Our Gym’s Culture Was Toxic. Here’s Exactly How We Fixed It.

I think today’s podcast is really, really going to help the gymnastics community. For the first time ever, my amazing boss Eva Shute (who runs our gymnastics entire gymnast program) and I sit down to share the exact steps we took to make our gym a better place. Everything from working with gymnasts who have bad attitudes during training, to handling parents, to making systems for a move up requirements, and more.

When I first joined the gym I currently a coach at in 2012, we had some serious cultural issues. And my ego was one of the biggest reasons. Overall, the coaches were super unhappy at work. Gymnasts weren’t getting new skills or moving up in levels. Motivation levels were really low. Parents were constantly complaining. There was an insanely high rate of injuries and burnout. And, we definitely were using some training techniques that were not safe or in line with the latest research.

I’ve been extremely grateful to have an amazing boss, Eva Shute, who along with many other fantastic people in our community (coaches, parents, gymnasts) helped change this. It has been a long, challenging road over the last 8 years to get to where we are now.

I can’t tell you how many mistakes we make, lessons we learned, and long meetings we had to help get real, meaningful change. By no means do I think we are perfect, and we have a long road to go for helping our culture continue to improve. We are always facing issues as they come up, and looking for ways to improve.

But, I can honestly say that we have coaches, parents, and gymnasts that are much happier at our facility. Our injury and burnout rate has plummeted over the last 8 years. Most importantly, we have found a way to maximize the gymnast’s enjoyment with their careers and make progress on a performance level to whatever their goal is. We have some gymnasts that just want recreational level involvement, others that want some gymnastics but also want to do other sports and focus on school, and some who really are striving for collegiate-level competition.

In this episode, we share the step by step “in the trenches” advice for other people trying to do the same. We discuss

  • The different stages of growth we have been through
  • How we deal with unmotivated gymnasts or those whose behavior is disrespectful at practice
  • How we handle parents with concerns about move ups, meets, and changing policies
  • How Eva supported our staff of coaches, while at the same time holding them accountable for our rules and policies
  • The best things we did from a personal development standpoint to become better leaders
  • The systems we built to handle injuries, move-ups, and competition eligibility
  • How we changed our strength, flexibility, and skill development approaches in training
  • How to raise concerns for needed change in a professional manner
  • What to do if people in your gym refuse to change
  • The steps we feel every coach needs to be happier and more engaged at work

You can listen below, or watch on YouTube, by clicking below. PLEASE do me a huge favor and share this in your gymnastics community, as many of us are all facing the same common issues.

Our Gym’s Culture Was Toxic. Here’s Exactly How We Fixed It.

Hope you find it helpful!

– Dave

Dr. Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS
CEO/Founder of SHIFT Movement Science