Tips to Finding a Gymnastics Center
Gymnastics is a sport that children of all ages can enjoy. It is not only fun, but it is also a great way for kids to develop balance, control and coordination. In addition, it helps children learn new skills in a safe environment, build self-confidence and form friendships. The key to having a positive gymnastics experience lies in finding the right gym. But finding the gym that is right for both you and your child isn’t necessarily easy.
To ease the process, here are three areas to consider when looking for that perfect fit:
1. Gymnastics Center
The gymnastics center should accommodate both you and your child. It should be appropriately sized, have the right equipment, and be well maintained. Most gyms also have specific, designated areas for management and a space where parents can comfortably view their children.
When looking for a facility that is a right for you, consider these details:
What is your goal for your child in gymnastics?
Are you looking for your young gymnast to learn some skills, have fun and participate in the sport for pure recreation? If yes, a smaller gym that offers fun options like trampolines and pits might be right for you.
If you already have experience with gymnastics and your child is looking to become part of a competitive team, you will want to choose a facility that accommodates those needs. Make sure that it offers all of the necessary equipment, including foam pits, tumbling trak, spring floors, and spotting systems.
The distance you are willing to travel to a gym is an important factor to consider when choosing a facility. There is a good chance that your child will spend more than one day a week practicing, so make sure the gym commute works for you and your family.
Hot Tip: Look for Comfort
You will be spending almost as much time in the gym as your child. Make sure it is a comfortable place that is free from strange smells, cramped space, or any other component that might bother you as you watch practice.
Depending on where you live, it is important to know if your gym is heated (during the winter) or air conditioned (during the summer). Many gyms do not use air conditioning because of cost, but if you live in a place that regularly hits over 100 degrees in the summer, a cooling system is essential to ensure the safety of the gymnasts.
2. Gym Safety
Safety is a primary concern. Before you choose a gym, make sure it meets all the safety requirements that the governing body of gymnastics in your country requires. For example, in the United States, a gymnastics facility is required to have their apparatuses regularly inspected and secure. Mats must be properly placed around the equipment without obstruction. Equipment is not to be used except for its designated function.
Coaches must be certified instructors and need to regularly attend education seminars. Coaches should be concerned for the safety of their gymnasts, and provide proper spotting and learning techniques.
It is also important for you to pay attention to the gym environment and the coaches.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you watch practice:
- Is technique and safety emphasized at this gym?
- Are the instructors mature adults or are they teenagers with after school jobs?
- What is the ratio of students to teacher?
- Are the coaches strict? Is it a level of discipline you agree with?
- Are the gymnasts in the class happy, excited, scared, or sad?
Above all, follow your intuition. Even if the coaches are certified and the equipment and facility looks up to par, it may not be the right gym for you. Make sure you feel 100 percent comfortable with the coaches and the situation before choosing the gym.
3. Gym Incentives
All gyms should allow visitors to tour their facility. At these visits, you can get a chance to have your child try the gym to determine if he/she likes it. Most gyms will offer you a free trial class, but some may have you pay a fee.
Determine if the gym and the classes offered fit your budget. Find out how many lessons your child will get a week, how long each lesson is, and how the pay period is managed (monthly or quarterly). An average cost for a one hour session one time a week generally ranges between $50-90 a month.
In addition, several gyms offer incentives that may appeal to you: Many facilities offer sibling discounts; some will offer dance classes in addition to gymnastics; a few even have birthday party packages or parent’s night out. These extras can make the difference between one facility and another.
It is important to ask questions before you sign up. Take note of how they respond to your inquiries and how receptive they seem in addressing your concerns. The managers of the facility, the office staff and the coaches should listen to your questions and provide clear answers.
A Good Fit
Gymnastics will teach children coordination, balance and agility. Most kids love their gymnastics experience and some decide to make it a regular part of their life. Finding that right gym, one that suits both you and your child, will go a long way towards making your gymnastics experience a success.