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Janeway

Gymnastics parents, question

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I loved gymnastics as a child so am just fine and good with my children taking it. My older children took a home school gymnastics type class, only not much for actual gymnastics was taught which was fine as neither were in to it. But my younger children say they are in to it so I was looking for a gym that would teach it. There is a gym that is a little too far away and I let them try there this summer as they were running a special of being half price for summer only. The place was fine. But full price added with the drive, I am less interested. Plus, they focused mostly on just tumbling as it was a place that specializes in cheer. The tumbling instruction seemed pretty good though. A place that is closer to home but still 15 minutes away told us that they were going to run a 40% off sale for those who pay for the semester in advance, starting when they open enrollment. However, when open enrollment started, it ended up being 40% off only after the first class. I was still strongly leaning toward doing it. But when daughter did a sample class today, I saw many kids working on equipment with no spots. Now, I know it has been a long time since I did gymnastics. But when I was a child, and was on a team, and helped teach (which was how I paid to do it), we were always told that anyone on equipment had to have a spot. These girls were not being instructed in technique. I watched the girls have almost no warm up (I am referring to older girls, not my own daughter who was in a beginner class). Then they were told to get on the beams and do cartwheels. In my opinion, any girl working at the level to do cartwheels on the beam should have spent a considerable amount of time warming up, not the two minute warm up they had. These girls were wobbly on the beam. Most of them did not seem to be concerned with form. The teacher was off to the side working with one student, but was very hands off. Eventually, she came over and had the girls sit to the side while each one went one at a time to show what they worked on. I saw one girl fall and slam her leg against the beam so hard she had to have been hurt (but I did not see as she ducked down to the seat and I was not in a place where I could see the area she went to). The instructor never gave any feed back or instruction during this time. She never corrected anyone on their form and there was a lot of sloppy form going on.

 

I left just feeling like..I don't want to bother going here. This is a waste. Even with my daughter's own beginner class, they never practiced any tumbling. They had a little better of a warm up. If I had not been watching the older girls, I would not have been as concerned. But, the instructor really never corrected anything or gave instruction. He gave instructions at the beginning and while he worked at one spot, the girls rotated through the areas. It seemed to me it would be better to have more instructors even if the class needed to be bigger. Or do what the gym I went to did which was give discount rates to team girls who help teach lower classes. 

 

Anyone who is in the know...do you think this just sounds like a lazy gym? It feels unsafe to me. I wanted them to have some good gymnastics instruction, but this does not feel like the place.

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I wouldn't feel comfortable with what you describe. It doesn't sound safe to me. (DS14 and DD16 were both competitive gymnasts in the past).

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My DD9 is a competitive gymnast. Some of those things seem normal less so its hard to say from just reading.  Our level 1 classes had a warm up running or games than stretching their should not be more than 1 -2 bridges too many bridges is a big red flag.  Than they will work on basics skills and body shape often jumping on the trampoline or handstand drills.   

Than work an event coaches often setup 3-4 stations depending on the class size, If there are 4 stations 3 will be something they can do independently and 1 will be with the coach and spotted. 

For a skill like cartwheel on beam they will typically work it on a floor beam than when they hit that a certain number of times a low beam and than the full beam with a coach and than finally without a coach.  But things like walking on the beam, and turns will all be done as one large group and only an exceptionally nervous child would have a dedicated spot.  

So yes it can be normal to be on the equipment without a spotter but what your describing doesn't sound right.  

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10 minutes ago, rebcoola said:

My DD9 is a competitive gymnast. Some of those things seem normal less so its hard to say from just reading.  Our level 1 classes had a warm up running or games than stretching their should not be more than 1 -2 bridges too many bridges is a big red flag.  Than they will work on basics skills and body shape often jumping on the trampoline or handstand drills.   

Than work an event coaches often setup 3-4 stations depending on the class size, If there are 4 stations 3 will be something they can do independently and 1 will be with the coach and spotted. 

For a skill like cartwheel on beam they will typically work it on a floor beam than when they hit that a certain number of times a low beam and than the full beam with a coach and than finally without a coach.  But things like walking on the beam, and turns will all be done as one large group and only an exceptionally nervous child would have a dedicated spot.  

