Gymnastics is hugely popular in the U.S., with over 5 million young athletes involved in the sport across 4,000 plus gyms. The U.S. ranks number one in the world for gymnastics, according to the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG).
To excel in gymnastics requires dedication and practice. Top gymnasts typically train for several hours a day, multiple days a week. But at the intro level, a one or two-hour class once a week is enough for kids to get a feel for the sport and see if they enjoy it. Whether your goal for your child is to compete at a high level or have fun, gymnastics can build strength, flexibility, balance, and confidence in kids of all ages.
With the popularity of gymnastics being so high, you can rest easy knowing that there is space for your little one, but choosing the right gym for them is an important decision you’ll need to make! Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to consider when making that choice, questions to ask and the importance of touring a facility when hunting for the right gymnastics gym for your child.
Top Considerations During Your Gymnastics Gym Research
As you begin exploring gym options in your area, keep these considerations at the top of your mind:
The Coaching Staff
The coaches are the heart of any gym. Look for a gym with experienced safety-certified coaches with a coaching style that aligns with your values. Meet with the coaches to get a feel for how they motivate and interact with the gymnasts.
The gym should have equipment suited to your child’s skill level and size. For beginners, look for basic balance beams, bars, vaults, and foam pits for safe landings. As skills progress, the equipment should advance accordingly. While well-equipped gyms are a big plus, the equipment must be well-maintained for safety.
A clean, organized gym shows the staff’s dedication to the gymnasts’ well-being. Ensure the equipment, floors, and bathrooms are properly cleaned and sanitized. Proper ventilation and temperature control also provide a comfortable environment for the gymnasts.
Age-Appropriate Skill Levels
Classes and programs should match your child’s current skill level and age. Young children should focus on developing coordination, balance, and flexibility in a fun, non-competitive environment. As they get older and advance in the sport, skill levels and difficulty will increase appropriately. The gym should have clear paths for progressing from beginner to advanced levels.
Reputation and Reviews
Check online reviews from current or former gymnast families. Look for gyms with a positive reputation for coaching quality, skill development, and child safety. The right gym for your child is one with a proven track record of success and happy families.
Member of USA Gymnastics or AAU
Make sure the gymnastics gym is a USA Gymnastics Member Club or AAU Member Club. These gyms follow strict rules around safety, coaching standards, and child protection. USA Gymnastics or AAU membership also provides insurance in case of injuries. You can check if a gym is a member on the USA Gymnastics or AAU website.
Questions to Ask When Picking a Gymnastics Gym
Now that you know what to look for in a gym let’s cover five questions to ask to get a better feel for their practices and facility before signing your child up. Even if a gym looks great online, these questions will help you decide if the particular gymnastic gym you’re eyeing is a good fit!
“What programs do you offer for my child’s age group?”
Look for a gym with specific classes for preschoolers, beginners, and intermediate kids. The coaches and equipment should be suited to each level.
“How do registrations and payments work at your gym?”
Familiarizing yourself with how you will interact with a gym on the day-to-day in advance can be extremely helpful when deciding. Do they use class management software for payments and registrations to keep operating costs low, or will you need to come in and use old-fashioned pen and paper?
“What certifications and safety measures do you have in place?”
Check that the gym and coaches follow proper safety standards. Secure equipment, proper landing mats, and qualified spotters are all must-haves.
“What is the coach-to-student ratio?”
Look for smaller class sizes, around 6 to 10 kids per coach. Going over these numbers won’t be the end of the world but a smaller class size can help ensure each child gets the attention and guidance they need to succeed.
“Can I watch classes?”
Make sure the gym has viewing areas so you can see your child’s progress and feel comfortable with the teaching style. Some gyms even use programs like SpotTV in place so you can watch your child remotely.
“Do you offer trial classes or open gym times?”
Take advantage of free intro classes or open gym sessions so your child can get a feel for the equipment, coaching, and overall environment before fully committing to classes.
From a business perspective, a gymnastics gym wants to keep its parents and students happy to retain business for as long as possible. If they answer all five questions in the affirmative to your needs, they’ve likely done their research and will provide a great gymnastics experience for both you and your children.
Why is it important to visit gyms in advance?
So, you’ve found a few gyms that seem to check all the right boxes, but your next step shouldn’t be an immediate sign-up for your child. You still need to visit the gym in person if possible!
Visiting potential gyms in person is crucial to finding the right fit for your child. Every gym has its own vibe, and you want one that matches your child’s needs. Visiting in person allows you the chance to get a feel for their facility. For example, an intense, hyper-competitive gym may not be ideal for a recreational or beginner gymnast. If, on a visit, you decide a gym is too focused on competition, try looking for a more welcoming, encouraging environment elsewhere.
You can also evaluate the equipment and facilities. Look around and ensure the gym has suitable and properly sized equipment for your child’s age and skill level. Keep your eyes open for facilities that are clean, well-maintained, and secure.
An in-person visit also allows you the chance to meet the coaches. Coaches are the heart of any gym program, so see how they interact with students. Do they provide positive guidance and constructive feedback? Trust your instincts on whether they seem genuinely invested in the kids.
While websites and reviews provide helpful information, there’s no substitute for seeing the gym firsthand. Take your child for a trial class or observation. If everything feels like the right fit, you’ve found your gym! With the perfect gym and supportive coaches, your child will thrive doing what they love.
Time to Get Your Little One Started
Choosing a gymnastics gym for your little one is an important decision. But if you do your research, ask the right questions, and go with your gut, you’ll find a place where your child will thrive.
Everything from experienced coaches and proper safety precautions to an environment where kids have fun while learning skills can have a huge effect on your child’s experience. The right gymnastics gym choice will not only build your child’s confidence but also see them making new friends and developing a lifelong love of physical fitness. Now, go find that perfect gym – your future Olympic gymnast will thank you for it!