Parents Open Gym -is this a worthwhile thing?

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Proud Parent
Jan 22, 2014
I am trying to decide if I should take my daughter to open gym at her new gym. It's a bit inconvenient for us but if it will help her to improve I am willing to do it. What normally goes on at open gym? My daughter (age 6) is a fairly new gymnast with few skills that she can do on her own (cartwheel, roundoff). With few skills that couldn't be practiced on the mat we have at home is their any point to open gym? Are there generally coaches at open gym who can give some pointers/help or are they really just there for safety?
It really depends on the open gym. At our gym, Open Gym is Rare, but when we do have it, the coaches are willing to give pointers or spot if you ask (we always have plenty of coaches when we actually have an open gym).
We have also attended open gym at 2 other gyms... the first one, I had specifically asked about the possibility of getting help before we even went. They said to ask for a specific coach and she could help (but she was only there on one of the days we went). The other gym, its a "luck of the draw" thing. We have gone and coaches (or very knowledgeable 19 year old guys) were able to give pointers or spot a little... but other times, the girls running it were just sitting along a wall, chatting until the owner walked in with about 15 minutes to go in the open gym. That gym has a total of 3 hours, but the first hour and a half ANYBODY 2-18 can come. The last hour and a half is limited to team gymnasts (theirs or other teams) and cheerleaders. That is usually when you have the chance to be spotted (because the first half, they are trying to keep everyone safe and prevent the little kids from running onto the trampoline while somebody is flipping, for example).

I would suggest that you inquire about the possibilities and then decide :)
Ours is rec focused, no team-only time (wish there were!). And even for new kids wanting some help, ours is hit and miss, too. It depends who shows up. If there are a few kids really interested in learning something, the rec coach/attendant (usually a teenager) might help spot them a few times on something basic (like a pullover) or help set up the springboard and mat and show them a move. But most times kids come in just to run around and throw the foam blocks and swing on the bars/rope and flop on the mats like a playground. The attendant usually ends up playing with the playful kids most of the time and just monitoring safety. My DD went when she was brand new, and sorta practiced a few times when she was learning the bridge kickover and the back hip circle, but all it took was a couple other kids to run around and be crazy, and she stopped practicing and joined the crazy (of course!) o_O:D We don't go anymore now that she is almost L3. It's basically a playground we have to pay a small fee for, so not worth it for us. I'm sure they vary widely, though!
Really depends.

At the age of 6 with few skills under her belt it will be an opportunity for her to do the same stuff she does in class on her own.

This really works well if she is a kid that does things well on her own.

In the past, I've always run them with way more supervision, splitting up groups per event or areas of the gym with rec kids but generally giving Team kids a wider berth and often more direction (that they can work on themselves).
My kids' gym has somewhat different formats for boys and girls. For the girls, they usually have coaches at every event but vault and there are half hour rotations, but the girls pick whatever event they want and work on whatever they want. For the boys, there's only one coach, so he tries to keep the cats herded in the same general area of the gym. He has some die hard regulars (primarily my guy, who's level 5, and one of his L9 teammates), but beyond them, he can have anything and everything from L4 to L10. If he has a pack of L4s, he lets the bigger guys work more independently and occasionally drops in to give some tips.

Definitely worth it for both of my gymnasts. DD got her kip by going to open gym every week and doing two rotations on bars (or going until the coach kicked her off!).
What I've always liked about open gym is my daughter going and have control of the environment without a coach telling her what to do. She may work on skills, She may challenge the boys to obstacle course racing, or she may just build a fort with the pit blocks. It keeps the gym fun for her.
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As long as it's a safe environment and not cost-prohibitive, it's great. It's hot where we live, so affordable indoor activities are precious commodities. My DD usually spends some time practicing whatever bar skill she's working on (her fave) and then plays. It keeps gym fun.
DD would love it, but she'd do all her skills with terrible form if the coach weren't paying attention to her, and I wouldn't want bad form reinforced.
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At DD's gym, open gym is rec only and usually packed. HC has told all the parents that it is off limits, especially those times on Friday an Saturday nights because there have been a few of the older team girls who got hurt at open gym.
At our gym, open gym is a mix of rec and team, and they try to do rotations to keep the groups separate. There are team coaches with the team rotation. That said, I notice that very few of the older and/or upper level girls stay for open gym. I think some of it is that it's hard to do some upper-level skills in a somewhat chaotic/crowded environment, and some of it is for the same reasons that DD doesn't do gymnastics at home any more... she gets enough of it in her regular daily practices. She used to ALWAYS want to stay for open gym... for social reasons as much as anything else. But now she is staying less and less, as are her friends. Kind of a shame, since that used to be a place where I could see what she was working on, and I got to hang out and talk to my friends too, but getting home at a reasonable hour on Friday nights is nice too. I do wish there was a "team only" open gym. That would be more fun/productive for them, I think.
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At our gym, open gym is for everyone and there is no coach spotting or structured activities, just a freeforall. The team gymnasts are actually told that they are not allowed to work on anything but what they already have cemented down. They can play around, but not work on skills they don't have yet. The girls do "practice" fun stuff on floor but nothing too out of their league and they're not allowed to do vault or high bar stuff.
It's a good opportunity for rec kids to work on cartwheels and stuff like that, and to have unstructured (but supervised for safety) fun on the apparatus but to go solely for the purpose of learning a new skill wouldn't be recommended at our gym.
Our open gym is open only to certain team members. It is structured with stations/coaches directing what the gymnasts do. I don't consider it a real open gym.....more like a non-mandatory practice.
We often have private lessons going on during open gym, and there are team girls there (our Optionals practice overlaps open gym - our gym is pretty small). For me, we tend not to go because I don't feel there's enough supervision and I worry my DD will get hurt doing things without proper form.
I took DD to the open gym for the first time a couple of weeks ago. She loved it, I didn't. Tons of people, only 2-3 coaches. When she tried to practice her robhs on the floor, she almost jumped over someone. So, she ended up just fooling around with her friends, and not really practicing. I don't think we'll be going back any time soon.
A She used to ALWAYS want to stay for open gym... for social reasons as much as anything else. But now she is staying less and less, as are her friends.

I could have written your post nearly verbatim. I do think age makes a difference. I loved it when DD wanted to go to open gym because it kept gym fun. And I think the extra time in the gym helped. As the practice hours (and homework) have increased, the extra time in the gym isn't as attractive.

DD got her kip before theL4 (new L3) season started in part because she kept working on it at open gym (she's kind of a natural bar girl though).

DD's new gym discourages open gym because they don't want the girls to develop bad habits. I kind of understand, but the gym owner used to be there when we went to open gym at the other location and would stop any monkey business from proceeding.
Open gym for us is a complete free for all open for the general public mostly. Our team girls are actually NOT encouraged to go during competition season so they don't get hurt.
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