1. General Questions
2. What age can you start gymnastics?
3. Program Descriptions
4. Registration Questions
5. Questions about Classes
6. Questions about Progress
7. Participation Concerns
8. Illness and Injury
9. Gymnastics Coaches
1. General Questions
What is recreational gymnastics?
Recreational gymnasts will participate for the benefits of the activity rather than to distinguish themselves in competition. At the Airdrie Edge, we strive to deliver quality recreational programs to inspire gymnasts at all levels of ability and experience. We teach correct techniques to enable our gymnasts to build complex and challenging skills.
What does it take to be successful in recreational gymnastics?
The number one thing it takes to be successful in gymnastics is to approach the class with a positive attitude. Tied for number one in importance is having a good coach that keeps practice interesting! Next, regular attendance is extremely helpful. And finally, success requires good practice habits. For example, gymnasts must be able to follow the gym rules independently or with guidance. Gymnasts must also be capable of paying attention in class independently or with guidance.
Physical ability is not as big of a consideration as you may expect. The sport itself builds strength, balance, coordination, confidence, and fitness. Skills are learned in small steps, or adapted to the gymnast, so everyone can progress.
Some gymnasts are naturally strong, flexible and coordinated. We accommodate their fast learning in recreactional programs by moving them rapidly through the levels. Because gymnastic skills rely on specific techniques, it is important not to skip the basics.
Is gymnastics right for my child?
Many children enjoy gymnastics. It appeals to their sense of adventure, daring, and energy. Some children dedicate themselves to the sport and take their gymnastics to high levels. Others enjoy attending for the fun activities, sociability, and ongoing challenges.
Gymnastics is an excellent foundation for the fundamental movements of most sports. Some children participate when they are young to create this base and then move on to other sports.
What to wear to gymnastics class?
Anything comfortable without zippers. The stomach and back should be covered at all times, even when the gymnasts are upside down. This provides comfort on the different apparatuses. If gymnasts wear tights, they must not cover the foot. Aerial Arts gymnasts are advised to wear close-fitting clothing that covers their lower back, hips, knees, and upper arms. Trampolinists often appreciate having their backs, knees, and elbows covered. Recreational program gymnasts do not need a fancy bodysuit.
Why bare feet?
Many of the gym surfaces are slippery: bare feet = safety. (If your child has plantar warts or fungus, cover them with a Band-Aid held in place by sports tape.) Gymnastics shoes with grippy soles are an alternative to bare feet.
Why tie my hair up?
Long hair gets in the way. Not only is it distracting, but it can easily fall over the eyes. Gymnasts need to see where they are going at all times.
Do I need handgrips?
Handgrips are not recommended in recreational gymnastics classes. They take a lot of time to put on and they do not prevent rips from the bars.
2. What age can you start gymnastics?
Early Learners: GymBabies.
Over 24 months to under 4 years:
Early Learners: Supertots.
4 years to under 6 years:
Early Learners: Dinosaurs to Superstars. From this program gymnasts can progress to KinderSonic Academy.
6 years and up:
CanGym, CanJump, or Gymnastics for Life.
15 years and up:
Drop-In Gymnastics. Prefer a class? Find three friends that are also interested. Depending on coach availability, we can set up a workshop series or customized classes for your group.
3. Program Descriptions
GymBabies: for ages 18-30 months (30 minutes, once per week). GymBabies attend with an adult (18 or older) to help them explore fun gymnastics and movement challenges.
Supertots: for ages over 24 months to under 4 years (50 minutes, once per week). Supertots attend with an adult (18 or older) to help them explore fun games, gymnastics, and movement challenges. With a grown-up at their side, small gymnasts can progress at their own rate. Older children (under age 6) are welcome to participate with a parent if the gymnast has social or developmental issues. Talk to the program Head Coach if this is something that you would like to consider.
