Parents Question about open gym

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patches lee

Proud Parent
Jan 23, 2014
DD just started gymnastics classes 2 weeks ago. I took her to open gym before signing her up to see if she was interested in it enough for classes. She only goes 1 hour a week, and still wants to go to open gym. Its all ages and alot of the older girls are there. Call me paraniod but I usually walk around with her so I can watch her on balance beam or bars. Point out where NOT to stand when girls are on something. Just get her used to whats okay. There is only 1 coach there and I dont expect them to watch her. Last Saturday we went and there and had a few younger kids, one still in diapers running around with parents sitting on the bleachers talking. I don't know how many times older girls were stopping tumbling on the tramp or stopped praticing beam cause little ones could have been landed on. So am I missing something? Like no parents ever on the floor? If so I don't think Im okay with DD going to open gym anymore. There is no sign or anything written anywhere, and no coach has asked me not to walk with her.
DD and her teammates have occasionally practiced during open gym and personally, I wish there were more parents like you there. We have seen that scenario often where the team girls almost hit a small child because the parents let them run around everywhere! You are definitely doing it right.
At our open gym, you have to be careful tumbling etc. during open gym because kids don't always watch where they are going, but under 5 parents are required to go out with them and watch. Over 5 parents aren't allowed because they will be out there trying to spot back handsprings, and teaching skills. The coaches will do that :)
The open gyms around here aren't suitable for optionals for just the reasons you mentioned. It's an indoor playground for most parents and rather than any gymnastics, you just have a bunch of kids running around the entire gym, playing tag, throwing themselves around onto mats, and paying no attention to anyone who might be working an actual skill.

And the staff looks like high school, MAYBE college kids who seem to be just there to put in hours and get a paycheck. They stand in groups of twos and threes, talking to one another or stand off sneaking in looks at their cell phones. They don't offer any spotting or instruction, which is probably a good thing. But they don't offer any discipline or boundaries either unless a kid is just totally out of control.

My DD went once over the summer during the week our gym was closed and said she would never be desperate enough for gym to go back. She said one of the staff members told her she couldn't work tumbling on the high beam even after DD told her what level she competed. There was no chalk for the bars. And forget finding any space to work on tumbling passes. She fought with the equipment/limitations for about 40 minutes before coming to me in disgust and asking if I would just take her home.

Now the only open gym she goes to is one at our gym that is only offered to certain team members and is very structured. She is told what equipment to work on and given skills/basics she can work on before being given some time for upskills.....WITH a coach.

ETA: I forgot to talk about your parents question. In the crazy open gym, only parents who had littles (4 and under, I believe) could be on the floor. At our open gym, absolutely not.
We have a separate open gym time for kids 5 and under. 6+ open gym always seems to have plenty of coaches keeping the kids corralled into groups of similar skills/size. I would be terrified to see littles running around during tumbling passes!
We also have separate open gyms for preschool and for grade school plus. They are also very well staffed and pretty well organized. They limit the number of kids who can attend to make sure they aren't caught off guard without adequate staff. They are mostly high school and college kids, but they don't just stand around talking to each other. They are each assigned an area of the gym that they are responsible for watching. Some play with the kids more, and some spot the kids and do some actual coaching.
@Moxiegrl83, The open gym that we go to is kind of similar... under 5, the parent is SUPPOSED to be out there with them and keeping a CLOSE eye on them... but that doesn't stop them from running onto the tumble track or the floor or trampoline while someone else is tumbling. Luckily, this particular gym does 1.5 hours that anyone can do and the last 1.5 hours is only open for team gymnasts and cheerleaders and the 4-5 guys who use the gym to train for parkour :). So... we have to be careful for the early part (especially the day that a mom had decided to have part of her daughter's 4th b-day party at Open Gym... with NO WARNING to the gym... 25 children aged 3-6 in addition to all the ones that came on their own... and only 2 coaches there. AND, this is a gym that offers birthday parties too... that have to be planned for in advance.)
Of course the OP wouldn't be allowed in the 2nd part yet, so not much help. To her, just keep doing what you do. You are a good parent... maybe some of the others will take the hint (or ask the gym what their policy is... maybe that will be enough for them to realize it needs posted somewhere).
I am definetly going to ask the gym about their policy again. If I'm not allowed with her she just won't go. Much of her time is spent on high beam, if course trying to jump a couple inches lol. And trying forward or backward rolls on the low bar. Jumping on the spring board sometimes. (I really need to learn skill names) Much more than that and she will need someone else watching her anyway. It seems like 1 coach at open gym isn't the norm either. About 20 kids on the busy days.
Not having adequate staff at open gym is a mess. Our coaches are spread out, watching/helping each area of the gym. A lot of our team girls come to open gym, and they do have to be a little more careful for kids running around, but generally that's only on floor. There are around 5 main areas in the gym, and a coach watched each area to help spot and keep the little rug rats from getting in the way :)
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Our gym's open gym is only for kids age 6 and up. They will make an exception for a 5yo who is on preteam and is used to the gyms rules. There is a separate open gym for preschoolers. It's still a mad house in there though, it's super crowded. Luckily we have bars and beams in the back that are only open to team girls. It's pretty impossible to work on floor and vault though.
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