing wrong to say tried it and wasn't for us. It is a pricey sport----not the most expensive, but up there. That is an issue you and dh need to agree on----can we afford it. Its tough when you have other kids that want to pursue activities.

Anyway, best of luck making a decision. We're all here to be a sounding board for you. Keep on posting!!!

Livin---I love #3 and 5 on your list!
Jan 22, 2008
I have to say your DD has talent but you concern me with your statement of "screwed up childhood". If your child is doing something they love, how is that screwed up?? Yes it takes hard work and dedication to be successful in this sport that doesn't mean all these girls are screwed up.

My DD is 5 and trains 12+ hours a week at the gym. If she has a day off she is doing her hour warm up at home and practicing or asking to go to the gym to work out. Does that mean she is "Screwed Up"??? DD LOVES what she does. DS loves his sport too. He puts his roller blades on and skates 8 1/4 mile laps a day around my neighborhood and practices his shots on goal. (Hockey player). Both of my children have found sports that they each have a passion for. Both are very demaning in regards to time and money. There are many times I can't not be at both places and have to run inbetween. DS is logging sometime up to 10 hours a week on the ice. It is the nature of these sports. Do I feel my children are deprived from having a "normal childhood"???? NO way, they are gaining far more being involved in these activites. They are learning more self confidence, making and extra circle of friends from their school friends, developing skills that will help them in anyother sport, learing how to function as a team. Do I need to go on????

Yes it is a demaning schedule but I really don't think either of my children would change it for the world. DD has been going to our gym what is starting her 4th year. It is a way of life for her. DS has been doing his sport for what is beginning his 3 year. They still have fun with friends and go to pleanty of parties but for the most part I don't have to worry about drugs, and getting into trouble. So if that is screwed up I guess I am raising two very screwed up children.
Jul 12, 2007
Assuming she has the skills to really "take it to the next level" I'm wondering what sort of screwed up childhood is in store for my daughter if we pursue.

She is a level 5, so I assume she is in a competitive gym already... I am confused, what does "take it to the next level" mean? To continue?


Gold Membership
Feb 26, 2007
I had a very talented 8 year old, cartwheels at 2, BWO's at 3.

She still does gym now. competes and loves her time in the gym. She is now no longer ahead of the pack, has been plagued by injury, has made great friends and loves her coaches. It has all been worth every moment and every penny of my money.

She is now almost 12 years old, is not going to be elite or anything close to it, but loves every moment she gets to spend in the gym. I couldn't have given her 9 better years than she has had, so yes, it is all worth it!

Is this what you are wondering???


Proud Parent
Mar 1, 2007
Awwww, I loved your response Bog. And I agree. I think gymnastics is a lot like Kindergarten. Some kids start having done years of pre-school & enrichment classes and are ahead of their peers who stayed home w/mom. At the end of the year they are all on the same page, LOL:D

I also agree with the list and proudly admit to having a car full of wrappers and half drunk Gatoraide/water bottles.

But I think gymnastics is what you make of it. Your child is not going to have a messed up childhood if they are there because they want to be in the gym and love it. I think you have to take it one day at a time & let them know you support them no matter what they do. Your daughter looks amazingly talented, just let her go at her own pace & I doubt she'll be messed up!


I'm wondering if maybe you're thinking of the days when parents would send their talented little girls off to train at these highly competitive elite gyms and they wouldn't see them for weeks or even months at a time. With all the controversy out around Jennifer Sey's book and now Dominique's interview, I can see your concern. However, I don't think things are done like that much anymore. If your DD is really talented and wants to go far in the sport, you may have some decisions to make down the road but for now, just let her have fun. Just take it one step at a time


Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2007
Well, my DD isn't super talented, but she loves it and she has fun. She wants to compete. So what if she isn't the best. So what if she herself says right now that she never wants to do what the L9/10s do. And that I seriously think that she will be done after L4 because she will decide she wants to try something else.

I still think that gymnastics is worth it for her right now. She is learning so much more from gymnastics than cool tricks.

As others have said, as long as she is in the gym because SHE wants to be there, not just because she has a lot of natural talent since that can only take you so far or because a parent is trying to live vicariously through her accomplishments, I say let her go for it.

It isn't as if you are signing her up to be on the elite path and there is no turning back. :D
Jul 26, 2008
I grew up in competitive swimming. LOVED it, absolutely adored it. We swam twice a day M-F, then 4hrs on Saturday mornings, plus dryland training. I would have died if I couldn't swim.

But there came a time when it wasn't fun anymore. When workouts became just that - workouts. The joy was gone. And finally one day my mom asked me if I was having fun. When I replied "NO, not really", she asked why we were still doing this.

So I stopped.

I still swim for health and fitness and have even considered going back and doing Masters swimming, but I don't regret quitting. Sure, a couple of times when I'd see people I raced against going to the Olympics I wished I'd stuck with it, but it didn't eat me up or anything.

Anyway, the point of my rather lengthy ramble is I don't think there IS a screwed up childhood if gymnastics is something your daughter wants to pursue. As long as she's doing it because SHE wants to, and it is something SHE enjoys doing, then I would be absolutely 100% behind her. If she starts acting like she's not enjoying it anymore, then I'd start worrying about a screwed up childhood. :)

And her video is AMAZING. I showed that to my dds, who both stood here with open mouths and asked if THEY would ever be that strong!! :)


I would like to know what you mean, when you say, 'take it to the next level'. If she is a level 5, then you already have a 'taste' for the sport.

Are her coaches wanting her to move up, super-fast, thru the levels (i.e. 'test-out' of a level at one meet & move up quicker, rather than move up one year at a time)?

Just curious about your club and how they handle a kid like this.

I have seen/been at both types of gyms. Our last gym would still make her do an entire season per level, no matter what the talent. Another gym I know of (& dd tried but hated), would test her out & get her as high up as possible, ASAP.

I would be interested to see how her coaches/club want to handle her.

Good luck & please post back. I am sure many of us are curious. ;)
Jan 9, 2008
I agree with the others if your daughter is motivated and enjoys the sport I would support her since she is really talented. But if she does not want to continue it should be her choice. I think it takes considerable drive and motivation to continue and advance in this sport so it has to come from her desire. I don't understand what you mean by screwed up life, gymnastics teaches alot of qualities that allows girls to be sucessful in other areas of their lives. I do not think you should focus on the few fomer elite gymnasts who are now trashing the sport for publicity there are far more former gymnasts who are now sucessful adults!:)
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