Dinosaurs to Superstars: for ages over 4 years to under 6 years (1 hour, once per week, independent gymnastics). Our blended classes include: KinderSaurus, KinderRocket, KinderPlanet and KinderStar. The Dinosaurs to Superstars’ curriculum is loosely based on CanGym. When children are old enough for CanGym, experience in this program may allow them to start at a higher level. If children advance beyond KinderStar before they turn 6, they can join a KinderSonic Academy class.
KinderSonic Academy: for ages over 4 years to under 6 years (1 hour, once per week, independent gymnastics). Entry into this class is by progression from Dinosaurs to Superstars. Our blended classes include: KinderSonic, KinderGalaxy, and KinderAcademy. The KinderSonic Academy curriculum is closely based on the CanGym program, extra-packed with imaginative activities and age-appropriate gymnastics challenges. Coaches progress gymnasts through the levels so that when children are old enough for CanGym, they can start at level 3 or higher.
CanGym is our artistic gymnastics 12-level program (ages 6 years and up). CanGym is the same for girls and boys up to level 4. From level 5, there are different requirements for boys and girls. In general, boys and girls practice together. Occasionally, we offer a boys’ apparatus class for levels 6 and up. The artistic apparatuses are: vault, bars/highbar, beam, floor, parallel bars, rings and pommels/mushroom.
CanJump is our trampoline gymnastics 12-level program (ages 6 years and up). CanJump is the same for girls and boys throughout. The trampoline apparatuses are: trampoline, double-mini tramp (DMT), and power tumbling.
Gymnastics for Life
Freestyle: for ages 6 years and up. A combination of gymnastics, trampoline, and parkour/free-running skills. Participants who complete level 1 can continue in Freestyle or sign up for level 5 in CanGym or CanJump.
Aerial Arts: for ages 10 years and up. Aerial acrobatics training on the silks. A performance concludes the program during the fall and winter session.
Handsprings and Flips: for ages 10 years and up having completed CanGym or CanJump level 5. This class is exactly what it sounds like: gymnasts work on making their handsprings and flips awesome!
Jumpgym Team: for ages 10 years and up having completed level 8 in CanGym or CanJump. A gymnastics based ensemble focusing on tumbling and performance. The team represents Airdrie Edge at the Alberta Gymfest each year.
Drop-in: for ages 15 years and up. A structured warm-up followed by supervised gymnastics practice. Drop-in is open to those who want to brush up their gymnastics skills or try gymnastics for the first time.
4. Registration Questions
How do I know what level my child should start in?
• 24 months to under 6 years, sign up according to the age guidelines for each class.
• Gymnasts from age 6 years to under 12 years with no previous experience: sign up for level 1-3 in CanGym or CanJump. For Freestyle or Aerial Arts, sign up for level 1.
• Starting in the Fall 2015 session, gymnasts aged 12 and over with no previous experience: sign up for CanGym or CanJump level 4. In Freestyle or Aerial Arts, sign up for level 1.
• Or we can help you to decide through an assessment.
My child has been away from gymnastics for some time. Where should they start?
Returning gymnasts can start where they left off or you can arrange an assessment if you think another level might be suitable. Contact the Recreational Head Coach by email or through the front office.
My child is advanced. Where should they start?
Contact the Recreational Head Coach for an assessment.
What is an assessment? Can my child have one?
An assessment can determine what level your child should start at or continue in. The session lasts for 15 minutes and is free of charge. Assessments are available for gymnasts who:
• Transfer from another gymnastics or acrobatics program.
• Have taught themselves gymnastics.
• Transfer between programs. For example, from CanJump to CanGym, or from competitive to recreational.
• Are identified by their coach as needing an assessment.
Contact the Recreational Head Coach by email or through the front office for an assessment.
Why does the Airdrie Edge not have make-up classes?
If we cannot provide a coach for a class, we will reschedule or refund for missed classes. However, if you have registered for classes and miss a class, we do not offer make-up classes. Class sizes are set by the Alberta Gymnastics Federation: we cannot have gymnasts dropping in on classes to make up for ones that they have missed.
