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Gym problems - Suggestions please

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amom

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Jul 9, 2008
17
I am interested in getting your input on a situation at our gym. Here are the facts: There are about 40 gymnast in the team program. There are three coaches. Really no professional coaches and 2 are college girls which will be leaving when they are done with school. The price we pay per year is more than anyone else that we compete against and not much less than some of the larger programs in much larger markets. These gyms in larger markets do have professional coaches. Girls workout 13 hours per week at level 5 and do not perform well at State meets. There are very few girls in levels 7-9 and no 10's. Owners are off site in another town. Booster Club members approached the owners about hiring a professional coach and were basically told that it was not going to happen. This is the only gym in town and there are no other options. We also pay Much more in coaches fees than any of the other gyms that we compete against. Team pays almost $15,000 in coaches fees and on average the meets are 150 miles or less in distance. Most do not require an overnight stay (maybe only 4 or so overnight stays total). Also, the booster club has to pay for half of the cost of all equipment and any repairs needed to existing equipment. We also have to pay a rental fee to the gym for use of it for meets because they said they loose money those days because they can't have any other activities during that time. Most of the families are very unhappy with the situation and many are thinking about quitting totally. We have many talented gymnast and the girls love the sport.

Any suggestions? We are really in a bind.:confused:
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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I'm not really sure what you can do/what you are looking for advice on. But I have heard of some parent cooperative type gyms although it is really unusual. After a little googling I found the link to one I remember seeing before somewhere:

Kokokahi Gymnastics Team
Welcome to KGT, a non-profit, parent-owned, parent-operated gym. KGT is Hawaii's oldest private gymnastics school, founded in 1969. Originally, classes were a part of the Kokokahi YWCA. Due to increased enrollment and a commitment to the sport of gymnastics, the KGT Association was formed by parents in 1971. KGT became incorporated in 1978 as a non-profit organization. In 1983, KGT moved to its present facility to expand its programs for children and adults.

So I guess things like that have been done before. I don't understand exactly how they bought out/took over/generally got where they did. Maybe you could email them and they could give you more details (obviously it was a YWCA and several decades ago and state law would vary somewhat on business stuff). It is possible I suppose to buy out and then set up some sort of cooperative or nonprofit in your community. Would be a lot of work.
 
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Aussie_coach

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Basically it sounds like the owners have very little to do with the gym and are in it for the money not for the love of the sport. I would reccomend you get out and find a gym that cares about the gymnastics.

I don't understand why they dont have a professional coach, in Australia it is illegal to coach any level of gymnastics unless you are a qualified and registered gymnastics coach. Are there no laws in your country requiring coaches to be qualified?
 

amom

New Member
Jul 9, 2008
17
You have it perfectly right! They do not care about the gymnastics and only about the money. It is all about the money. Most of the parents have never even met the owners. Our prices are very high for what we get.

The coaches are safety certified but not what I would call professional coaches. As far as other gyms...there is where the problem is - there are no other gyms in town. They can charge what they want and do what they want and we can do nothing about it but quit all together. They also will not budge on anything and are very defensive and abrasive when you try to discuss issues with them (the owners).
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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I don't understand why they dont have a professional coach, in Australia it is illegal to coach any level of gymnastics unless you are a qualified and registered gymnastics coach. Are there no laws in your country requiring coaches to be qualified?

Not exactly. I mean there aren't any "laws" about gymnastics at all, all we have is the rules of whatever organization you're participating in. To be on the floor at a USAG meet, you need to be a USAG professional member, so you have to have a background check and be USAG safety certified. There's no hands on test or anything.
 

gym law mom

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Dec 23, 2006
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Amom. Sounds like you're in a real bad situation. This gym currently is "the only game in town" and I'm sure the owners are aware of it. They have you over a barrel. Doesn't sound like they care if your dd leaves---they'll still make money. Reason they don't hire a full time coach(I think that's what you're getting at) or someone with more experience is that person would want more pay than a college student.

What if any options do you have regarding other gyms? Anything reasonably close? Would parents be willing to carpool to get girls to another gym to train? The only thing that would get the owners attention would be most of their team kids leaving for another gym. They could still run a rec program, but wouldn't be as attractive without a team program to go along with it
 

amom

New Member
Jul 9, 2008
17
Yes, you are right. I think the coaching is a MAJOR issue to all of the parents. The girls are only coached at their level and really aren't challenged. Most of the girls recently went to a camp together and after just one week they were miles ahead of where they started. All learned numerous new skills and we are talking big things...not just technique type of things. They were actually pushed. I have only seen them do one vault ever at home and are certainly not coached up a level. I would say that most all of the parents feel the same way.

As far as moving gyms goes, there are no options. The nearest other gym would be several hours away one way. The owners are very defensive and don't really even want to meet with the booster club. They said it "would not be productive." I think that they know they would be dealing with angry parents. Several parents have told them that they are thinking about quitting and they have no response. They just don't care.

