Ballpark Estimate: $15 to $50 per lesson
Want to give your child something to flip over? If so, it may be time to look into gymnastics lessons. For those with a real aptitude for this sport, this can be a wonderful training ground to develop skills and strengths that will also be valuable in other athletic activities. Both males and females can take gymnastics lessons, although the equipment and skill sets are quite gender specific.
While girls participate in floor exercises, uneven bars, the balance beam and vault, boys take a different tack, focusing on floor, vault, the high bar, parallel bars and rings. For both sexes, strength, balance and flexibility are essential for success. Participating in gymnastics requires a real commitment, but in return, you can expect your youngster to develop an increased level of fitness, poise, form and discipline.
Finding a Place
There are a variety of options when it comes to finding a place for gymnastics lessons. You can check with your local recreation department andYMCA programs to see if they offer any gymnastics classes during the year or summer gymnastics camps or clinics. You can also do a search online or look in your local newspaper for gyms in your area that offer gymnastics classes for youngsters. In addition, some dance studios also offer gymnastics or tumbling classes for students, so you can make some phone calls or ask other parents for suggestions of places to try.
If your child has a real aptitude and the dedication required, you can also look into competitive teams for males and female gymnastics students. Most serious gyms have teams of different levels that compete on compulsory routines (these are set routines designated for each ability level), as well as optionals (routines that the gymnastics develop themselves with the help of a coach or mentor.)
When selecting where to send your child for gymnastics lessons, it’s of the utmost importance to find a place where you feel confident in the skill of the instructors. Keep in mind that your child will be performing stunts and routines where proper direction and spotting from a trained professional can be quite important for safety. Therefore, always check out the gym’s reputation, talk to other parents and find out what type of training the gymnastics instructor’s go through before teaching a class. Clubs that have USA Gymnastics membership are usually a safe bet, since they have to meet specified criteria in order to get this designation. You can also look for gyms that are members of the United States Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs, Inc..
Beyond the credentials, though, it’s a good idea to watch a gymnastics lesson and see how well the participants are guided through the activities by the teachers or coaches. If you have any hesitations, always follow your instincts since it’s very easy for children to get injured during a gymnastics lesson if they aren’t taught the proper technique or aren’t supervised on the equipment.
You may wonder at what age your child should start gymnastics lessons. It’s really up to your little one’s stamina and strength. Many gyms offer play classes for toddlers. The youngest students (usually 2 and 3 year olds) often participate with their parents, although some are mature enough to attend gymnastics classes on their own. In either case, play classes can be a good introduction into the world of gymnastics. Toddlers and pre-school students mainly work on motor skills, repetition, flexibility and coordination. The equipment for this stage is usually modified for safe mastering of the most basic skills.
The goal early on is usually to get children comfortable with the gym rules and with the terminology they will need to be successful when they graduate to more structured gymnastics classes, which usually began at Kindergarten age.
Finding the Right Class
For school-age children, your child’s grade level is one measurement that can determine placement within the gymnastics class offerings available. But how well he or she performs each core skill will also determine her placement. Most children require two or three years at each level to master the skills presented, but there are some children who have a special talent for gymnastics and may progress much more quickly.
Maturity is also important in determining where a child fits within the gymnastics class offerings. This is because someone who has difficulty paying attention or following directions could be at risk for injury, and therefore this is an important consideration when determining where a child best fits within the broader class setting.
Different Skill Levels
Beginner gymnastics classes usually start with once a week, and as your child’s skill level and interest grows, the number of classes may also increase accordingly. Beginner gymnastics classes can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, while more intensive gymnastics lessons (such as for team members) can last for as long as 3 hours. In addition to regular gymnastics class time, your child may be required to come in for extra practices. In fact, children who compete at team level may required for practices several times a week or even every day. Meets will also require a time commitment and some travel may be involved, so it’s important to know this up front. Most team members compete in up to 8 to 10 meets a year or even more.
A Competitive Edge
Competitive gymnastics teams are also grouped by levels. These are governed by the United States of America Gymnastics (USGA), which also sets the criteria for scoring the participants’ performances. USGA also runs a Junior Olympic Program and oversees gymnastics all the way through to the Olympics.
Here is a brief overview of how gymnastics student’s progress:
- Levels 1 through 3 are pre-competition. At this stage, the gymnastics students are learning to master basic skills and getting a good introduction to the sport that they can build on as their ability improves.
- Gymnasts who meet the requirements for beginning competition will be invited to move up to levels 4 through 6, which involve competing on compulsory routines for each event (floor, bars, beam, etc.).
- More advanced gymnasts progress to levels 7 through10. At this stage, they are required to compete on their own individual optional routines.
- Elite gymnasts are the highest level and these are the ones who are good enough to compete internationally.
Gymnastics Lessons Costs
When you’re exploring gymnastics lesson costs there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, the type of setting can make a big difference, as can the length and size of the gymnastics class and whether it’s strictly recreational or has a competitive bent. In general, gymnastics classes held at YMCAs and through local recreation departments will be on the less expensive end, while private gyms usually charge higher prices for gymnastics lessons. If your child attends gymnastics classes multiple times per week, you can also expect to get a savings on the cost per lesson.
The cost of gymnastics lessons can vary from about $10 a class for a 30 to 60 minute recreational class on up to about $50 for a more intense class that can last up to 2 hours long or more. Many gymnastics classes fall somewhere between these two extremes, averaging about $15 to $25 each.
To give you an idea of how this might play out, consider that if you take three gymnastics classes a week at $20 each, this comes out to $60 a week or $240 a month.
Participating on a competitive gymnastics team can require up to about four hours a week of practice and gymnastics lessons or even more.
In addition to the cost of gymnastics lessons, many gyms also charge an annual registration fee. This can cost between $15 and $50 and is usually due once a year. Serious competitive-level gymnastics may also be required to join the US Gymnastics Association. For the annual membership fee of about $50, you get admission to participate in special events and competitions.
If your gymnast is competitive level, this can add to your expenses. For instance, you will need to be prepared to pay for meet entry fees (which can cost between$40 and $150 a meet or even more) as well as your child’s travel and meals. You can also expect to cover the gymnastics coaches and their expenses (which can add another $20 to $50 to your bill). There may also be a team entry fee, which can be about $30 to $50 or more. All of these expenses can add up throughout the year. (Some gymnastics may spend $1,000 annually or more on competitions.)
What your child wears for gymnastics lessons can also add to the overall costs. Basic leotards can start at about $15 at stores like Walmart, K-Mart and Target, while higher-quality leotards can cost as much as $50 to $75. Competitive gymnastics will often also be required to buy team warm-up suits. These can add$150 to $200 or more to your bill.