For Parents Update - possible change but long commute - input appreciated!

CLgym

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Hi, all. It's me again. I appreciate all of the input I've received so far regarding my DD's gym woes (13 year old, repeat L8, lost skills). I have an update and am looking for more advice. As I've shared in my previous post, it does not appear things are going to improve for my DD if stays put at current gym. I am fine if she hangs up her grips and retires (she's explored some alternative activities this summer), but she insists that she wants to continue JO gymnastics. Things came to a bit of a head last week while we were on vacation. We all received a team email from HC which basically said, in light of the recent Simone Biles/mental health discussions, changes were being made including moving girls to Xcel and/or recommending they quit. (Ummm... ok.... although I'm not sure "cuts" are what Simone had in mind for addressing mental health). It is quite possible (likely?) that my DD falls into the group getting moved/cut. This was the catalyst my DD needed to agree to look at other gyms.

Unfortunately there are not many good gym options nearby. Without going into too much detail, there are problems with all of the relatively close gyms. Our original gym (walking distance from home) might take DD back in Xcel, but DD left specifically because they would not consider her for JO due to body type. DD won't consider going back for reasons I totally understand. There is a local park district program that DD feels is not serious enough, and a couple of gyms with weak optional programs + coaching turnover.

So we ended up trying a gym fairly far away (35 miles, to be exact). A former teammate (who moved) recommended it. The tryout started today, and will continue tomorrow, but it looks like they will take DD. Pros: This is a well established gym with many level 10's and 9's, including three D1 recruits this year. Coaches feel more approachable and were pretty unfazed by DD's problems. DD reported the girls were nice and program felt well run with many stations. Cons: Given the size of program, groups are huge; I worry that DD will slip through the cracks (she is very good at flying under the radar, especially when stressed). And, of course, the commute.

So, the commute. Ugh. I live in a large metro area, so that 35 miles can take anywhere from 40-75 minutes, depending on the time of day, weather, day of the week, accidents, etc. Current commute is 30 minutes, and I'm pretty used to it by now. Plus I have a carpool. But I'm worried about taking on a commute twice as long without a known carpool option. Looking for others to share personal experiences regarding such a commute. Will I survive it? (Note: My oldest is in college and my middle child will be a senior in high school this fall, so no littles at home.) Help!
 

Gymx2

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Will this impact your work schedule? Is the traffic situation so bad that you might have to stay at the gym for the entire practice? Have you explored back roads that might make it an easier ride (less traffic, if a less direct route)? I do about a 35 min drive for DD's gym and it's not actually that bad- you get used to it pretty quickly, but if it's going to be routinely more like 75 mins for you that is a different story. The gym sounds like a much better fit for your daughter, but I totally understand the concerns about all the driving!
 
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MILgymFAM

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I’m glad she was willing to consider another gym, even if it’s absolute bs from the current gym that opened her eyes (seriously, wtf are they thinking??). I am usually the first to say that a long commute is a huge drain on the driver and the family, but that commute doesn’t fit into my definition of long (lol) so I would say go for it. The closer options seem to be non-starts with your DD, so there is no harm in seeing how it goes at this gym for a season. When the season is over you’ll either hate the commute or have adapted (with a carpool, hopefully), and she’ll either be closer to her old self and happy, or closer to hanging up her grips having tried one last thing to try and stick with gymnastics. If the unfortunate combo of her loving it/thriving and you hating the commute comes up on the roulette wheel.. then I guess you’re back where you started with decisions, but I still say it’s probably worth a shot. The commute might even be more worth it for you if she loves gym again.
 

CLgym

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@Gymx2 -- No work schedule issue for me. And I'm pretty confident there is no fast way to get to gym, but will definitely use my phone apps! The summer and Saturday commute will be fine (practice times are at off hours; we did the drive today and it was 40 minutes each way with no stop-and-go traffic). I also think that the school year pick up time (8:30 PM) will be fine (WAZE app says the drive is about 38 minutes one way at that hour). The problem is gonna be the 4:30 PM start time. I've checked the last few days and am looking at 60-75 minutes one way. I am hoping to turn around and come home all days except Friday (Friday traffic is cray-cray), figuring that I will get about 2 hours at home before having to turn around again.

@MILgymFAM -- Your advice mirrors that of a good friend of mine. She said you can do anything for one year (and the pandemic has sure proven that to be true). In one year, we can reevaluate for sure. If in one year DD is thriving, I can probably sign on for another year of driving (especially since both my boys will be in college at that point). Or maybe I'll find a carpool before then. Or maybe DD will quit. But at least I will have given her a chance to try to turn this thing around, I guess.
 

