A comment on culture

This weekend we held our annual gymnastics meet here at Gymfinity. We had 450 gymnasts and we ran it over 25 hours in 2 days. It is a monumental task and the planning for next year started today. We have the same two goals every year: 1. to host a great event where everyone is happy; the kids feel like stars, the coaches feel like we care for them, the judges should be acknowledged for their work and the parents should actually enjoy watching the meet and 2. Make the next year’s meet even better.  We achieved number 1 for sure this year.

13 years ago we started Gymfinity with a small band of parents who mostly migrated from other programs because they weren’t getting their or their gymnast’s needs met there. They had no allegiance to Gymfinity; it was just the next “new kid” on the block. We had organization meetings, parent’s forums, one on one’s and terribly long phone calls and even longer “answer sessions” (what I called it when I felt I had to answer a complaining parents “concerns”). It was a tough road to hoe.

We’ve come a long way. My biggest epiphany this weekend was watching a former Gymfinity kid who is now at another gym. She did very well and had a great meet. I saw her mom in the lobby and said hello, I believe that she deserves my respect even though they left Gymfinity for what she saw as a greener pasture, and there are no hard feelings. Though she seemed kind of gloaty, like an air of “I told you so” was around her since her daughter was doing well.  That’s cool, everyone has their own vibe. So why did she leave anyway? Well the fact is she didn’t fit in to our culture and at Gymfinity the culture of learning through progress and the value of internal success (as opposed to someone else telling you that you are successful) were not conducive to how she wanted her daughter trained. I will take a good child, open to learn, willing to see hard work as a necessity, embracing it and understanding that a failure is an opportunity to improve over a kid with good gymnastics any day.  Now don’t misunderstand me, our kids are amazing gymnasts, but at the risk of being contrary to why some parents have their kids here, the gymnastics is second in importance to the character.

Observation number 2: I have long stated that a kid’s number one motivation is to please their parents. You can argue that point eternally but the fact is that we all live our lives just trying to make mom and dad proud. It is so important that our children see that we are proud of them, it affirms their efforts. One of the best ways to show a kid that type of pride is to take an interest in their interests. Be interested in their school, their school teams, their classes and their extra-curricular, like gymnastics. Being a part of their world shows them that you care about what they do and how they do it. This weekend I cannot even write all of the amazing things I saw from our parents. There were moms and dads here at 7AM each day. They cleaned, they worked and they cheered. Parents do the lion share of work at a meet, from taking admission to stocking the bathrooms, from selling concessions to keeping score, from decorating the gym to cleaning it all up; they do everything. As I mentioned the meet started months ago with finding sponsors, organizing hotels, trophies, and arranging for food and hospitality. Parents did all that. And another thing let me tell you that our parents, all from different backgrounds and industries, provided better customer service for our visiting families than most people in the real customer service industry. We have 3 parents who are physical therapists and they provided coaches and judges with chair massages during a break, who else does that? We do. We had a judge forget a book at a hotel so one of our parents went to pick it up. Who else would do that? We would.  We had 4 parents work until midnight Sunday taking back bleachers and meet gear to the storage garage. No complaints, no asking for special consideration. Who else would be like that? We would.

Every year I say how I cannot express my gratitude to them and how I have trouble finding words to say “thank you.” This year is the same. For what they did and how they worked there is no proportional way for me to say it. But their children say it. Not verbally, but you better believe that they noticed what their moms and dads did. And they are proud of them right back.

I was talking with a few judges in their break room, and we were talking about how they noticed so many of the parents that had been working all day…both days! I told them that we at Gymfinity are so fortunate to have such great parents and the satisfaction that every judge, gymnast and parent feels at our meet comes from the fact that our families are great people. The judge smiled at me and said how refreshing it was to hear a coach talking positively about their parents for once. It didn’t hit me until later, but that epitomizes Gymfinity’s culture: that is why the moms who are wound too tight don’t fit, that is why the parents who seek validation for themselves through their children (rather than the other way around) don’t fit here. It’s a culture of great people gathered around a great belief that our children, win or lose, are beautiful and amazing and we love to be a part of their lives. That appreciation and gratitude is our culture and it’s why, regardless of the trophies and medals, we win every time.

So thank you moms and dads; thank you for the 25 hours plus that you gave Gymfinity and in turn gave your children. Thank you for the hard work, the heavy lifting and the dealing with my jokes. I want to tell you that often your work may have felt unnoticed, but the truth is that we did notice. Our visiting kids, parents and judges complimented us on how great the meet was and that is all you. We noticed. But more importantly OUR kids noticed and it may not be verbal, but they say “thanks.” And I give thanks too. Thank you for being a part of our gym, our team and our family. Thank you for being great parents, thank you for being Gymfinity parents.


  1. becomingcliche on November 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    What an awesome statement for your gym that the ones who are too uptight don’t fit in. That’s the kind of environment that a family can thrive in. Overly competitive parents annoy me.

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