big gym or small gym?

Discussion in 'Parent Forum' started by laurameer, Jun 21, 2007.

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  1. laurameer

    laurameer Guest

    I'm curious what your opinions are on this. My dd goes to a small gym where they are just starting up their teams again after a ownership change. It's a very positive atmosphere and she loves it. With her only being just 6, I like that aspect, but the coaches are maybe not too experienced and the program not really up and running quite yet. DD is about to go to level 4.

    The other gym in town is an elite training gym, very established, experienced coaches, a lot bigger. However, I have heard that the atmosphere is fairly intense and competitive.

    My DD has shown alot of promise, moving up quickly and totally loves the sport. She would go to practice every day if I'd let her. :) What are your opinons on the big vs small gym for a young gymnast starting to compete? I think at some point we'll have to move gyms, but the question is now - when she's starting out, or later - when we outgrow this place?

    Thanks for the input!

  2. littlegymchampsmom

    littlegymchampsmom New Member

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    laurameer, when we chose between gyms we did not really consider future growth, but rather who we thought would provide the strongest foundation or basics. :)
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2007
  3. Megley

    Megley Guest

    I guess I would want to know how "competitive and intense" the atmosphere is over at the other gym and also whether you think your daughter would thrive in that sort of environment. There is a very well known gym in our area that trains elite gymnasts, but it has a reputation as not being a very nice place for the kids to train. The coaches yell a lot and they push kids into homeschooling and lots of gym hours at an early age. I know I don't want that for my daughter and she would not do well in that kind of an environment. I'm not saying that is the case at the new gym you mention, but the words "competitive and intense" set off alarm bells for me, particularly compared with your description of a positive atmosphere at your current gym. I think if I were in your shoes I would wait and at least see how Level 4 goes at your current gym. But then again, that is just my 2 cents!
  4. Tumblequeensmom

    Tumblequeensmom New Member Proud Parent

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    Hi Megley... So... the "other" gym pushes the kids into homeschooling at such a young age? Amazing. I just can't believe parents go along with that... but then again, when they've got olympic dreams for their children, I guess it's understandable.

    At our gym, the Level 6's are encouranged to skip school on Fridays before a meet so that they can get in extra practice. I truly don't believe in that at all... their education is what will matter in the long run. And in fact, we're switching gyms beginning Monday. This new gym actually has fun things for the girls to do as WELL as training.. I think my DD will be happier over there and she is really excited to join her new team as well!

  5. gym law mom

    gym law mom New Member Proud Parent

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    I would weigh in with the other posters about staying where you are for at least her 1st year as a L4. If you keep in mind that this is a program in transition and they may not take 1st place at every meet, then keep her there. She sounds like she is having fun and is happy. My guess based on her age is that she'll start 1st grade this year, so that will be a big change in her life(and yours!) plus doing L4 competitive gymnastics. That is alot for any 6 yo to handle. She'll go from the summer daytime practices to school schedule with practice after school and meets on weekends-----those meets can really suck up your weekend in a hurry!

    Watch the girls from this other gym at meets. Chat a little with the parents. Usually one of the most commonly asked questions while sitting in the bleachers is "how many hours does your team practice?" See how she enjoys her season. Is she having fun? Is she improving? Some girls love gymnastics, but don't like the competitive side. It may be this gym is your answer when she gets a little older and understands more about the committment they want from her. Then again, your gym may get girls who have burned out at that gym and your program may blossom.
  6. hammy

    hammy Coach/Gymnast

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    I agree with Gym Law Mom. I grew up and did all of my training in a small family run gym. The atmosphere in my gym was more about having fun and accomplishing goals than "winning" every meet. I loved challeges and wouldn't have minded a competitive and intense program, but a lot of my teammates were not that way. I've also had teammates that have come from the "competitive and intense" gym where they were yelled at and what not and they enjoyed the having fun gym a little more.

    Personally, I think it all depends on the child, some children can handle and want to participate in the competitive and intense program while some just want to have fun doing gymnastics. I agree with GLM--check out the other team at meets, and see how your daughter does this year. It's possible to be competitive and intense in a small gym setting, I personally think that's the best option.
  7. laurameer

    laurameer Guest

    Thanks so much for all the advice. There are so many things to consider as you all have brought up. I will most likely keep her here for a year, like some of you mentioned. It's a little wierd cuz the comp. season starts in Sept, and they're talking about moving her up then, which wouldn't give her any time to work on the routines. So I'm guessing she won't be able to compete this year. She will not be happy watching her teammates compete and not being able to herself. I think they're trying to look out for her because of her age, she's a year younger than the others in level 4. But she already did full-day school last year and it's only 2 hrs a week more in the gym, so she should be fine. I generally try to take the cross the bridge when we get there approach. As long as she's progressing and happy, that's the most important thing.

