For Parents Should we switch to a new gym???

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Proud Parent
Oct 24, 2017
Can you give some advice?

My dd just finished competing in compulsories at state, and she’s been accepted to another gym (actually a few others, but there’s one that’s our top choice). We’re trying to decide if she should stay at her current gym or switch to the new gym. Can I share a few of the differences and hear your opinions?

Our current gym is owned by a man who has a very hot temper and will never speak to the parents about anything. The compulsory coaches quit every few months, and only one has remained for the past several years and she always seems irritated, cranky, and will never speak to a parent accept for about 2 minutes after receiving a check for a private lesson with her. There are around 20 compulsory gymnasts who are being coached by 2 coaches. They split the group in half and each coach rotates events. Conditioning is very intense for 1 hour up to 90 minutes at a time, 4 times a week. My dd was once so exhausted during conditioning to the point that she had to use her inhaler and vomited in the bathroom. The coach shouted at her: “What are you doing!” and never even went to check on her. Many times, I have watched my dd practicing completely by herself with no coach near her on floor, beam, and bars. Others parents have told me that they have seen their kids do the same thing for up to an hour sometimes. We cannot complain to the owner or the coaches, nor can we ask questions. All the parents seem to live in fear that if you stir up trouble you could have your child kicked out of the gym at any time. I even saw a young girl once get scolded by the owner and sent to the dressing room to wait for her parents to come pick her up after supposedly her parents had angered the owner about something, and I felt so bad for the gymnast. :(

I think most of us parents of the compulsory girls put up with these things because many of the optional girls have been very successful at regional and a few at national levels. We all wonder if our daughters could someday become amazing once they reach the optional level and have a chance to train directly with the owner and the other successful optional coach, but then I wonder if my daughter will ever get the encouragement and support she needs to even reach that level to get to train with them.

The “stars” of the gym appear to have private lessons almost every day (I could never afford to pay for that), and they get all the personal attention from the owner while it almost appears like the rest of the optional girls often get overlooked and are practicing alone like my dd and her friends in compulsories are often doing. I am afraid to even state my dd’s age and what compulsory level she just completed here for fear I could be found out for even coming on here to get advice and I feel like that is so ridiculously unhealthy- yet here I am!

We found a sweet, healthy, encouraging gym that accepted my dd to train there, but my dd is having so many second thoughts and is really resisting to change. They coach 4-5 girls at time, and I’ve heard from other parents there that the girls are never alone for long amounts of time to train themselves like they are at our current gym. (We were also accepted at a couple of other gyms within an hour of our home -we can’t bear to drive further- but those gyms didn’t interest my daughter at all).

Dd thinks the new gym’s coaches are “too nice.” She has become used to her current coaches who are never complimentary or encouraging and says the new coaches “aren’t challenging enough” because they praise and encourage her and don’t yell and criticize her, rolling their eyes at her and threatening to move her down a level like her current gym does. She also is devastated the new gym doesn’t have a foam pit (is this really a big, big deal??). The new gym has many optional girls who score decently, last year at least 1 was accepted to a good university’s gymnastics team, and they sent a couple of girls to JO nationals, I believe. I don’t think anyone has ever reached elite at the new gym at least in recent years, but some have at our current gym. I met two of the new gym's 4 coaches for compulsories, and they were both so incredibly kind, approachable, offering their personal contact information to me for any questions. I especially appreciated the feedback from one of the new coaches that dd appears to be in her head too much, worrying about being a perfectionist in every detail, and that she would hope to help dd learn to trust herself and her abilities to more naturally do the moves and allow herself to enjoy what she is doing. Yes, I am all for her enjoying herself! There has been way too much anxiety and fear over the last few years!

I don't understand it, but dd looks up to our original gym owner so much. She is afraid of him, but also in awe of him, too. She dreams of training with him someday, and that's one of the main reasons she doesn't want to quit before she has a chance to be in optionals and train with him. Every once in a while she’ll be ecstatic and tell me, “Mom! He said my floor routine was better tonight! He said better, mom!!!” because she’s so used to his criticisms about her skills. I honestly worry all the time that the owner will kick my daughter out for not being special enough, or the owner hearing we tried out at other gyms, or that my dd will vomit again during conditioning or look like she’s about to pass out like she did one night after she was sent to do a SECOND hour of conditioning all on her own because the owner said she wasn’t as strong as her other teammates and needed to do more.

Do I just tell my dd that I’m making the decision for her that it’s time to get out of this unhealthy environment and go somewhere else? Or, do I let her decide if she wants to stay at her current gym?

Also, am I overreacting to the gym owner? Is it normal and not a big deal that parents can never have a conversation with him and that the gymnasts are often training themselves unless they are a favorite or have private lessons every day? Is it ok how critical he is, too?

I would love to hear your feedback, and thank you so much for reading this lengthy post..