I am on the waitlist. Can you fit just one more child in the class?
Our maximum class sizes are set by the Alberta Gymnastics Federation. We cannot exceed the guidelines.
My child’s birthday is close to the age cut-off date. Help!
We feel your pain. There is always going to be someone in this situation. You need to wait until your child is the correct age for the class according to the “age-by” date for each session.
We occasionally make exceptions in Gymnastics for Life programs, for example, in Handsprings and Flips, FreeStyle Level 2-3, and the Jumpgym Team. Contact the Recreational Head Coach if your child is not old enough but meets the skill prerequisites for these programs.
My child is sick, injured, or we are moving and they cannot continue. Can I get a refund?
Yes. Contact the front office. All refunds will incur a $15 administration charge and the AGF membership fee is non-refundable.
My child is not enjoying the classes. Can I get a refund?
Yes, as long as you inform us before your 4th class. Contact the front office in person or by email. After this 4th week, no refunds will be issues, unless a doctors note is provided. All refunds will incur a $15 administration charge and the AGF membership fee is non-refundable.
Do you do private lessons?
Yes. Private lessons can be beneficial, but they are subject to coach availability. Contact the Recreational Head Coach by email or through the front office.
What is the AGF membership fee?
The membership fee goes directly to two organizations: the Alberta Gymnastics Federation and Gymnastics Canada. It covers insurance, governance, and other activities that support the sport of gymnastics. The fee is payable once per year (July 1 to June 30) and is not transferable.
5. Questions about Classes
What are the rules in the gym?
We have ten rules to help gymnasts to stay safe and get the most out of their classes:
1. Coaches are in charge of what happens in the gym.
2. Pay attention.
3. Do not attempt gymnastics skills without permission.
4. Always land on your feet unless you are instructed otherwise.
5. Stay with your group.
6. Stop immediately when you are asked to.
7. Watch out for other people and for uneven surfaces.
8. Stay out of the gym and off the apparatus unless you are with a coach.
9. Dress appropriately for gymnastics activity.
10. If you are late for class, check in with your coach before you join in.
Other rules are implicit, according to common sense in a multi-age learning situation; for example: no hitting or grabbing, no name-calling, no distracting other gymnasts, no horseplay, no offensive language, and no fighting (even play-fighting).
Why are there so many levels in one class?
The blended classes represent different learning stages. For example, in CanGym and CanJump:
• Level 1-3 is introductory gymnastics,
• Level 4-5 is a transition to intermediate gymnastics,
• Level 6-8 is intermediate gymnastics, and
• Level 9-12 is advanced gymnastics.
In Gymnastics for Life classes, level 1 is introductory, level 2 is intermediate and level 3 is advanced.
Why does my child’s class appear to do the same thing every week?
Our programs are built around the fundamental gymnastics skills: swing, spring, landings, rotations, stationary positions and locomotions.
Before gymnasts learn more advanced skills, they must master the basics—it is a matter of technique and safety. Progression happens in small steps. Basic skills are practiced every class with many repetitions to build fitness, activate body awareness, and to turn good techniques into habits. If you observe advanced gymnasts, you will see that they too practice their basic skills every time they are in the gym.
It is up to the coaches to make the work of repetition seem fun and/or purposeful. If your child’s coach is not conveying this to your child, bring it up with the coach.
Most classes follow a schedule set for them by the Program Head Coach. This way, everyone gets to the apparatus they need for the skills that they are working on.
It is up to individual coaches to plan their lessons to make the most of the apparatus. One of our missions at the Airdrie Edge is to develop coaches. Feedback from participants is one of the ways that coaches learn to be more effective. So please speak to the coach or to the Program Head Coach if you have comments, questions, or concerns.
Why does my child not get to go on all of the apparatuses?
The stations are set up to allow our gymnasts to practice the movements which define the program they are in. The coaches access the apparatuses according to a set schedule, created in consultation with the other groups in the gym.
