Choosing a cheer gym is about more than just location and cost of the facility, although both are important, there are many underlying factors that are often overlooked. Taking the time to search for the right gym is an investment that will result in a more enjoyable experience for you and your child. Make a list of all the gyms you are considering and be sure to visit each one, attend practices and open gyms, ask a lot of questions and don’t be shy. Your child’s safety and well-being are top priority, there are several areas to consider for proper progression of their training; keep the following in mind:
SAFETY REQUIREMENTS & HEALTH REGULATIONS
Is the gym’s equipment up to date and well maintained?
All-star cheerleading is a physically demanding sport. While cheer shoes offer some support and cushioning, floor mats are the best defense against injury. Floor mats will more than likely be available at all gyms, check if a spring floor is also available. Spring floors help with tumbling skills and easier to learn on over regular mats.
Is the gym clean and tidy?
When taking time to visit, the first thing you should notice is the gym’s cleanliness. All cheer gym facilities should be cleaned daily; floors vacuumed/mopped, mats washed, areas cleaned/disinfected. The overall look of the gym should say a lot on how much the employees and coaches take pride in their work and accomplishments of their gym.
Is the gym and it’s coaches certified?
It is important to considering if the gym you are looking into is USASF certified. This means that each instructor has obtained Credentialing with the USASF as well as CPR training. The gym director must be certified through the AACCA Spirit Safety Certification Program, with full coverage First Aid training. It is required that background checks be done for all staff members. In addition, you will want to ask how often the instructors continue their education and training.
Does the gym adhere to safety guidelines?
Practice guidelines set by the AACCA & USASF require direct supervision by a cheer coach with practices held in a facility suitable for cheerleading activities, and must follow these rules and regulations. Further information on these rules can be found in the USASF Safety Rules & Routine Requirements.
What is the ratio of instructors to cheerleaders?
Personal attention for each cheerleader is important for the proper learning of skills and techniques as well as for safety. Optimally a gym should have a 6:1 cheerleader to coach ratio. This is not the case in all cheer gyms, however, it is insisted that the ratio be no more than 10:1 to keep up proper instruction and guidance.
What is the gym’s level of accidents?
Accidents are going to happen from time to time and proper instruction will help to keep them to a minimum. Attend an open gym so that you can check out if they experience an excessive amount of injuries throughout the seasons.
PARENT INVOLVEMENT & STAFF ACCESSIBILITY
Is parent involvement encouraged?
Parent involvement is essential to the All-star experience. Parents must be welcome and encouraged to attend classes. Be wary of any gym that discourages parent involvement, it is imperative that you know what is going on with your child’s training and see their progression.
Is the staff accessible to parents?
Many times instructors take care of administrative services along with coaching. Unfortunately, this is at the cost of both the parents and cheerleaders, as full attention cannot be given to both. It is best to look for a gym that has staff members designated to administrative and customer service matters to allow coaches to continue their training without disrupting their classes.
CLASSES & TRAINING SESSIONS
What classes are offered?
Most offer a variety of classes based on age, skill levels, and choice of recreation or competitive teams. It is important that the prospective gym offers the kind of instruction and extra classes you are looking for to help your child excel.
What are the qualifications for each class?
With such a variety of classes available, it is important to know the qualifications for each one. Are the classes filled based on availability of spaces? If so, your child might be in a class with a variety of age and skill levels resulting in inconsistent training and a higher risk of injury. Cheerleaders need to be placed in classes right for their age and skill levels so that they are with others of their same ability. This will not only enable proper coaching and learning progression but will also lessen injuries and be more enjoyable.
PRICING & SCHEDULING
What are the gym’s tuition and fees?
Cheerleading is a great sport but it can also be an expensive one. Many gyms advertise one great price only to find additional costs that add up quickly such as coaching fees, competition fees, traveling fees, cost for uniforms, shoes, and more. All-star cheerleading can cost from $1,500-$5,000 per year depending on the cheer gym you choose. You will want to find out if the price offered is all-inclusive or if other fees added to the original cost. If the price seems high, don’t be discouraged, find out if the cheerleading gym offers payment plans or fundraising options. Some gyms also offer second-hand uniforms and pom-poms.
What type of schedule do most cheer gyms have?
Most cheer gyms begin their tryout in the spring and have a season that last up to 10 months. Summer is a time for team building and this is when gyms take part in cheer camps. Competitions generally start in fall and end in the spring, but there are some gyms that will offer shortened schedules. Take your schedule into consideration as you choose a gym because every member on an all-star team is important to the overall success of the team.
The number one goal of any All-star gym you are considering is to offer a safe and fun experience for your child. If a gym does not give each cheerleader with a positive learning experience to develop their skills and training, then it is important to continue looking.