Proud Parent
Feb 6, 2014
Twin Cities
It sounds to me like you know what you want to do and you just want confirmation that you aren’t crazy and it isn’t ok to treat the girls the way your current gym does. I can do that. It’s not ok. The way it’s written here the coaches’ behavior is not acceptable and your DD doesn’t *seem* to be in a healthy headspace about it all to get a say. Personally, I would make the decision for her. I’ve done it in the past for my girl and my only regret was not doing it sooner.
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Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
I think you just need to reread your first 3 paragraphs to know that you already have your answer. Get her out of that unhealthy environment - now... It's nice to let your dd have a voice, but not if it risks long term mental and possibly physical damage.


Staff member
Gold Membership
Sep 4, 2008
Switch now! You are the parent, do not give your child a choice. She should not be treated like that and neither should you. You should not be afraid of a man you are paying to teach your daughter. There are so many red flags in your post, any one of them could have you running as fast as you can.

Search the threads on CB about changing gyms, there are many.

Please hang around we have an awesome community of gym families here.


Apr 28, 2017
The description of the head coach and your daughter's reaction to him - those are classic signs of an abusive relationship. Do you want to teach your daughter that it's desirable to chase the capricious approval of a mercurial man whose habit of taking out emotion on innocent bystanders leads people to live in fear of him?


Proud Parent
Jan 13, 2010
Do I just tell my dd that I’m making the decision for her that it’s time to get out of this unhealthy environment and go somewhere else?


The description of the head coach and your daughter's reaction to him - those are classic signs of an abusive relationship. Do you want to teach your daughter that it's desirable to chase the capricious approval of a mercurial man whose habit of taking out emotion on innocent bystanders leads people to live in fear of him?

THIS^^^^ 100%!!!!!


Proud Parent
Sep 4, 2009
I mean, you pretty much said, "my daughter currently trains with the devil himself, should I make her switch to the gym whose coaches are absolute angels?" You know what you want to do, you are the parent, just do what you think is best.

I don't understand "they sent a couple girls to JO nationals, I believe". All the results are online, would be easy to look that up.


Proud Parent
Dec 8, 2016
It's time to switch. Let's say theoretically that keeping her at the current gym gives your daughter her best chance at going elite. First of all, that's a stretch because there is a LOT that can happen between compulsories and elite - injuries, burn out, mental blocks - none of us know when those might strike, and they can happen to any child, no matter how talented. But, forgetting all that and assuming her current gym has the advantage in upper level training. Is it really worth the slim shot at elites? Is it worth the physical and mental abuse? Is it worth the fear and bad communication? Is any medal at ANY competition worth degrading your daughter's self esteem to the point where she feels uncomfortable with kindness? I think if you really check in with yourself you'll find that the answer to all if these is no. Send her to the new gym, if the lack of a pit really turns into an issue you can always reevaluate but give your daughter a chance to work with supportive, kind coaches - she may discover she's even more successful with them!


Proud Parent
Mar 26, 2013
You need to get her out of there. No gymnastics success is worth being verbally abused by adults. My daughter has coaches that are very tough in the gym (and yes, sometimes kids cry during conditioning) but the kids are never berated or put down. They are challenged constantly but also know they are very cared about and there is lots of positive feedback as well. Parents feeling like the situation you described is ok is so upsetting to me. It's not. These are children. They will be done with gymnastics within the 10 years, but they will be humans for the rest of their lives.


Proud Parent
Aug 30, 2012
Run as fast as you can AWAY from anyone in your daughter’s life that treats her that way and elicits that reaction from her. Her coach is her gymnastics TEACHER. Would you let her Math or Science teacher treat her that way? My guess is no.

Editing to add: this cannot be your daughters choice. Her choice should be to either help you select a new gym or find a new activity. Staying at this gym is not one of the options.


Proud Parent
Aug 24, 2013
Well obviously, current gym is unacceptable and you know it. What you are talking about occurring at the current gym displays an abusive culture, and in fact describes a cult of personality around this head coach. Yuck and shudder. No. It is about time we parents learn to not trust our kids to controlling coaches and the abusive cultures they create.

So, let's look at your daughter's concerns.

Dd thinks the new gym’s coaches are “too nice.” She has become used to her current coaches who are never complimentary or encouraging and says the new coaches “aren’t challenging enough” because they praise and encourage her and don’t yell and criticize her, rolling their eyes at her and threatening to move her down a level like her current gym does.
So your daughter is only able to be motivated by nastiness? I doubt it. If she is that driven, she can self motivate, and of course learning to self motivate is vital for a successful life. She can always ask her coaches for more corrections if she thinks they are being too easy on her.

