This pathway is by far the most frequent entry point for people getting into the sport! Recreational gymnastics is the term used to describe a broad array of gymnastics offerings spanning all ages and focused on beginner to intermediate skill levels, generally with a non-competitive focus. There are usually no prerequisites for entering these classes, and participation is only limited by class size. Classes are split up by age and ability and can cover ages from preschool to adult and abilities from complete beginners to very experienced gymnasts.
Class length usually ranges from 30-90 minutes, and class frequency is 1-3 times per week. Class structure varies from gym to gym but usually involves a general warm-up followed by general skill development spread across many apparatus. Some programs may focus on a given apparatus for a day or two, but most programs at this level are more generalized in their skill development.
USAG has a gym locator. Just type in your zip code, and it will give a list of nearby gyms. From there, you’ll need to find out which gyms have MAG programs by clicking on the link to each gym’s website and investigating their class offerings. You can also search Google Maps (or your maps application of choice) in your area for “gymnastics” or Google “recreational gymnastics [insert your city/town/area here].” Some gyms offer boys-only and coed classes. Coed classes will expose an athlete to all artistic gymnastics equipment in gyms with boys’ equipment but may only offer girls’ apparatus at gyms with only girls’ gymnastics equipment.
If you’re not sure which gym in your area would be a good fit, feel free to sign up for classes at a few different gyms to see which ones you like best. If you’re having trouble finding a class that isn’t already full, reach out to the gym staff, and if there is enough interest, they may add a class. You can also look for tumbling classes or ninja classes as a starting point, which at many gyms will give you priority in registration if you want to move into artistic gymnastics.
If your gymnast is itching for more commitment or competitive opportunities, the next step would be to find a competitive program. Most gyms with recreational programs also have competitive programs, and if your gym does, then you can simply talk to your coach about moving over to the competitive program. You may want to take this opportunity to look again at what competitive opportunities exist in your area to see if another gym might be a better fit for you at this next level.