Parents Open gym time

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Jan 1, 2010
Our gym is acquiring another gym in a nearby city. As we work to pull this gym in from being on the brink of closing down back to a competitive force, we have inherited some things with it. One is a weekly open gym. We went last night to help monitor. There were 60 kids there from kindergarten through high school. Most were not gymnasts or cheerleaders. Just kids being dropped off to for 3 hours to play. One adult is usally there. Needless to say, equipment was getting ruined. So we went with the owners last night. We had 4 adults to 60 kids. It was chaos. Sassy kids when they heard the rules about staying off equipment-no bars, beam or vault table allowed. We met afterward and decided that there needs to be structure to this. There are 2 or 3 bounce house things, inground tramp, 3 floors and 2 tumble strips. Does your open gym have a schedule to these things or organization? Lots of boys there. We confiscated a football as in the past it has torn wholes in the insulation. Some kids were stunting. Others tumbling. Lots of running around and one fight that had to be broken up. These kids have been allowed to run the gym and destroy most of it. We called 3 parents last night. Told two their kids are not allowed back. We are overwhelmed as this is so different to what we are used to. Our girls have great gym etiquette. No walking up the tumble track or across the path of someone tumbling. These kids were everywhere. We have a long road ahead of us.
Any ideas are welcomed. This is a weekly thing. It is a great money maker.
Someone should have paid you for combat duty last night. Sounds like its been this way for a long time, so I wouldn't expect changes overnight. This is really the owner's responsibility, but you need written rules and a parent has to sign them before a child is allowed in the gym. Along with the rules there should also be consequences.

I know you said its a good money maker, but personally I would limit the number of kids to less than 60! The gym could have a sign up sheet and once the number(I wouldn't let more than 35-40 in) is met, thats it for that week. Safety is the biggest concern and all you need is 1 child to get hurt and mom/dad go get a lawyer and open gym is a money pit and not money maker. Also the adults staffing the open gym should have some formal training since you would have kids on tramps, tumble trak etc.
Yes, I agree. Last night was the first night since the take over that we have seen it. We wanted to see it to see what changes needed to be made. One of the owners supervised the tramp for safety reasons. All the kids have been signed in by parents with a release form filled out. I wonder why in the past have there only been one person working this thing. That is crazy. Big changes are coming. But we need some ideas for those changes. I guess you could say that I work for the gym in a non-coach way. I run the front desk-sign up, money collecting , answering questions-non-coaching stuff. Some ideas we have-buy 2 Wii's set them up in the gym, movies, dance off. But we need more ideas to continue make this successful in a safe environment. It was chaotic.
Do you have to keep the program the same? I know it might seem like a money maker but if expensive equipment is being ruined or some kid gets hurt and sues it isn't even worth it.

Can you just do away with it? Or maybe at the least for actual open gym where equipment is used have a rule that the kid has to be enrolled in a gymnastics class and working on skills they have learned? And maybe have another "open gym" that is more like a parents night out, where most of the gym equipment is not used and like you had mentioned would be more about games, movies just generally more structured.

I have never liked the idea of "open gym" gymnastics equipment is far too dangerous to play on, add that in with kids that are crazy out of control and you have a recipe for disaster.
To attend our open gym the child has to have taken a class within the past year at the gym AND their yearly registration fees have to be up to date. Also, kids need to pre-register and the number of kids to staff is capped. In addition one staff mans each piece of equipment "open" for the night. It is not a free for all AT ALL. Kids can pick which apparatus/skills they'd like to work on and stand in the appropriate line to get a turn/some coaching.

Every once in a while the gym hosts a "kids night out" where there are bouncy houses and tumble trak open only and it is open to the general public. Once again it is very structured, controlled, and heavily staffed. There is not much free for at to it at all- there is an agenda of games, bounce equipment, snack, open tumble trak and bounce houses for only a portion of the evening and kids need to be in line to use them.
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Yes, for us the gymnastics stuff was off limits. But the kids were so rude about it. They said they have always been able to use it. No one was allowed on it. We had to remind several of them to get off of it. I guess the way to describe it was more of a parents night out. It needs serious organization.
3 hours for an open gym seems like a long time to me. Our open gyms are only an hour - to an hour and a half. Maybe you could cut the time back. The less time they are in there, the less chance for trouble. The only time we have "open gym" for 3 hours is when it is a parents and kids night out, so technically it's not like open gym. At these type of events we do structured games. Kids are broken into groups upon arrival. Each group is doing a different game simultaneously. They rotate all as a group to each coach who is in charge of something different. If your going to keep your open gym at 3 hours, I would suggest something like this. It sounds like you have plenty of space so you could have relay races going on on 1 floor, another floor could be mat tag, another for Captain Calls, the bounce houses could be one rotation, tumbling strip another etc. Also, maybe you could organize an easy craft.
With such a wide range of ages, I think you would need to split the kids into different age groups. High school kids may have different ideas about what's fun than kindergarten age kids.
The gym we attend has a structured Parents' Night Out program that is 4 hours long.

You preregister your child (and prepay). Sign them in at the start of the event.

The kids are color coded by group (mostly by age, but some ages are broken down further by current level if they're active on either team on rec). There is a minimum of one coach per group and they do active/fun things, but not necessarily "gymnastics" type things (except when they have enough team there, then it's more of a traditional open gym/extra practice for them).

Activities for the younger set are the bouncy slide, active games like duck duck goose, freeze tag, red rover, etc (which they all love - think of how rarely kids get big wide open spaces just to run), some time on the tramps, swinging on the rope, some minor things like bear crawls, wheelbarrows, crab walks, etc.

Activities for the older set are more gymnastic-y, but still mild - no equipment but tramps. They also love to make intricate paper airplanes and fly them off the observation level - they have contests of who's can do the most loops, fly the farthest, etc.

All that being said, the max age is usually probably 12, maybe 13. Definitely no high schoolers. I don't think that they're excluded, per se, but it's just not something they are interested in doing.

Over the course of the evening, the kids are also fed dinner (pizza) and usually a snack (popsicles in the summer, cookie in the winter), and the end of the night (around 9ish), the little ones chill out with a movie or short show.

It runs from 6-10 and is offered once a month.
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