My child really likes the trampoline and the pit. Why does their class not go there?
The trampolines are mostly used in the CanJump and Freestyle programs. Trampoline is not included in introductory/intermediate CanGym or the Early Learners’ curriculum, but they are sometimes used when available.
The pit is fun to jump into, but its main purpose is to protect gymnasts who are performing advanced skills.
At level 9, CanGym gymnasts start using the pit and trampolines more to work on tumbling and vaulting progressions.
We try to give everyone a chance to play in the pit on Bring-a-Friend day.
Bring-a-Friend Day: what is it?
Bring-a-Friend Day is a special event that happens in the Fall and Winter sessions. Gymnasts bring a friend to participate in class with them. It is a lot of fun, and we encourage everyone to join in. Please bring one friend that is close in age, and on the correct day. Friends who are under the age of four must be accompanied by their own supervising adult.
The Palooza: what is it?
The Palooza is a performance day for Aerial Arts, JumpGym and occasionally our advanced rec gymnasts. Paloozas happen at the end of the Fall and Winter sessions. It is a fun event where audience members get a chance to join in after the show.
6. Questions about Progress
How do children progress from one level to the next?
Each program is defined by a series of skills. To pass from one level to the next, gymnasts need to master the skills in the level they are in.
Mastery means that they can perform the skill, according to criteria, most of the time. Some levels may take multiple sessions to complete.
Sometimes we move children on although they have not mastered 100% of the skills. We do this when a gymnast is working on higher level skills in most areas and not missing key skills. Examples of key skills are: rolls, handstands, and cartwheels.
What happens when a gymnast finishes all of the levels?
Gymnasts who pass all of CanGym or CanJump earn a special recognition award from the Alberta Gymnastics Federation. Gymnastics for Life achievers are recognized at the club level. “Top Bananas” can continue training and progressing with the advanced groups, according to an individualized program. The program is created with input from the coach and the gymnast.
My child is not progressing. Help!
Maybe they are progressing, but not in a way that you or they understand. Talk to the coach.
My child has been stuck at the same level for a long time. Help!
Gymnasts like to improve and to feel that they are working with purpose. Striving for skills is motivating! So what happens when mastering new skills slows down?
There are a couple things that can restore excitement and progress:
1) Change programs for a new set of challenges. For example, if your child is in CanGym they can switch to CanJump or a Gymnastics for Life class.
2) Talk to the coach and come up with a plan. Sometimes a new focus, or extra practice, or fitness training outside of the gym can make a big difference.
7. Participation Concerns
My child has decided that they do not like gymnastics. Help!
Try to find out what is bothering your child and bring it up with the coach. It could be that your child does like gymnastics but is not voicing specific concerns. It might be that the activities are too hard, too easy, or too scary. Perhaps your child cannot get used to working with a new coach. All of these things can be fixed.
Change can help, especially if your child used to like gymnastics:
• Another Edge program might be inspiring. For example, gymnasts often move between our CanGym, CanJump, Freestyle, and Aerial Arts classes.
• Another coach might make the difference.
• Your child may need a break from gymnastics, and will happily participate at a future date.
• Another sport or activity might make the difference.
I am not happy with my child’s coach. Help!
One of our missions at the Airdrie Edge is to develop coaches. Feedback from participants and their parents is one of the ways that coaches can learn to be more effective.
We understand that it can be difficult to speak to your child’s coach if you are not happy. We recommend that you speak to the coach first. However, you can also contact the Program Head Coach, by email or through the front office, to schedule a meeting if required.
Sometimes a change of coaches is possible, depending on class availability at different days and times.
My child is bored. Help!
We do our best to encourage everyone. The more information we have the better. If your child does not like gymnastics in the first place, it can just feel like a lot of work, or perhaps there is something very specific affecting their attitude. Try to find out what is bothering your child and bring it up with the coach.
My child is getting injured all of the time. Help!
