Feed Full Article... Welcome to the wonderful world of All Star Cheerleading, from a Cheer Mom’s point of view. Choosing a cheer gym can be a complicated process, but with a system in place, answers to a few basic questions, and a little bit of research, you’ll be on the road to finding a wonderful gym that is a great match – not only for your cheer-child, but also for you! Take a look at the steps that we used when we searched for our first cheer gym. Determine the distance and direction you are willing to travel to your gym. Are you looking for one the next town over? Are you willing to travel an hour or more? Keep in mind you will probably be at the gym 3+ times per week, even more frequently as the teams prepare for competition season and require extra and longer practices during the week. Take a map, put your pen at your home point, chart the points on your map north, south, east, and west that are within the distance you decided upon. Draw a radius so you can see what towns fall within your desired location-range. With this information at hand, do an internet search to find all star cheer gyms within that radius. If you get results, print or write them down on a list. If you do not get results, you will need to expand your distance and try again. Begin contacting the gyms on your list (by email and phone) to see if they have times during the week where they would allow you to stop in and visit/tour the gym. What I found at this stage (and was very surprised by) was that MANY gyms did NOT return phone calls, and several of them did not respond to my emails either. I even stopped at some of the gyms in person inquiring and leaving my name and number for the owner or gym manager to contact me – and even then, I did not get called back! Ironically, the gym that we chose is one of the only ones to have responded back to my request quickly. They made an appointment with us to visit their gym, and suggested that my daughter attend a practice with an age/skill appropriate team. Make visits to the gyms – (some of them we ended up just “popping in” on, as they had yet to return our calls or emails). We had a mental list of things we were looking for that were important to us (remember – we were first timers and didn’t know ANYTHING about all star cheerleading at this point). Cleanliness/Organization – in my opinion, a clean and organized gym portrayed a safe and well run gym. This was an important aspect that we looked for when making our site visits – and we definitely eliminated some gyms based on not meeting this criteria. The gym’s ability to offer different levels and ages for teams-We had read a few things when researching all star cheerleading, and understood that teams were grouped by skill level and age. We wanted a midsize to large gym that had several teams of varying skill and age levels so there was room to move, should our daughter decide to continue with all-star cheerleading. This may vary depending upon what you are looking for and the age or skill level of your daughter. We put this on our list based on experiences from the soccer world where not having the stepping stones to continue to follow meant moving to a different club in order to still play. We didn’t want our cheer daughter to have to go through that – so we added this requirement to our list. The ratio of staff to children-Like in school or on other sports teams, we were looking to see if there was a healthy balance, especially since this sport involved a need for spotting during training. The overall atmosphere of the gym. Was it friendly and inviting? Was it dark and depressing? Were the people in the gym pleasant? We would be spending a good deal of time at this gym, and we wanted it to be a pleasant environment, as well. Their business history. How many years were they in business? We didn’t mind if we had found a gym that was new, but preferred to have a gym that had been in business for a little while and was experienced. (Once we were involved in the world of all-star cheerleading, we found out how important being established in the cheer industry is, and how much of a factor that seems to have on the successes of their team at competitions. Not saying that new gyms aren’t good gyms – it just seems that established gyms seem to be larger and have more options available. We chose a gym that had been established for several years, but was still building and evolving. All star cheer gyms are not common in our rural Northeastern area. We actually had to have our radius set over an hour from our home in order to even get results. We were able to quickly narrow down our already small list based on our criteria above. Schedule a complimentary practice session for your child. Most gyms will offer this, and it’s a great way to see the gym “in action” and even ask questions of other parents that will be there watching their child’s practice. We scheduled a complimentary practice for our daughter at one of the gyms that had made the cut (coincidentally, it was the first one to contact us back). Our first visit to the gym we had the opportunity to tour it with the owner, meet a few of the coaches, see a team at practice, and have many of our questions answered. Our daughter was invited back to attend a complimentary practice, which we scheduled for a few days later. She would be practicing with one of their younger and less experienced teams – a good match for her as a beginner. With a great deal of excitement and a little bit of nervousness, she went out on that spring floor, blended right in with a team of little girls all fairly new to the sport, and fell in love! And that’s the day I became an All Star Cheer Mom.