Gymx2

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@Gymx2 -- No work schedule issue for me. And I'm pretty confident there is no fast way to get to gym, but will definitely use my phone apps! The summer and Saturday commute will be fine (practice times are at off hours; we did the drive today and it was 40 minutes each way with no stop-and-go traffic). I also think that the school year pick up time (8:30 PM) will be fine (WAZE app says the drive is about 38 minutes one way at that hour). The problem is gonna be the 4:30 PM start time. I've checked the last few days and am looking at 60-75 minutes one way. I am hoping to turn around and come home all days except Friday (Friday traffic is cray-cray), figuring that I will get about 2 hours at home before having to turn around again.
The two hours before having to turn around does suck- I had that with shorter Covid hours and it wasn't fun. But, it's also doable once you know that's what you're in for. As long as you plan ahead with meals, other family schedules, etc. it really isn't that bad. Whatever you decide, I hope you and your daughter find a good solution- her current gym sounds like it is moving in a pretty bad direction.
 
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NutterButter

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I also think you should do it! Sounds like it will be a good fit for your DD. Maybe you will be able to form a new carpool group eventually. I can’t believe your soon-to-be old gym had that reaction to the Simone Biles situation. Crazy! Good for your DD for making the decision to leave!
 
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GymAir

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I would try to not drive back home during practice at least some of the time. Maybe every other day? I bet those 2 hours at home will fly by. I’m very happy your daughter is going to try a new gym. I have no idea what they’re smoking with the statement they put out, but at least it lets you know they’re totally bonkers and it’s time to leave.
 
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kris

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I drove 40 miles each way to the only local-ish pool with dive platforms once my gymnast switched to diving. I stayed down there as her practices were only 2.5 hours. It ended up being great bonding time in the car and we both look back fondly on those two years before she decided to focus on another activity which luckily did end up being much closer to home.

Good luck with your decision.
 

B&M's mom

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Having moved a child to a gym with a similar commute in Illinois in a major metropolitan area, I totally get what you are saying. Just be aware that the reality may be different than you are expecting. The travel time doesn't accurately factor in weather, accidents or those last minute things that come up that put you behind schedule. Also going back and forth may be impractical with the traffic, the reverse commute may actually be worse than the commute. You may want to plan to spend your evenings at or near the gym. The really negative part of the experience was the fact that my daughter didn't get home until 9 pm so dinner and homework didn't start until late. She was routinely up past 11 pm trying to get everything done. Homework in the car was impossible though we tried. We never were able to find a carpool because apparently no one wanted to deal with driving to that gym from our suburb. So we ended up doing the driving both ways 6 days a week. It was a lot. However, my daughter thrived at her new gym.
 

CLgym

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@B&M's mom -- Yep to all of that. I am very familiar with the weather, accidents, etc. that impact traffic. Exactly why I am so nervous about taking on this commute. I know I will have to stay at or near the gym based on the traffic on any given day, and it will often be a last minute decision. Did you ultimately regret your decision to add a big gym commute? Or did the pros outweigh the cons?
 

ReluctantGymMom

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Do it :)

We moved to a gym an hour away. Does the commute suck? Yes. Do we pass by like
8 closer gyms on the way there? YEP. Is my kid happy, thriving, growing? Yes, so I suck it up, as long as she’s putting in effort. That’s all I ask for - work hard, because this takes a lot of sacrifice from our family. And to her credit, nearly every day, her coaches tell me what a hard worker she is. She’s by far not the best, she has a lot of catching up to do, but she’s putting in effort.
 

flippin out

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I'd have loved a 40 min on a good day commute.....I was stuck with a 75 min on a good day commute. I stayed close the gym (parks and pools during the good weather, coffee shops during bad weather). I didn't want to take the chance that something traffic wise would happen to prevent me from being there for pick up. It was already 8-8:30pm when she finished practice and there was no one even in our direction for her to "go home with" should something happen....and I didn't like the idea of me being so far away if there was a gym accident. While she could've driven herself, that was just not reasonable. To expect her to not even begin homework til 9:30-10pm? no way. So.....I drove. She did homework on the commute, I packed good meals (homecooked mostly) in thermoses and she ate on the commute. That way when she got home she only had a little bit of work to finish up (if any), could shower and unwind before bed.

If you plan things out, your commute will work great. It'll take a bit of adjusting for both of you but it's totally doable. Sounds like current gym is a dead end place for her. I'd give a new gym a try.
 

amiandjim

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I agree with the others to give it a shot. We drove that far for four years and don’t regret it at all, even though mine ultimately transitioned to dance (which is now “only” 35 minutes on a good day). I am glad we gave her the chance to succeed and feel we would have regretted not doing it.
 
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katrid11

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I would do it.

For me personally, I would pick at least 1 day a week to stay around the gym. Do your dry good shopping, bring laundry to fold in the car, read a book, etc. Not ideal but could be built in "me time" just in a different spot. I would even look for a yoga class nearby that coordinates with time....
 
