One of my favorite sports to watch every Summer Olympics is women's gymnastics and it's one of the most watched events every four years. Through the years, I've been in awe of Mary Lou Retton, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller and many others. Their graceful dance moves, powerful acrobatics and overall stunning performances have earned them the titles of America's Sweethearts every four years when the summer games roll around.
I would love to be able to do any single one of their graceful moves. But I never stepped in a gymnastics gym growing up. This past year, my daughter took up an interest in gymnastics and I was thrilled. When it came to finding the right gym for her, I started to do my research. I wanted her to learn a new sport, gain confidence and most importantly, have fun.
Here's what you need to look for when looking for a gymnastics program for your child:
Are the coaches certified professional members of USA Gymnastics?
Certified coaches will stay up to date on the latest information in the sport, as well as the code of ethics for gymnastics. In addition, you want the coaches to be approachable.
What's the student-to-coach ratio?
The best ratio is one coach for every 8 to 10 students to ensure that each child receives individualized instruction and assistance in techniques as needed.
Do you get a trial class or can you observe a class before signing up?
Take a look around the facility. Does the equipment look safe? How do the coaches interact with the students? Do the students look happy? Is there an observation room/area so you can watch your child during class?
Is there a dress code?
Wearing proper gymnastics attire helps prevent injuries by not allowing loose clothing to catch on the equipment.
Is it required for my child to participate in a gym show? If so, how much does it cost?
Most gyms have a show at least once a year. Find out ahead of time how much the outfits will cost in addition to any participation fees for the show.
Is the gym clean and the equipment well maintained?
Proper cleaning and maintenance of the equipment is important for the safety of all students.
What is the teaching philosophy?
Look for a gym that uses positive reinforcement and projects enthusiasm for the sport to help build your child's confidence.
Find gymnastics programs near you.