Changing Programs: Is It Worth It?

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CheerDaily

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Photo by Roman Polyachenko Photography



By: Shane Womack

Many people wouldn’t think twice about switching gyms or programs, but “gym-hopping” has become a big issue within the All Star Cheer community. Both parents and athletes should consider several things before making any decision to move. While some circumstances force a tough decision, the grass really isn’t always greener.

We all know what loyalty means: to show support and allegiance to a brand, program or team. It is incredibly important. These days, gyms pop up and disappear nearly as fast as they open, so do some research!

If you’ve been a part of a program, think about how long you’ve been there. Chances are, this is where you got your start. Am I right? More than likely that gym owner or a coach is the reason that you have the skills you have. Gym Owners and Coaches spend hours upon hours working with athletes because they believe in you as an athlete.

Have you left a program and went to another before? How many times will you switch programs before you look at yourself in the mirror? The only competition you should be worried about is the one in the mirror.

Think about your brand. Don’t get a reputation of leaving because of a split decision or leaving a gym balance on your account. You’ve worn that logo on your uniform for a while now and you’ve probably altered your wardrobe to your gym colors. You’ve branded yourself as a representative of that team/program so try really hard to consider how much that program means to you before you jump ship.

How established is the program you’re at? Just because a “shiny” new program opened up down the road does not mean that you’re going to be a pointe dancer or flyer. Everyone has dreams and we promise you that your current program has you in the position that’s best for you and your team. They don’t place you on a team or in a position for a negative reason. You earn what you work for!

Are you being recruited? If you answer yes… what are they offering you that your current gym can’t? Have you weighed both options and created a list of pros and cons? What happens when you make the decision to move to a new program and all they wanted was to get you in the door and you’re not getting that individual attention that you were promised? Sit down with your current program owner or coach and let them know your thoughts. It will go a lot further than you think and you’ll probably be happier after a quick chat.

Moving teams because you didn’t make it to Worlds or a bid event this year? If your answer is yes, then ask yourself: “Did I put in every ounce of effort that I could have to motivate myself or our team to be better?” If you can’t say a 100% yes, then more than likely others on your team can’t either. Don’t immediately place blame on your gym or coaches and think that they are the reason YOU weren’t successful. Remember this is a team sport and you have to motivate your teammates to work just as hard as you do. This year’s World Champs didn’t win because of the name on the front of their uniform, they worked hard on and off the mat and put in 110% while you were only putting in 75% and missing practices.​

Oh, and don’t forget. There are lots of financial costs associated with moving which means new… everything. Is it worth it?​

While we all have our individual reasons for parting ways with anything. Triple check your thoughts before making that major decision. You may regret it. It really would stink to be a part of that team one year, and then get beat by them the next.​





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dawgshow

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Oct 14, 2010
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While there are some good points to this article, so much of what you wrote really grates on my nerves. While I'm sure that there are plenty of people who switch gyms because Susie didn't get to be the shining star, most people that I know who made the switch did so for far different reasons. Also, in the grand scheme of things gym switching isn't really a major decision.

Do your research? Absolutely. Stick around simply for brand loyalty? No thanks.
 

quitthedrama

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Do your research? Absolutely. Stick around simply for brand loyalty? No thanks.
This. There were some very good points in this article, but I am so tired of having the "loyalty" card thrown at me. Sometimes gyms don't have enough spots on a team for all of the athletes who try out with a certain skill level. Sometimes gyms spend so much time making one or two athletes the star that other athletes are forced to water down skills that could be highlighted at a different program. Sometimes a coach and an athlete just don't mix. The gym doesn't put the athlete above their best business interests in most cases, so why should athletes stay just to "be loyal". When I hear coaches/gym owners say "I taught x athlete all of their skills - how could they leave?". Unless that athlete was on a full scholarship, that athlete (or parent) paid for those skills. It is expected as part of tuition/privates/tumbling classes that skills are taught!! An athlete should be free to decide when and where they cheer without the stigma of being branded a traitor or gym hopper.
 

oncecoolcoachnowmom

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The longer I've coached, the more I see this differently.

I was a "loyalty" person at one point. Then I became someone's parent.

For example, my kid was once in preschool at a school that we love. I loved that school and it fit him at the time. However, if I felt like the school was not meeting his needs (say, they decided that they were going to switch to just coloring all day and watching Spongebob), I would have started looking for another school ASAP. I would never say "I'm just loyal to this school" because we went there for 2 years. Also, the school wouldn't be like "OMG WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS LEAVING US? WE HAVE HAD HER SON SINCE SHE STARTED FOSTERING HIM!" Maybe they would, but that is not my issue. My issue is my son.

Same with cheer parents. Their job is not really to be loyal to a gym, but to focus on what their child needs.

Yes, there are people who change gyms every year looking for a title, but those are the 1% of cheerleading.

Yes, there are people who are going to go from place to place looking for the highest level team offer they can get. It happens. Again, the 1%.

But the vast majority of people who get the "gym hopper" label really don't deserve it. They've done a lot of thinking about leaving. It's not easy for them (especially if their kid grew up there and they love it.) They have gone back and forth, and just want to make a change that is going to be best for their kid.
 