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B&M's mom

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@B&M's mom -- Yep to all of that. I am very familiar with the weather, accidents, etc. that impact traffic. Exactly why I am so nervous about taking on this commute. I know I will have to stay at or near the gym based on the traffic on any given day, and it will often be a last minute decision. Did you ultimately regret your decision to add a big gym commute? Or did the pros outweigh the cons?
My DD wanted to try and qualify an elite. She had the ability but ultimately her body was unable to take the strain so she stepped back to L10 then left the sport in high school to go into diving. She's now a D1 diver and loving it. I had to think long and hard about making the move. It wasn't just the commute but the bigger gym had different parent expectations that impacted our family. Until she got her driver's license, we had to figure out a way to get her to the gym as I was at work. Our solution was to have my retired mother move in with us. She drove her to practice then came home to meet my younger daughter. I would work until it was close to time to get my DD then drive out and get her. I often didn't get home until 9 pm which made for a really long day. Once she turned 16, (she got her license the day after she turned 16)she started driving herself which was a huge help. Do we regret it? In hindsight, no, as she really wanted the chance to qualify but we do realize that she didn't have the opportunity to get involved in her schools or do any other extracurricular activities that she might have if she wasn't in the car so much. She doesn't feel any real bond with her classmates or schools. When she moved to diving, the practice requirements were much less and she was able to finally do service clubs and other fun things.
 
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PeanutsMom

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I kind of feel like we are doing this journey together. Our new gym is 28 miles away. The other one was literally on the same road as the school I work in. It has taken changes. There is only one way to get there and the bottle neck at 5pm kills me. The good news is that on the way home, it is really just 30 minutes, not an hour. The other SUPER amazing news is that my daughter is thriving. She wasn't done with gym, she was just done with THAT gym. She is working skills she wouldn't have tried 4 months ago. She is excited to compete. She is happy to go to practice and still smiling when we come home. Because it is summer I have been staying for practice (its an awful lot of gas to do 120 miles a day), but once school starts I will have to get work done and they don't have a public wifi there (ugh!). Also, she asked me to stay while she finds her footing. It has been really good and she said I can start leaving, she just wants me close by (like the Starbucks) in case she gets hurt or nervous (yes, anxiety grew tremendously at the old gym).

Today she "volunteered" at an event the gym put on for local kids. 2 sessions of "olympics" and she and a couple of her older teammates got to be the demonstrators, hand out awards and medals. She spent 6 hours at the gym on a non practice day and I could hardly get her to leave. What I am trying to say is MAKE the SWITCH for a year. See if it rekindles your DD's passion for the sport. I figure if my DD quits after this season, at least it is on her terms and not because she didn't feel good enough or wanted by the coaches.
 

bookworm

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Well as someone who had a 2 hour commute each way for 6 years, and before that it was a 70 minute commute each way for another 4 years , I say go for it! I would've killed for a shorter commute but nothing at the level my girls were at was in that radius . We did have a carpool in the 70 minute commute , that actually involved dropping kids from my area at 2 different gyms but the 2 house commute was a solo endeavor.

I stayed in the area for the whole 4 hour practices , reading, shopping , going to the beach and the people and coaches at that gym were fabulous ... so yes it was worth it. Was I sad to see that commute end? Heck no ... I used to put 1000 miles on my car a week so not doing that and having time to myself , not spent in a car or on the road, was a plus. My girls also ended practice at 9 pm and they would eat dinner in the car and do homework on the way up and back ...we figured it out and made it work.
 

doublestrike

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I did it for about 5 years, 90 minutes one way and an hour home, and I’m still not over it, I rarely drive at all anymore, covid gave me a break and she’s in college now. She’s done well in D1 gymnastics, so it was worth it. It came at a cost to me in terms of my conditioning and I RSVP no to events over 30 minutes away. It was also hard on my other 2 kids. So I don’t know what the answer is. She’s at a college she probably wouldn’t have gotten into wo gymnastics but it was her first choice and a top program. She walked on, turning down scholarships at other schools but she’s very happy. She worked hard and got academic scholarships. I may not have done it for that long if I had a do over but it’s worth trying.
 
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kris

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What I am trying to say is MAKE the SWITCH for a year. See if it rekindles your DD's passion for the sport. I figure if my DD quits after this season, at least it is on her terms and not because she didn't feel good enough or wanted by the coaches.
My DD switched gyms the year before she quit gym. The coach at her old gym was awful with her when she got a case of the “twisties.” He would yell at her until she was more scared of him than the skill and would go, which was dangerous. We moved her, and the new gym was great. They worked her through the twisties. They gave her time, space, and the whole optional team worked with a sports psychologist as a group which was a pleasant surprise when we got there. I’m sure her old gym thought her move was a “failure” because her grips broke at the state meet, she flew off the bars, and missed regionals, but it was exactly what she needed. She left the sport on her terms, happy and whole. Good luck figuring it all out.
 

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