So yes it can be normal to be on the equipment without a spotter but what your describing doesn't sound right.  

The place we went to that specialized in cheer had them warm up, including the beginning class, where they did stretches and laps and other kids of exercises. None of that happened with this older class. The other place spent a good 15 minutes doing those things before they got to work on other things.

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The gym I am familiar with is not a competitive one, so keep that in mind. Warm up is 15-20 min for a 55 min class. (Completely inefficient, IMO - could be done in 10 min if the girl leading it is on the ball even with all the misbehavior that goes on.)

Class is split into two groups. One group goes off with the teacher and the other with a teen or young adult helper. Usually multiple stations set up depending on what they are working on. Uneven bar work is always one at a time and directly supervised by the teacher. Very little else falls under that level of supervision. No spotters on balance beams usually. Lots of focus on technique when teaching, but not a lot of guidance on practice at home (tumbling, strength building).

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I was a gymnastics coach for a long time. Some of what you're describing is normal - I would never spot a cartwheel on beam. Once you can do one on the floor, you practice on a line on the floor, then a low beam, and move up when you feel ready. Paying attention to form will depend on the type of class - if I'm teaching an intermediate class of gymnasts that are excited to learn new skills but don't have any plans on competing, I'm going to be less focused on form and more focused on helping them learn their new skills. I'd certainly mention knees and toes, but I wouldn't focus on it like I would with a kid that's getting ready to compete. 

If you're looking for a discount gym, you're going to get a discount gymnastics experience. Gymnastics is an expensive sport - equipment costs are super expensive as is insurance and just the basics of electricity and heat/AC in a gym. Gyms will get good coaches if they pay them competitively, so if it were me, I'd not look for the cheapest option. Take a look at the gyms in your area - if you think your daughter is rec focused, look for a gym with a great rec program. If she seems like she'd be interested/have the aptitude for a team environment, look for the gym with the most gymnasts in high school on team. Gymnastics numbers naturally go down as kids get older - lots of little level 3's and 4's, and way fewer 9's and 10's. But, some gyms will be disproportionately all younger kids and have almost no older kids. In my experience, those are the gyms that push too hard and have coaches who are too strict. You want a nice balance and if you can find a gym that graduates seniors regularly, it's a good sign, especially if they come back to help coach too. That means they've enjoyed their experience and didn't get burnt out. 

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Cheer gyms will tend to spend a lot of time on warm up and conditioning. Cheer tumbling is power tumbling, so it’s trained accordingly, and strength training is imperative for cheer. There will often be separate classes for flexibility and sometimes for strength/weight training as well. For a cheer gym, look for USAG trained tumbling coaches, not just USASF trained ones (because USASF focuses more on stunt safety training than tumbling progressions, and cheer only trained coaches tend to push for a faster progression at the expense of technique. USAG coaches will also train technique and often lead to a slower progression, but stronger overall skills). Most cheer gyms have a “pay one price, come as many times in the week as you want, and usually have classes for each level 5-6 days a week (often multiple times a day). There are fewer levels-DD went from working on level 3 USAG to a level 1 cheer tumbling, and her cousin went from level 5 gymnastics to level 2 cheer. 

 

The tradeoff is that cheer gyms won’t use much apparatus, except for trampolines. If you’re really lucky, you can find a gym that both does cheer and T&T  or Power Tumbling. 

 

 

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Poor form tends to happen a lot in recreational level gymnastics classes. The teachers focus on teaching the kids new skills over perfecting current ones, mostly because the kids aren't going to compete, they just want to have fun and learn to do neat tricks, and parents want to make sure they get exercise.

At DD's gyms (yes, she attends multiple ones - one that teaches USAG/TAAF artistic gymnastics, one that does Tumbling and Trampoline, and one that does cheer. She really, really loves gymnastics and tumbling), the older kids in more advanced rec AG classes (cartwheels on beam would be an advanced rec class) do get a lot less spotting time. I would assume the girls had worked their way up to the regular beams from the floor, though. 

Do you want your kids to learn to tumble, or use equipment? At the rec level, you're better off going to a cheer or T&T gym for tumbling.