She also is devastated the new gym doesn’t have a foam pit (is this really a big, big deal??).
I would think this is, actually, a pretty big deal. But that is likely because my kids always trained at a gym with pits and they use them a lot while developing skills, so that is what they and their coaches are used to. They have them so they use them. But the prospective gym is apparently training optionals just fine without a pit so I would suggest ask the coaches there about how they work around it. According to my son who is an optional, if a gym has a "resi" mat, that could replace much of what a foam pit is used for.


Proud Parent
Dec 13, 2010
I think that you have made up your mind about current gym so this is really a conversation about new gym options and what you and your daughter are looking for.

What most of it comes down to is what are your daughters goals and realistic outlook at this point? Yes yes, everyone I know it isn’t always about college and most kids dont get there. But, if you want the possibility and a shot at a D1 program then you really need to take that into consideration and you are switching gyms right now and setting her up for success now will be crucial. Choosing a program that isn’t capable of that at this point could, and I said could (of course there are always exceptions) end up throwing her off course.

I am leaving elite out of the conversation as you wouldn’t be considering a new gym like this if that was really on option. Definitely not saying you would need to stay at abusive gym to do elite, but a more positive established elite environment would be needed and if doesn’t sound like that fits the new gym’s mold. You do not need to be producing elite gymnasts to produce high level college bound gymnasts. They are different beasts and many many gyms produce amazing college gymnasts without having an elite program.

If you are not really looking for D1 college gym then new gym sounds great and your daughter will likely adjust to the nicer coaching and hopefully have a positive experience.

I will just give a little insight based on having recently switched gyms and having been around, learned a lot and raised a level 10 very driven gymnast. If you are looking for a D1 gymnastics as a future possibility then I give this perspective.

The no pit scenario would be a deal killer for me. Colleges are looking more and more for harder and harder skills, more along the lines of what you saw elite level gymnasts doing only a few years ago. This includes E level tumbling, bigger and bigger vaults and E level bar dismounts. I simply cannot imagine learning a full in on floor, a yurchenko 1.5 or a double layout off bars or on floor without a pit. It is terrifying to watch as it is and really scary for the kids too. A pit I think would be essential. I know that gyms live without them and make due with progressing in different ways and it can be done, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best or safest way to go about it. As a mom of a level 10 working on this level of difficulty skills I can tell you first hand that I hold my breath from the moment she steps out of the car to the moment she walks through the door at night. Only when I can hold her in my arms safe and sound can I easily breath again. This is no joke, for real.

Regarding the new coaches being too nice I think there could be a couple things going on. Yes, I guess she could be reacting to the fact that she has been used to being yelled at but I also might think it is a possibility she is reacting to a lower level of intensity and expectation at the new gym and she just doesn’t know how else to articulate it other than to say they are too nice.

Although it obviously isn’t good that she threw up, an hour to 90 minutes of intense conditioning is not a bad thing. At the compulsory level my daughter was conditioning at this level and even now at level 10 although it is more maintenance, they still condition instensly for 45 minutes to an hour every day. You have to be very strong to do optional level gymnastics and laying that foundation early works a lot better, at least from our experiences. So, if the new gym doesn’t have a strong conditioning program that would also be a deal killer for me.

A coach can be nice and still have high expectations, give pointed corrections and progress with intensity. A coach can also be nice and not give any corrections and leave a child to motivate and progress themselves, which can be very frustrating to a child that has grown up in a highly structured program. Feeling all alone out there can be quite defeating. Just saying that I might dig a little deeper on what your dd means by too nice. What is it that she likes and is looking for in a coach? She may not know this but a deeper level conversation may lead to more insight. What does she like about current program and coach or owner. What is she worried she is going to miss out on if she leaves? Is it the coaches personalities or the way they run training that is frustrating her? What are some differences between old program and new program? Which of these are good or bad?

My final thought would be what other programs do you have as choices and why did she say no way to them? Do her thoughts on that change if she knows she cant stay at current gym? I know that when we were looking (our whole team needed to find new gyms) that several of the girls were fighting against going to some of the rival gyms because of preconceived notions they had about that gym. Once moving was the only option and looking with a more open mind, several ended up at places they never would have considered initially because they were closed off to it or fighting and grieving the fact that they had to leave a gym they loved.

Even though there were hiccups and struggles and a lot of fretting along the way, all the girls are now at gyms where they are happy and thriving and what each of them needed was different. Some went to softer less intense programs, some went to the one that felt the most familiar, some went to the best place they could find closest to home and others went to places that felt like a fresh start and even a step up. Each kid and family had their own reasons and motivations and goals to meet and that was directly reflected in the gym that they chose.

My point is I guess, are you absolutely sure that one of the other gyms wouldn’t be the right fit as it seems like the two you are trying to decide between are very different and this would be not only a gym switch but possibly a decision to take gymnastics a lot less seriously and change what the end goals are. Of course, I have no idea what your dd’s goals or capabilities are so this is all just my perspective and speculation.

Good luck in your decision and I really hope you find a great fit for your daughter. Keep us posted!
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