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L5cheermom

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Just about everything about this ticks me off. It makes me crazy when coaches try to own the skills of the athletes. Sure, their guidance may have helped them, but with that mentality we should be able to blame them for the athletes that don't progress. They certainly don't want to take ownership for that! I never had a coach come to me in the years and thousands of dollars I spent trying to get my CP to master her BHS series and say " I'm sorry. I failed in my attempt to give your child her BHS series. Here's your money back." However, they want to own my other child's double full? No! If it were free then perhaps the loyalty argument would hold water. As the industry is constructed it just doesn't. I do agree with the writer on one aspect though. I can't imagine switching gyms every year and having to buy parent shirts and other team spirit items over and over. THAT could become a deterrent.
 

Cheerfun2

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Sigh, this really hits home for me right now. We just changed gyms and it. Was. Hard. At least for me...I am an extremely loyal person who values relationships & history. It was killing me that cp seemed (to me) to just be arbitrarily ditching the gym we had been with since she was 5 for a "bright, shiny, new, BIG gym." The decision process caused much angst in our household. Finally, Mr. Cheerfun2 sat me down & said, "Look, this is cp's sport, not ours. And just because you have this huge sense of loyalty to our gym...you're not the one out there on the mat. Let's give cp some ownership of this decision which ultimately affects her more than either of us. Let's see how it plays out. After all, no matter how much our gym calls itself a "family"...it's a business."

Mr. Cheerfun2 is really quite smart. Cp left, is extraordinarily happy, has gained new skills, made new friends AND kept old...and REALLY loves new gym. I am adjusting, and can also already admire new gym. It helps that I am not really on social media so have blissfully missed cryptic posts from old gym. New gym is a very positive environment. This article hurts because it is so one-sided...I wonder if our old gym owner ghost-wrote it!
 

Carriejoe

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Sep 21, 2013
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Sigh, this really hits home for me right now. We just changed gyms and it. Was. Hard. At least for me...I am an extremely loyal person who values relationships & history. It was killing me that cp seemed (to me) to just be arbitrarily ditching the gym we had been with since she was 5 for a "bright, shiny, new, BIG gym." The decision process caused much angst in our household. Finally, Mr. Cheerfun2 sat me down & said, "Look, this is cp's sport, not ours. And just because you have this huge sense of loyalty to our gym...you're not the one out there on the mat. Let's give cp some ownership of this decision which ultimately affects her more than either of us. Let's see how it plays out. After all, no matter how much our gym calls itself a "family"...it's a business."

Mr. Cheerfun2 is really quite smart. Cp left, is extraordinarily happy, has gained new skills, made new friends AND kept old...and REALLY loves new gym. I am adjusting, and can also already admire new gym. It helps that I am not really on social media so have blissfully missed cryptic posts from old gym. New gym is a very positive environment. This article hurts because it is so one-sided...I wonder if our old gym owner ghost-wrote it!

This was exactly our situation last year. It was very hard for me because of the loyalty thing. CP was all in and hasn't looked back.

I do agree in the article that "hopping" is something that needs to be in check. Moving every year? That's insane. Moving once in your cheer career? And for the right reasons? Completely appropriate. Don't they say that people change their career or job at least 5 times in their life? That certainly doesn't make them disloyal, it's called growth.
 

oncecoolcoachnowmom

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Something else I wanted to add:

Some coaches will say "but we're you're friends/family!" Or you as a parent may think "But they're our friends!"

You don't have to be at the same gym to be friends.

Unless you're moving far away, those kids and parents who are REALLY your friends as they say they are, will keep in touch.

This goes for coaches and owners, too. Being "family" shouldn't be contingent on people staying with your program.

It is a sign of a great, mature owner or coach if they can continue to view/treat you as family even if you're with That Gym Down The Street next season.

It bothers me when I hear about coaches or owners side-eyeing former athletes/parents at comps, not saying hi to them, trash talking them, etc. You are an adult. You have no business trash-talking a child to whoever will listen. You're a real Petty Ruxpin.

Are there kids/parents who are going to trash-talk you after they leave? Yeah. But that's likely the 1% of kids who leave gyms and you need not reciprocate it.
 

Cheerfun2

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^yes, I sooo hope that the owner & coaches at her old gym will treat us, especially cp, kindly when we see them. This gym was a huge part of cp's childhood and it would really hurt her if they give her the cold shoulder. I have not said a single negative thing to anyone about old gym. In fact, it pains me when I hear of other athletes following my cp to the new gym. I truly wish them well. Unfortunately, I have heard from others who have left in previous years that they get treated very coldly at comps.
 
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SheCheers

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Mar 6, 2011
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I wonder how the author of this article/blog feels when kids from other gyms come to their program. Do they shoo them out and say "no no, you should stay loyal to your previous gym." Do they not take their money?

In my experience I can see how the Susie gym hopper phenomenon happens. These are usually fairly talented athletes and they (or their parents) seem to thrive on attention. When new kids walk into a new gym, pay attention to how they're treated, especially if they are highly skilled. More often than not they are showered with attention, given optimal spots in routines, etc. until the next season when another new Susie walks in. The kids/parents that thrive on that are now Jonesing for their next attention fix. They go to the next gym where they'll get that love again until it is given to the next new Susie...
 
Dec 2, 2013
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There are some aspects in this article I agree with but the loyalty point really bugs me. At the end of the day it's a business. We are paying these gyms and in return we (sometimes) get new skills. Of course you make friends and grow connections but there is no contract at the start of the season that says you have to stay with that program no matter what because you have paid for 6 years or you are on a scholarship. I think it's ridiciulus to expect us as customers to stay with one program our whole life. The owner of a local grocery store won't get mad if you leave even if you were a regular customer. Sure they might miss you, but they can't expect you to buy from them your whole life.
 
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