Gymnastics for School-Age Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • Outdoor gymnastics

    Aug 19, 2021

    I am looking for outdoor gymnastics for my three grandchildren since covid makes indoors a worry.  If there is a coach who could go to their backyard with some equipment that would work.  They have mats, a balance beam, and a small bar.  More equipment would be good.  Alternatively going somewhere else outdoors with better equipment would work.  The kids are 10,8,5 and have been in gymnastics classes for years.

    I would be shocked if you found this.  I imagine liability for gymnastics classes is high and requires certain safety practices that you aren't going to get outdoors, especially if you are talking about kids who aren't beginners.  Uneven bars are tethered to the ground for safety, floors have spring systems under them that make moving them difficult, I could go on and on here.  Moving equipment outdoors then indoors each day so they don't degrade overnight in the dew, is time consuming and tiring, even it was possible.  Better to find a place where they have industrial garage doors that open wide for ventilation, and with fans during the day.  

  • Girls' gymnastic classes

    Apr 18, 2021


    our, now 6-year old daughter, went to gymnastics in Walnut Creek before the pandemic. Last summer we moved to Albany and would like to enroll her soon again. Would anyone know where there are good gyms with classes around and what their plan for re-opening is? She'll be going to school next fall and we'd need to look into evening or weekend classes. Thanks, Iris

    I just made the reverse move, from there to WC! Our daughter took gymnastics from the El Cerrito Park & Rec for a few years. Bindi and her staff are amazing, and they had classes after school starting from about 3pm and going into the evening. I have no idea what the fall schedule will be, but they always ran a waitlist before, so I'd register on the first day I could. It's only a 5 minute drive from Albany, and there is plenty of parking at the community center.

    If you want to PM me, I'd love to know about the classes you had in WC.

    Try Ultimate Sports Connection in Concord. They are great!  


    Golden Bears gymnastics in Berkeley is a good option. They are part of UC Berkeley. They currently have Zoom classes available for all and summer camps will be open to everyone. All of the gymnastics camps are 100% full but you can get on the waitlist by going through the registration process. They also have in-person offerings currently available for dependents of UC Berkeley faculty, staff and students. You can email gbgym [at] for more info. Other local options are Head Over Heels in Emeryville.

  • My 5 year old has been asking about gymnastics classes. Looking for opinions on CalRec vs. University Village vs. El Cerrito community center (for a fall start, not summer camp).


    I have experience with Albany Villiage and El Cerrito.Both were good but I stopped going to the University one in Albany for a few reasons.There is just a porta potty and no sink,there are just metal bleachers which are horrible to sit on for 45 minutes and I did not like that the kids had to ask permission to go to their water bottles-why not just keep them closer?This keeps them from drinking water when they need to.El Cerrito was more enjoyable.

    My daughter has been with the El Cerrito community center since she was 3 years old. She is 4.5 years old now and she still loves it. They provides different obstacles on each day which are very age-appropriated. The class lasts 35 minutes and is held on either Monday or Wednesday afternoon. The coaches are very friendly and love working with kids. Lots of fun there.

    My 4 yo son loves the Golden Bear gymnastics classes through CalRec.   

  • Does anyone have any experience with the development classes at Head Over Heels gymnastics in Emeryville or the development gymnastics classes at Golden Bear at Berkeley? We are looking for a class that teaches more skill and technique than the recreational classes have to offer but also keeps the classes fun!   My daughter wants to learn more and has has natural talent, but we don't want anything too intense or stressful for her right now. Any insight into those gyms would be appreciated! Trying to decide between the two...or some third option....or just staying recreational.