They say they are hardly breaking even on the team. We as parents just don't see it. :confused: We pay more than anyone else and pay almost what some of the bigger gyms pay in bigger areas and the quality is not comparable. They also have many other ways that they make money as you will read. The team is run out of their gym and they set our workout schedule, fees, booster club fees and coaches fees. Booster club has no say in any of these cost. Plus, we pay for half of the equipment cost plus any repairs needed to the equipment. Then, they turn around and force the booster club to pay rent on the facility that houses the equipment that we paid for so that we can have our meets there. :eek: And...this is THEIR team. It's not like we are paying a monthly lease in someone else's gym and then wanting to host meets there. They use the equipment for rec classes, birthday parties, Friday night parents night out, the daycare (yes, they have a daycare), after school care kids and such...but they do not pay the team or booster club any rent for the equipment that we paid half for. Have any of you heard of doing things this way? Maybe I am wrong and that is fine. If you see this differently, please correct me.
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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Does your booster club have 501(c)3 status?
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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Okay. While I'm not really sure how your booster club or gym situation is set up legally, from what is described, I would strongly suggest that the people in charge take a look at nonprofit law because the activity you are describing could possibly run afoul of regs.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopica93.pdf


All organizations described in IRC 501(c)(3) must also establish that they operate exclusively for charitable purposes. They must establish that their net earnings do not inure to the benefit of any private individual and that they are operated for public purposes rather than private interests. These bars to exemption are discussed further in Section 4 of this article.


I'm sure it is possible to set things up in a way where you are legally paying rent of a privately owned facility but it could be a bit tenuous and need some indication that the owners could not make the rent on the facility with the money from the meet fees, etc, and need the money to keep the program. They need to put all that back into the program with some benefit for the community. If not already, I think for their purposes the booster club needs to demand an itemized account of what money comes in and where it goes, absolutely. It cannot be used for their own privately held profit at the end of the day per my understanding. I'm sure more knowledgable people can chime in here re: 501(c)3 status bylaws.
 
K

KBT

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Would it be possible to talk directly to the coaches about challenging the girls beyond their level? Obviously you can't do much about them not being great coaches, but it seems like they're the only ones left to talk to before moving to something drastic.
 

amom

New Member
Jul 9, 2008
17
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I'm sure it is possible to set things up in a way where you are legally paying rent of a privately owned facility but it could be a bit tenuous and need some indication that the owners could not make the rent on the facility with the money from the meet fees, etc, and need the money to keep the program. They need to put all that back into the program with some benefit for the community. If not already, I think for their purposes the booster club needs to demand an itemized account of what money comes in and where it goes, absolutely. It cannot be used for their own privately held profit at the end of the day per my understanding. I'm sure more knowledgable people can chime in here re: 501(c)3 status bylaws. [/left]
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Yes, I see what you are saying. They have said that they make money at the facility in general. They said it is not as much as people would think though. We all think they are pocketing some of the coaches expenses at the very least. The owners do the books for the booster club and a staff member writes the needed checks out of the booster club checkbook. Parents are just given a profit and loss statement. They say we are charged rent because they can't have their normal functions like Friday night open night and b-day parties and so they don't make that money.
 

amom

New Member
Jul 9, 2008
17
Would it be possible to talk directly to the coaches about challenging the girls beyond their level? Obviously you can't do much about them not being great coaches, but it seems like they're the only ones left to talk to before moving to something drastic.

I know that a couple of families have paid one of the coaches for private lessons specifically for that purpose of teaching them new skills. In general, they are very defensive and act as though we do not know what we are talking about and that they know what they are doing and that is that. Communication is not good and parents get very little info on how their girls are doing unless they specifically ask. This is also a major issue with parents. We have no conferences and such. We believe that we should get at least some type of somewhat constant feedback. Not 10 minute discussions even, just little comments every now and then. After all, our daughters are with them more than anyone else...sometimes even more than they are with us!:(
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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They say we are charged rent because they can't have their normal functions like Friday night open night and b-day parties and so they don't make that money.

See, I'm not convinced they can get money from a 501(c)3 to make up for that. To defray the expenses of running the meet, sure (that would be helping the athletes). Charging from the booster club pot (unless they are having the parents write a check of an assessment fee that is not actually coming from the booster club money) to recoup lost profit for a privately owned profit making enterprise does not sound legal to me. Does the P&L go item by item or is just whole numbers? If it isn't itemized then I think your booster club should address this and point out the various legal problems ("speak their language").
 

Tumblequeensmom

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Feb 19, 2007
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Gymdog is right about the legalities (or lack thereof) of what's going on re: the booster club/owners. Just a thought... if there is a parent among you who happens to be an attorney, it might be wise for that peron to speak to the owners about what's going on.... kind of approach it like "before any legal issues arise here are the facts" kind of talk?!

-Lynn
 

bogwoppit

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Feb 26, 2007
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HI there,

I really feel for your situation, here is another way to change things up, but it would require a lot of work and a bit of money. It is clear that the owners will not change, they have a great deal with no work. The only way to get change is to create it yourselves.

First find a coach that you can trust and who is willing to put in 15 hours a week to coach gym. Then find a school with 15 hours a week to spare in their gymnasium facility.