    I'm also very interested to just watch some meets, as we've never even been to one. I'm sure I'll learn alot by watching the other teams etc...
  8. Carmansunshine

    Carmansunshine New Member

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    I want to say a young gym my not be a bad thing, they may try a little harder with the girls as well as having fun with them. The girls will less likely burn out because the coaches will be so excited to have a team of their own to train. My 2 dd went to one of those "competitive and intense gyms" and if your dd was not one of the top girls they get alot less attention and get yelled at alot if they can't keep up. And my oldest a training level 4 was yelled at and embarresed so much in the gym she quit the sport for 6 months and only went back because I took my youngest to a smaller new gym. She sat and watched her sister for 3 months and she saw how much the coaches cared about the students. and decided to give it another try. (Turns out she coldn't keep up because no one ever corrected the basics and she was being taught tricks without a good foundation. The gym I went to has the NJ state champ for level 4 but she and 2 other girls are the only 3 level 4's that were scoring well. The gym has many team trophys, but only those three girls ever placed in the all around. The gym I went to also seemed alot more concerned with money and image than my girls. I'm not saying that all intense and competitve programs are like that, but just be careful not to go for the flash over the substance. Some gyms also hold gymnasts at a level for 2 to 3 yrs so they can win at competitions. So keep that in mind when your dd sarts competing, your team may not win as many competitions because the are first year 4's going against second or third year 4's not because your coaches are not coaching correctly.
  9. Blackie6

    Blackie6 New Member Proud Parent

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    Carmensunshine! I'm in NJ too. My DD just started level 4 this year, but our gym is going thru a re-building phase for L4 it seems. They had no L4's even competing this year & lost a huge chunk to another gym before we came on the team. We have a new coach now and everything seems to be on track, but it is not intense...no yelling and screaming that I know of & my DD loves it. I know that there are some really top gyms here in NJ, but this is a good fit for us so far, we have no plans on training for the Olympics,LOL
  10. littlegymchampsmom

    littlegymchampsmom New Member

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    our gym is not a yelling or screaming gym either - thank goodness. Our girls have a lot of fun, but the coach's motto is "work hard, or go home" ... they also
    really stress the basics. None of the girls would ever make it to the national or intl elite level IMO because the coaches just don't have the heart - or rather lack of:D + they seem to take things pretty safe into the higher levels.

    I would only be careful of staying in the new gym if you are dealing with a lot of new inexperience... gymnastics SHOULD ABSOLUTELY be fun and interesting foremost, but your dd sounds like she is on a great track already... it would be sad if she started bad habits because of a lack of experience on the coaches part. Hopefully you had a chance to meet your new coach(s) and you are clear on their credentials... I would just pay close attention for a bit and see how it goes, club gym is not the same as rec gym and you can only wait around for so long before bad habits have a chance to creep in... if your dd loves her gym, and you love the gym and you are confident in the coaches then there would be no reason to move to a high pressure gym, which, at this young gymnasts age could just ruin the whole experience...
  11. Megley

    Megley Guest

    Tumblequeensmom, yes they try to get them into homeschooling as early as age 6 in their Level 4 year. I heard this from a friend whose daughter switched to our gym after getting the high pressure tactics. :( I know they employ a lot of coaches from other countries where that type of training is common.

    Meg
  12. CoachL

    CoachL New Member

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    I know plenty of elites and elite coaches that absolutely HATE the idea of taking a gymnast out of school at an early age and doing 2 a days w/ home schooling. My one elite didn't finally make the decision to do that until her freshman year and there was no pressure from us to make her do it. And we eventually made her go back to school because we could see the signs of her becoming burnt out. If you're bringing a girl in that much when she's 6/7/8 sure she'll progress fast but you won't keep her in the program for long because she'll just be burnt out and go do diving or cheer.

    Look at some of the best girls in the country...Shawn Johnson, she's attends school everyday. Nastia....school. Alicia Sacramone.....school. Children need a life outside the gym. If you train properly you can get alot done in 25-28 hours a week and still keep up the elite level.
  13. littlegymchampsmom

    littlegymchampsmom New Member

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    WOW!! Level 4??? I thought most gymnasts don't home school for training purposes until they were much higher levels????

    Our coaches are from Russia, and none of their kids homeschool, except one family, but their kids were always home schooled, did not change because of gymnastics.

    Have you guys seen the Parkettes CNN special on you tube? Here is the link to Part 1. A very high pressure gym, it was heart breaking to me, (although possibly dramatized for TV).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvMpy6kEOZM
  14. Tumblequeensmom

    Tumblequeensmom New Member Proud Parent

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    I also sat and watched the whole Parkettes documentary. I DO think it's really sad and as much as my DD wants to "go to the Olympics" (I do try to get some common sense into her head over this, and know that's NOT going to happen) I don't think I could EVER endorse that type of training. I did find it enlightening that there were a set or two of parents that you could tell, it was THEIR dream they were pursuing and NOT necessarily their daughter's... (or maybe the daughter "adopted" the dream from their parents?!?) At any rate. . .