    My daughter was on a compulsory team at Golden Bears, and it ended up being too demanding timewise for her and she chose to switch to the Xcel program. If you are not familiar with it, Xcel is a competitive program, but much less demanding and more relaxed than the Junior Olympic compulsory levels. They still compete, but the system is more flexible in terms of what skills you learn when, and the practice time every week is a third of her former team. She is loving it and having a great time- it's a perfect medium for kids who are serious about gymnastics but don't want it to take over their whole lives. Both Head Over Heels and Golden Bears offer Xcel teams. We've been very happy with the program at Golden Bears.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Gymnastics for low-income 7 year old girl

Jan 2013

What gymnastics classes are there for 7-year old girls in Berkeley/Oakland? Weekends would be preferable, and financial support/scholarships would be very helpful.

The University of Berkeley has a great gymnastic program for children of all ages and is very affordable. Here's their site: (I think it is $70 for January - June. Another parent

I recommend Golden Bear Gymnastics (on the Cal Clark Kerr Campus in Berkeley) with great enthusiasm. My daughter has been taking classes there for nearly two years and has loved every teacher she has had. The teachers are kind and very attentive and well trained. The kids learn a LOT. They have a very full range of classes from beginners to serious high level competition. But the gym feels very low key (which I like) and the kids always seem very happy. I am not sure about financial support but I do know the Golden Bear costs are lower than those of commercial gyms. gymnastics mom

Try one of the YMCAs. I believe they do offer scholarships and sliding scale classes.

Seeking gymnastics class for 5 year old

Dec 2012

We're looking for a gymnastics class in Berkeley, Albany or Oakland that is appropriate for a 5 year old with no prior gymnastics experience. We also belong to the Berkeley Y, but their offerings are meager for movement-based classes for his age group. I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

My child went to Flips-n-Flops Gymnastics, he loved it. Great talented teachers, reasonable price, not too big place. We tried other places and prefered over there. Flips-n-Flops Gymnastics. 5327 Jacuzzi Street, Suite 3-I Richmond, CA 94804 (510) 525-3313. fax (510)525-3315.

If you're located nr. highway 24 then a trip through the tunnel to Lafayette is as close as Albany or Oakland. Offering classes for 5 yr olds. good luck in your search

Gymnastics for a Less Physical 5 year old

Sept 2012

Hi there, My 5 year old son has just ''graduated'' from occupational therapy aimed at helping him with gross motor skills. He's very bright and not considered special needs, but has been very reluctant to be physical, although he desperately wants to be. The OT recommended that we try a smaller gymnastics class for him to continue to encourage him to be physical. I'm wondering if anyone has a recommendation for a class where the instructors would be patient with a 5 year old who a little scared of the physical stuff. He really blossoms with a patient teacher, but would likely shut down in the face of impatience. Any recommendations? Anne

My kiddo tends to be the less physical type and went through a phase of being afraid to try *anything.* We had a good experience at Head Over Heels once I found the right class and teacher for her. (She is almost 5, this was just last spring.) It may depend on how full their classes are and maybe their Feb - March sessions are less crowded (I'm not sure...), but the first class my daughter tried was too large for her and the teacher (I think Anthony?) wasn't sensitive to what she was going through. But then I switched her into a small class (2 kids!) with Brittany and that ended up being one of the best things we've ever done for our less-than- physical child. Brittany was amazing with her - playful, patient and upbeat and it really helped that it was such a small class. After that class, my daughter really made huge strides in being more physical and trying more things: climbing, jumping, etc. So that is my recommendation: HOH w/ Brittany and if you can enroll your child in a class no bigger than 2-3 kiddos. Good luck! anon

My 4 year old has been taking gymnastics for the past 2 years at University Village in Albany, and it is wonderful. Matt Schwey and Victoria Bryant are the teachers, and the classes are small. Matt and Victoria are both very patient, and there are always all different skill levels in the class and Victoria will often sit with a child and be more one on one with them if they need that extra support. I would email Matt and ask him your questions and what class he would recommend for your child -- he is very helpful and responds quickly to emails. You can look up the classes online as well as his contact info if you google university village Albany recreation program. Cara