Buy some basic used gym equipment, tumbling strip, single bar, set of bars, training vault (block type) and a high beam, a low beam and some mats (though many high schools have these already).

Or even find a college that has a team and try to negotiate with them for gym time. You may have to switch training times a lot, but training in a better environment can only be a good thing for all involved.


Our present gym began with one coach in a high school gym, putting up and down equipment 4 times a week. We didn't have a full floor until last year (after 8 years) we would rent a real gym once a year before meet season to work on direction.

With limited equipment a lot of stations need to be set up and it would require a very dynamic coach.

I know it sounds drastic, but if there is nothing else close by and you really want to provide a safe, nurturing gym environment for your DD it may be the only way.

Once word gets out that you are the new gym in town, you may the the only gym in town, perhaps then premises can be found to house more equipment.

DO let us know how this goes, we all feel for you.
 

amom

New Member
Jul 9, 2008
17
See, I'm not convinced they can get money from a 501(c)3 to make up for that. To defray the expenses of running the meet, sure (that would be helping the athletes). Charging from the booster club pot (unless they are having the parents write a check of an assessment fee that is not actually coming from the booster club money) to recoup lost profit for a privately owned profit making enterprise does not sound legal to me. Does the P&L go item by item or is just whole numbers? If it isn't itemized then I think your booster club should address this and point out the various legal problems ("speak their language").

I am not conviced either. We do not write a different check for the rental. (rental cost was just increased by the way.) It comes out of the booster club expenses. It is shown as an expense for the meet. It does go item buy item for the expenses. Another question is: how much do coaches or whoever usually get paid to be a meet director? That just went up too. Also, we get charged a fee for a representative for their facility. I think it payment for arranging for judges and other meet related stuff like that. Shouldn't they be paying that? The largest cost is for judges. How much do judges usually get paid for a one day meet?
 

amom

New Member
Jul 9, 2008
17
HI there,


First find a coach that you can trust and who is willing to put in 15 hours a week to coach gym.

Or even find a college that has a team and try to negotiate with them for gym time. You may have to switch training times a lot, but training in a better environment can only be a good thing for all involved.

Once word gets out that you are the new gym in town, you may the the only gym in town, perhaps then premises can be found to house more equipment.

DO let us know how this goes, we all feel for you.

Thank you so much! I am glad I am really not crazy...this really is not right!

I like the idea of just going out on our own. Finding a coach in this area may be a challenge though. As far as a college to workout at - the University only has a club team and they workout at our gym. In fact, this is the only gym in town that has gymnastics equipment. :( We talked about hiring a coach to come here and doing something similar with the facilities arrangement. I think that would be the only way to even find a coach. Is that even possible?

How did you handle the insurance and liability involved with having practices at another facility?
 

amom

New Member
Jul 9, 2008
17
Gymdog is right about the legalities (or lack thereof) of what's going on re: the booster club/owners. Just a thought... if there is a parent among you who happens to be an attorney, it might be wise for that peron to speak to the owners about what's going on.... kind of approach it like "before any legal issues arise here are the facts" kind of talk?!

-Lynn

I think we may just have one of those! ;);)
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
5,121
I am not conviced either. We do not write a different check for the rental. (rental cost was just increased by the way.) It comes out of the booster club expenses. It is shown as an expense for the meet. It does go item buy item for the expenses. Another question is: how much do coaches or whoever usually get paid to be a meet director? That just went up too. Also, we get charged a fee for a representative for their facility. I think it payment for arranging for judges and other meet related stuff like that. Shouldn't they be paying that? The largest cost is for judges. How much do judges usually get paid for a one day meet?

Most of the people I actually know who act in a "meet director" capacity (which obviously is a limitied sample size) are in a salaried position and this is basically considered part of their job. I would expect their salary to provide adequate compensation reflecting this time commitment, but because of the nature of that situation I can't really speak to what would be adequate compensation. I would personally feel usual hourly wage x hours worked would be adequate as generally there is a hospitality room with food provided, etc.

Personally I think that the meet fee charged to all entrants to the competition should be used to defray the meet expenses, although a lot of gyms do have team fees at the beginning of the year that also go towards those things. There is nothing that says they can't slap you with another fee (like a lot of dance schools here do a "recital fee" on top of costumes and tuition), but it sounds like basically what they are doing is making a "pure profit" by assessing extra fees and using booster money for meet overheads, and then keeping all the fee money. On top of this, they're taking booster money to recoup lost profit for a meet that they most likely ARE making a profit on. Again, for some of this, there's nothing (except market forces) that really says they can't do it, but it's a good way to run a business into the ground, even if you get away with it for some time because of a lack of competition. There may not be other gyms around, but there are other activities and of course people aren't going to tolerate ever increasing fees.

One other option is if you live in a fairly large county or city, you could possibly petition the county parks and recreation system to add gymnastics to the list of activities offered. Same for a local Y. If there is a core of dedicated parents willing to volunteer to get funding, etc, then those are two potential resources.
 
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