Children are in at a rapid social, physical, and cognitive developmental stage, and not everyone develops at the same rate. Their mind may not connect to what their body is doing. They may not be paying attention to instructions. They may get distracted in the middle of a skill. They may be overtired. They may not have the physical strength it takes to perform skills they used to do easily because they are growing so fast. Talk to the coach or the Program Head Coach and we may be able to come up with some ideas.
There is a bully in my child’s class. Help!
Bullying is not acceptable. Please speak to any of the Airdrie Edge staff rather than confront the child or their parents directly. If it is happening in front of you and needs to be stopped, any staff member can help you.
What about disabilities, developmental delays, behavioural, and physical challenges?
It is very much a part of gymnastics for coaches to adapt and accommodate to individual differences. And we are happy to do it!
It is definitely important to inform us before classes start if your child needs accommodation. Please contact the Program Head Coach by email or through the front office.
We advise that if your child has an aide at school, they should also have an aide in gymnastics class. Sometimes it works to have a parent on standby at the side of the gym. This needs to be arranged in advance so that we are all working with the same goals and expectations.
Some behavioural issues do prevent children from participating in gymnastics classes. Please speak to the Program Head Coach if you would like to discuss whether or not this may be true for your child.
What can my child do at home to benefit their gymnastics?
The best thing that you can do is to promote a healthy lifestyle. Encourage your child to be active, feed them nutritious food, make sure they get enough sleep, and maintain a balance of activities.
Help your gymnast to appreciate their successes, and support the learning to be gained from set-backs or disappointments.
Finally, the number one gymnastics skill to practice at home is the handstand. Remember to make enough room and to use walls, not doors.
8. Illness and Injury
Rips and blisters on bars or rings. What do I do?
A rip: trim the flap of skin off with sharp scissors (do not tear it off). Wash it with soap and water (this will sting). To continue practicing: cover the rip with a sterile dressing (such as a Band-Aid) held in place by sports tape. To help it to heal between practices, cover it with a burn dressing.
A blister: do not pop the blister. To continue practicing, change to support skills rather than swinging skills. If the blister pops during practice, treat it like a rip. When the blister heals after a few days and drains on its own, trim the extra skin with sharp scissors. If the skin under the blister is still raw, treat it like a rip.
My Band-Aids will not stay on. Help?
Cover Band-Aids with sports tape for gymnastics practice.
Should my child attend if they are ill or injured?
Older gymnasts can usually work through mild upper-respiratory illnesses and headaches. Younger children usually have a harder time working when they are ill.
Please do not bring gymnasts with known or suspected contagious illnesses to class.
For injuries it depends on the class, the age of the gymnast, and the severity of the injury. Training can be adapted to accommodate mild injuries.
If a child is not feeling well, or they have a mild injury, be sure to tell the coach at the beginning of practice.
9. Gymnastics Coaches
Who trains coaches?
Our coaches are trained and certified through the National Coaching Certification Program.
Who supervises coaches?
It depends on the coach. New coaches are generally under the direct supervision of a senior coach. More experienced coaches watch each other. Each program has a head coach to make sure this happens.
How can I become a coach?
Talk to the Recreational Head Coach. You will start by volunteering and shadowing classes. It is important to find out if you enjoy coaching, also to receive feedback on whether you are suitable to be a coach. There are then a series of courses to take. The minimum age to volunteer is 12. The minimum age for coaching and taking courses is 15.
How can I contact my child’s coach?
For a quick word, the end of the class is the best time. Just wait at the gate where gymnasts exit and catch the coach’s attention. For a longer talk, you can arrange in advance: email the coach through the Program Head Coach or the front office. We can often arrange for someone to cover a coach’s warm-up so the coach can speak to you.
I lost my notice. How can I find out what was on it?
At the present time, contact the front office or email the Program Head Coach. In the future, notices will be available on our website.
I have a comment, question, or a concern.
Email the Program Head Coach or the front office. If the matter is urgent, we can pull coaches off the floor to deal with it.