My son (6 years old) also graduated from OT last year and the therapist suggested either gymnastics or judo. He, like yours, is not special needs, but had gross motor skill problems. We decided to try the judo place she recommended because her own son went there for many years and she had great things to say about it: (Hanabi Judo in Albany). My son has been going there for almost a year now and it has been so great for him. He has developed a real confidence in himself physically that he never had before, as well as being able to do all kinds of things physically that were hard for him before. I love the atmosphere here because it's not high pressure at all. The teachers take each kid where he/she is at and work with them. Also the older kids help the younger kids in a way that is really nice. I think they have created such a warm, accepting family-like feeling here it has been exactly what my son needed. Good luck to you! Mom

Gymnastics party for 8 year old

Feb 2012

I'm looking for a place to have my daughter's 8th birthday party that focuses on circus arts, gymnastics or similar activities. Head over Heels, Kinetic Arts Center, Skilly Circus, and Big Island Gymnastics all do parties. Would appreciate hearing good/bad experiences or strong recommendations for any of them (or any others!). Thanks Mom of an active 8 yr old

I only know head over heals and kinetic arts center of those you listed. Head over heals teaches good classes, and has some fun teachers. However, the venue is a large hall, and I cannot imagine a birthday party in that place in between other people still taking classes. Kinetic Arts Center is much more intimate. I have been to a birthday party there. It was lovely. Nice atmosphere since it's a small place. The staff is very friendly and accommodating, and very eager to make this a special event. The guests were welcome to participate in all or some or none parts of the program. There was no pressure, but a lot of support. My child who is a year younger, would prefer a venue where her's is the only party. But yours might like the sports hall atmosphere better. Have a fun party.

Gymnastics Class for 5 year old boy

August 2008

Hello, We showed our 5 y/o boy gymnastics and diving from the Olympics and he seems to have the bug! All the reviews about different places are a few years old. Where should go, which should we avoid? We live in Oakland. Many thanks, Bobbie

Hi, I had great luck with Kids in Motion on Piedmont Avenue. My daughter was 3 and 4 when she went there (last 2 years), and she loved it. The teachers were very enthusiastic and attentive, the class sizes were small, the difficulty of the exercises was age-appropriate, and they kept things moving along and lots of fun. I highly recommend it. Oakland Mom

My boys (3 and 5) have done a few sessions at Head Over Heels in Emeryville and love it there. They do gymnastics and also circus classes, which include some trapeze, clowning, juggling, etc. More info at Gotta Tire Them Out Somehow

My daughter has been attending gymnastics at Head Over Heels in Emeryville for a year now. They have great coaches from beginners gym tots to the competitive classes. happy with Head Over Heels' offerings

This isn't straight gymnastics, but very fun for a 5 year old. Trapeze Arts is a wonderful circus school in Oakland, where he can learn tumbling, trapeze, trampoline, etc. It's non-competitive and fun, with close attention paid to safety. The family that runs the school are wonderful, caring people who hire the same. Have fun! Heidi

Our son took a week long gymnastics camp at . I was a bit apprehensive but he LOVED every minute of it. I've since taken him for a weekend class and he chose not to participate until Ashley coaxed him to the mat. She proceeded to give him a private lesson that day. All the other staff have been fantastic with my son, too. Don't let the location avert you, they're near the 24hr fitness/Home Depot at 880/High St. Tumble Heaven Close to Home

Gymnastics class for 6 y.o. with special needs

Nov 2005

Hi, I'm looking for a great, fun, small gymnastics (or lively uncomplicated dance) class for my energetic 6 year old son who has some attention and social deficits, but who is also a very exhuberant and friendly guy. He loves to tumble, jump and hop around, and since his O.T. at school has recommended that he better his lagging gross motor skills, we thought a gymnastics class might be a great way for him to use his abundant energy and learn some skills in a fun way. I'm particularly looking for a really good teacher, ideally with some experience with special needs kids, but much more importantly skilled and sensitive and patient! Thanks, Julia