    I just can't believe that these gyms are pushing the gymnastics so hard at such young ages. AND forcing them to choose between school OR gym! That's just insane.
  15. Blackie6

    Blackie6 New Member Proud Parent

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    WOW! I just watched that documentary...those parents are just plain cruel!
  16. Carmansunshine

    Carmansunshine New Member

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    Have you guys seen the Parkettes CNN special on you tube? Here is the link to Part 1. A very high pressure gym, it was heart breaking to me, (although possibly dramatized for TV).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvMpy6kEOZM[/quote]


    Wow I just watched it. The parents are mixed up, but that coach is not right at all, all I can say is ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!:eek: I don't know much about being a coach for elite gymnasts, but I do know you can't get the best results from that kind of intimidation and fear. If those girls are that good with a coach like that I bet they could be amazing with a coach that encourages and doesn't insult them. It's one thing to tell someone what they need to do to be better, it is another intirely to yell and degrade them when they are doing something and not getting it. The team coach at the gym where I used to take my dd must be a clone of this woman, or at least took coaching lessons from her.:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek: I am less inclined to judge the parents as harshly because if the coach is that indimidating to the gymnasts I can only imagin what she is like to the parents. Most parents don't seem like they have a clue what goes on in that gym, probably because they aren't allowed in ( a red flag for me), and aren't given the final say about how thier child is to deal with injuries, the coach is.(another red flag to me).

    Yes they win, but so do other gyms. Do all elite gyms resort to these tactics????
  17. Megley

    Megley Guest

    Wow, I just watched the whole thing. Thanks for posting that LGCM. That documentary really puts things in perspective. Man, I wanted to strangle that female coach by the end of the documentary!! That poor kid Annie just seemed like she did not really want to be there.

    This really points up the injury thing too. I winced every time I watched one of those girls fall on her knees or head or face. No wonder they are having heel or back problems. It definitely gives one pause about continuing in the sport.

    Interestingly, that last meet was in VB - where we live - and some of those girls in the purple and black are from the gym I just mentioned.
  18. littlegymchampsmom

    littlegymchampsmom New Member

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    well the Parkettes docu drama as I said broke my heart too, it was probably more of a made for TV story though... I do think the elite level can not be easy or it would be for everyone, and I am sure we saw a very tinny part of it. but, the little one Ashley Barry, the little 7 yr old w/the broken ankle could not be taken out of context - I can't imagine why parents would LET that little girl compete in TOPS knowing she had a broken ankleno matter how long/hard she had worked for it, that was child abuse. She was no where near elite and they were trying to fit her into that category somehow. She did eventually make TOPS, I think when she was 10 yrs old.

    Kayla stark said her comments and others comments were taken out of context.. She is no longer @ parkettes because she moved.

    Nicole Harris qualified for the 2004 Olympic Trials, but then got injured. She now competes for ASU.

    Annie Fogerty quit gym I think, and is diving in college.

    Christina "sharky" coccia got injured and demoted back to lvl 10, but she got a college scholarship I believe. There are great montages on her, Kristal Uzelak , Annie Fogerty & nicole Harris.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2007
  19. Mac

    Mac New Member

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    Big or small isn't the most important question. Small gyms can be run by screaming coaches as likely as big gyms. It's the philosophy of the gym, rather than size, that will determine fit.

    Here are things I'd look at if selecting a gym:

    High on the list should be, what fits the personality of your child? There are huggy gyms, with coaches who influence by handing out hugs and platitudes. There are professional gyms, with business-like coaches who focus on technique. There are screamer gyms, run by tyrants who intimidate the athletes into shape. There are hands-on gyms that do a lot of spotting, and others that provide the means for the child to learn without a lot of hands-on spotting. And there's everything in between. Any can be effective if it's a good match for your child.

    Look at the track record. Have they historically developed the type of gymnast and young woman you hope your daughter will become? What they've done in the past is as good an indicator as you'll have on how they might do in the future.

    Reputation. How are they thought of throughout the state? How long have they been around? Do kids stay there for many years or leave after a few? How many stay through HS graduation?

    Experience counts for a lot. I don't want inexperienced coaches learning via my child. It's not fair to her. If they don't teach things properly, your child will pay a heavy price though limited accomplishment, and through a painful process of re-learning proper technique if she ever moves to another gym.

    Gymnastics is a sport that builds off of strong fundamentals. If good technique is not learned at the early levels, the child will find it difficult or impossible to learn higher level skills properly. It's always sad to see a promising child whose accomplishments were limited by ineffective coaching.

    We all want to believe that our coaches are as capable as any. But the simple truth is that some are better than others. And the gap can be wide, and can be seen through the performances of the children. The kids don't learn what they learn by accident. Where have the coaches studied? Do they continue their education through yearly seminars and conferences? Are they able to teach and spot the high-level skills? Do they know the progressions that lead from the early skills to the advanced ones?

    Find role models for your child within the sport--local girls who developed into fine young women and gymnasts. Whoever trained them is worth a look.
  20. laurameer

    laurameer Guest

    Mac - your comments are very helpful. I defininately want DD to be where she's being taught her fundamental skills correctly, and then can progress to her full potential. I do know the owners of our gym have been there for years, but DD's coach is brand new. Time will tell, but in the meantime I may go watch some practices at the other gym in town to see for myself. Firsthand information is always best.

    Competitive gymnastics is just that, competitive. There's nothing wrong with that or with desiring to do well both individually and as a team as long as both the kids and coaches treat eachother respectfully. It's a balancing act, like many things.
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