DD's cheer gym does the most warming up and conditioning, but has the slowest skill progression because they focus on technique (this gym focuses on competition, and the tumbling classes are meant to help their team cheerleaders learn and master tumbling skills). Seriously, DD and her classmates have been doing walkovers and handsprings for 2 years. They finally started having DD work on tucks in the last 6 months, and she is just mentally done; we are dropping this gym next month. Her walkovers, cartwheels, handsprings, etc. are beautiful, though. 

T&T is fun for kids because over half the class is trampoline instruction. We got started there because DD loved jumping on a trampoline and the instruction was much cheaper than either a cheer gym or an AG one. They definitely get a workout, and the one DD attends has a decent mix of stretching/conditioning, plus practice and learning new skills. 

All that said, it may take awhile to find a gym both you and your kids like. DD loved one gym when she was little, but I hated it because they only wanted to teach kids who were naturally good at gymnastics, and basically ignored the other kids. DD was one of the "other" kids. We tried another cheer gym, which I liked partly because they had cameras in the gym so parents could watch their kids in the waiting room, but DD did not, for multiple reasons. Another was awesome but WAY too far after we moved.

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My boys are both competitive gymnasts at a highly regarded gym and I work there as well.  What you described is pretty typical of spotting at all the levels.  The coach will set up stations to have the kids rotate through and will be spotting at the most difficult one.  They may not be able to complete every skill at the stations they are working on alone, but they continue to try.  The coaches do keep an eye on the other stations and will sometimes pause with the student they are working with and correct or help another child if they need a reminder of how to do a skill or just a small boost to accomplish something.  I personally prefer that over having all the kids wait their turn with the coach.  Then I'm paying for them to just sit around.  In regards to warm up, that does seem a little light, but not too bad.  In an hour long class our kids warm up for about 10 minutes or so.  In the longer classes (my boys are 2.5 hours each) they are warming up longer, but also doing more strength training.  

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I also have a 3 year old daughter who adores gymnastics. I personally was also a gymnast up until my teenage years (20 years ago), and I has always wanted my daughter to get into the sport. After watching some video clips from the USA Olympic Trials, and my daughter was hooked! She is constantly doing vaults, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor routines all over the house. She wants to wear beautiful leotars, take classes. Is this a suitable age to start?

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Most gyms will have preschool classes that are mostly just building up skills. Very young children should not be working backbends or walkovers,  but can start working on forward rolls, donkey kicks, walking on a line and a low beam, pullovers on bars. And there are lots of cute practice leotards out there. Etsy is a good place to look, and Target has some nice options for that age, but many gyms will have a pro shop with Leos, too. Another possibility is the tank top/shorts combo that is more common for cheer practice wear-there are some seriously blingy and cute ones, and they are a little easier for a child who isn’t long past toilet training if your gym allows them.

 

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Gym classes for 3 year olds can be fun but she would probably get as much benefit from finding all the playgrounds in town, walking along the tops of walls etc.  The class is more to give you a chance to talk to other parents.

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Hi folks. I know this is a total abuse of "I'm a first-timer", but I'm desperate. All other threads dedicated to this subject are long abandoned and I need an advice real soon.
The plot is: Anna (7) is having her first competition in 6 weeks. I know it's a small scale stuff, but she's really nervous. And since you were talking about body type... well she's really slim, even for her age. So I thought about custom tailoring (on a budget though). Is it worth ordering it from abroad? I've found so far only this one that I like: https://rg-leotard.com/rhythmic_gymnastics, but I'm not sure about the seller. Has anybody ever ordered from Russia. Is it safe? I can't find any other manufacturer who does this at this price range. I know this is a bit of overkill for the first competition, but Anna has this anxiety and I thought a nice outfit might make her more confident. Also would appreciate any sort of personal experience with this matter.

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First of all, is she allowed to do custom? I’m used to teams having a standard competition Leo. Usually the company rep will come to the gym and measure so the fit is somewhat custom, and extremely Slim for age/height isn’t all that uncommon among gymnasts. It’s something they have dealt with before.  

If you can do custom, have  you checked Etsy? Many people there do custom work. My experience with ordering anything overseas is to allow at least 2 months, which you don’t have, and I’d want to allow at least 3 to be safe from the time the design is finalized and is ready to start being made since this is a one off, not a standard item that they can just pull from the shelf and ship. 

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