My 6 year old son has been taking gymnastics classes at Kids in Motion (, on Piedmont Ave., for a few years now and the staff seem quite aware of a variety of developmental issues and have been able to help redirect my son (sensory intergration issues and language delays). He's been in classes just slightly under his actual age-level which has worked out fine for us socially and developmentally (eg. he's in a class for 4-5 yr. olds right now). I would avoid Sat. midday classes because the studio is quite noisy and distracting, and try for a day when there is maybe only one other class going on at the same time. Good luck. Tracy

Windmill Gymnastics vs Head over Heels vs Albany Village

August 2003

Can anyone offer comparisons between gymnastic classes at Windmill v. Head over Heels v. Albany Village? My 6 y.o. did the Albany Village program last year, and while she enjoyed it, there seemed to be an awful lot of sitting around. I'm wondering if the other programs are superior. Thanks, Monika

We were disappointed in Windmill gymnastics. Briefly the instructors were young (in their early teens), distracted and bored. My child left after completing one session even though she wanted to leave after the third class. Most everyone in my child's class left and went to Golden Bear gymnastics at UC Berkeley. By comparison Golden Bear is so professionally run and they have unrivalled equipment and sp Liking the Gold Bear

Birthday party at a gym

Feb 2000

We recently went to a great party at Bay Island Gymnastics (BIG) in Alameda for a six year old that was terrific. Check them out. Curryville

Birthday party: The Golden Bear Recreation Center , east of Clark Kerr Campus at UCB has a fun gymnastics birthday packet. Their number is 642-9821. Aleta

The past couple years I reserved the gym at the Albany YMCA (on Kains and Solano): that way the kids have a great indoor place to play, a brief time for refreshments and gift opening, and presto! it's over. Two years in row is enough for my little one, though, so this year I'll have to come up with something else.

Birthday party at a gym for 7 year old

Nov 1997

Our daughter wants to have her 7th birthday party at Head Over Heels Gymnastics in Emeryville. Head Over Heels is quite expensive--$280 for 25 kids; we're willing to spend this kind of money if the parties are staffed by interactive, well-trained party teachers who are able to create a fun, well-paced celebration.

Last year we had a very disappointing experience with a gymnastics party at Golden Bear Gymnastics (low energy teachers, no effort made to make the birthday girl feel special, kids spent a lot of time standing around, etc.).

Has anyone hosted or attended a birthday party at Head Over Heels? What was the overall quality of the event? Thanks for your help!  Karen

we haven't used head over heels, but we've used the albany YMCA, just off solano, for two years running. the teacher is great, there's a separate party room for food and presents, and the activities and equipment keep the kids engaged for the duration. the organized activities single out the birthday boy or girl.

it's a good deal cheaper than head over heels, as well. tipping the teacher is recommended -- twenty bucks at the end of the session is conventional. Michael

My daughter had a birthday party at Head Over Heels when she was a student there. As I recall, the kids had a great time and the teachers at that time were a group of energetic, young people who really organized the kids well and gave them a workout. I have also been to a couple of parties at the Albany YMCA on Kains and they did a pretty good job but it is better at the level of Kindergym because it is small. This was a number of years ago but, for that price, I think Anne Marie would tell you how many teachers will be with your kids and you could ask for the activities you want. They played lots of fun games (very active).  Barbara

Re: Head Over Heels
We went to a party there for 6 yr olds and I really didn't like it, nor did many of the kids. The teachers were TOO involved--tried to make it like a gymnastics class, rather than a birthday party. All structured activities and no time to just play around on the equipment (supervised of course). We've had 2 parties at the kids gymnastics place on Piedmont Ave (can't remember the name but in yellow pages) and liked it much more.  Deborah

We have no experience with Richmond, but we have done the Cal program and Kids in motion, and a neighbor has done the head over heels program. I'll bet kids in motion is your best bet. Both the Cal program and head over heels are located in big, cavernous rooms which can be really great for the energetic, whooping-it-up type but if your child is shyer than most, probably a more intimate atmosphere might be better. Also the Cal program is staffed by a number of different Cal students and a very jolly no-nonsense older woman -- Tamara, who is great, but a shy child might not respond to her that well. Good luck.