Why Is Gymnastics So Expensive?

Gymnastics is one the most expensive sports to take part in mainly due to the high overheads, insurance equipment and coaching costs that have to be covered by gym owners. In this article, we will be diving into the cause of the high prices, what you can expect if you have a child start gymnastics and alternative options if the prices are too expensive for your family.

Let’s get started!

paying for gymnastics

Table of Contents

Why is running a gym expensive?

The main factor that drives up the cost of gymnastics is the running costs associated with owning a gym facility. This is a sport that needs a lot of indoor space, specialist equipment and qualified coaches. Compare this with outdoor sports such as soccer and basketball which can be run with a simple outdoor space, minimal equipment and a lot less cost at a recreational level.

In addition to the basic overheads already mentioned, a gym facility will need to pay for:

  • Coach wages and taxes
  • Insurance
  • Equipment repairs and maintenance
  • Membership software / Point of Sale
  • Cleaning
  • Coach education
  • Marketing
  • Legal costs such as accountants

Some facilities will also be paying back the finance needed to build and open, which will add an additional overhead for a gymnastics club.

Just like any other business, all of these costs will affect the prices that gyms charge people to take part in classes. Different gyms in different areas will always mean some variation in prices charged, but they will all be trying to cover the same types of costs.

Running costs breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of how our running costs are spread at the gym I co-founded.

Item% of overall spend
Coaches / Staff67%
Venue Rent16%
Insurance6%
Office / Admin 5%
Maintenance2%
New Equipment2%
Legal 1%
Marketing1%

How much does being a gymnast cost?

What can you expect to pay if your child wants to start gymnastics?

As with all the costs mentioned, there will be variations depending on location and facility. Therefore all figures are purely given as a guide and you should take your time to research specific facilities that you are interested in joining.

Gymnastics Class costs

Class costs make up the bulk of any outlay for gymnastics and good coaching will cost more. Sure, some gyms will charge a premium for bang-average coaching but as a new starter, it will be difficult to tell whether your child’s coach is the real deal or not.

Let us start with recreational / beginner-level class costs. At this level gymnastics is more of a hobby and the gymnast will probably not compete other than in-house events. Classes will typically be for 50 – 60 minutes per week.

Complete Gymnastics researched prices across 20 gym facilities in the US and found:

  • The average cost of recreational gymnastics was $96 per month per child
  • The lowest-priced gym was $60 per month for a place
  • The most expensive was almost $300 per month (for a 55-minute class once a week)

Some facilities will offer sibling discounts or multi-class discounts but the research above focused on the cost of a single child with no special offers so that we could make a fair comparison.

Competitive Team gymnastics can get pricey. Fees will also depend on how many hours the gymnast is training per week

More training hours = more money!

If your gymnast makes the Team program you can expect to be charged anywhere between $200 and $500 per month for training.

Gymnastics annual membership (joining fees)

Most gyms will ask for an annual membership or joining fee before you can enroll in a class.

This can cost anywhere between $50 – $150 per gymnast.

Usually, this charge will cover insurance costs for an individual plus affiliation to a regional or national governing body. Some facilities will do this at cost, whilst others will markup the charge and use it to make a few extra bucks.

Family discounts are available at many gyms, for example, additional siblings will be charged less or maybe one charge will cover all members of the same family. These types of offers are at the discretion of each individual gym so do your own local research before deciding which facility to join.

Leotards and kit costs

In addition to class costs, gymnasts will need to pay for leotards to train in as well as a leotard to compete in. Many gyms will have specific leotards that they sell and gymnasts will be required to purchase them through the club. Often the designs are unique to the club and mean that the gymnasts are easily identifiable.

Training leotards typically cost $50 upwards.

The cost of a competition leotard will depend on the gym facility, but a decent competition leotard will be more expensive than a basic training one. Recreational gymnasts will probably only need a training leotard and won’t be expected to purchase a competition version.

Leotards won’t be the only piece of kit needed… most gyms will expect your child to be kitted out in full club merchandise including t-shirts, tracksuits and holdall. A conservative estimate would put you at least $200-$300 out of pocket just with kit costs

Gymnastics competition costs

Not all gymnasts will go down the competitive (team) route, but for those that are selected, there will be a whole new set of costs associated with competing. This will include:

  • Event entry fees
  • Travel costs
  • Contributing to coaching / staffing costs
  • Spectator entrance fees

Younger competitive gymnasts will usually start out competing locally or regionally which will have less of a cost but as gymnasts move up levels and age groups they may find themselves traveling all over the country and even abroad to compete. USAG competition fees will usually range from $40 – $100.

Once your gymnast is entered into an event, you will also be charged to go and watch them perform. Prices are driven up by the costs associated with hiring a venue, getting the right equipment in, having staff coordinate the event and having the correct insurances in place. The competition organizers will also be having to pay out for Judges, cleaning and having medical staff on standby so they have a lot of costs to cover.

It’s worth noting that even Olympic Team gymnasts are unpaid and only receive travel expenses to the greatest event of them all!

Comparisons of gymnastics costs v other sports

Now that we’ve established why gymnastics is so expensive, what comparisons can we draw on?

Other kids sports

The table below includes all costs associated with taking part at a recreational level including tuition, memberships, travel and equipment. Figures are sourced from the Aspen Institute Survey.

Sport (Recreational Level)Average Annual Cost (Per Child)
Ice Hockey$2,600
Skiing / Snowboarding$2,250
Gymnastics$1,600
Swimming$785
Baseball$660
Soccer$535
Football$485
Basketball$425

Gymnastics ranks as the third most expensive sport per child in the US. The two sports which ranked higher also require a lot of equipment or facilities to take part.

Gymnastics costs country v country

Complete Gymnastics researched the prices of over 50 gym facilities across 4 countries to compare the cost of recreational gymnastics.

CountryAverage Price Per Month (USD)
USA$96
Canada$82
Australia$62
UK$45
All costs converted to USD. Conversion rates correct at time of publication.

The sample size gives a good idea of average costs in each country, though it should be noted that not every single gym in each country has been researched (yet!).

We focused just on recreational classes and the tuition cost of each club. As mentioned earlier, there will be other costs that vary from club to club such as memberships or sibling discounts.

You should also take into account the type and size of facilities in each country. In the UK, a significant number of clubs are not in dedicated or purpose-built gyms. Instead, they operate out of shared spaces in leisure centers or church halls. These types of clubs are great for beginners but would never be able to train world-class gymnasts because of the lack of facilities. The advantage however is that they can provide great low-cost recreational classes.

In the US, Canada and Australia, the higher prices are partly reflected in the more advanced facilities (generally speaking) and the fact that many clubs operate as full-time businesses. The added overheads of full-time staff and utility bills inevitably drive up the cost of classes.

Alternative payment options for gymnastics

What can you do if you have a child that is desperate to try gymnastics but you are worried about finding the cash? Let’s have a look at some options that might work for you.

Community / non-profits / charitable clubs

There are plenty of clubs whose aim is to make the sport accessible to as many families as possible.

For example, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) provides excellent gymnastics provision at an affordable rate across the country. Membership can cost as little as $50 per month for a recreational gymnastics class. Visit YMCA.net for more information.

Payment plans

Have you asked about spreading the cost of kit, uniform or competition costs? Many facilities will help you put a payment plan in place so that you can spread the cost. Even if your club doesn’t advertise payment plans it’s still worth checking whether it’s an option.

Scholarships

Becoming a college gymnast is a dream for so many gymnasts but getting a scholarship is restricted only to those working at an elite level. The truth is that unless you are working at those higher levels in your mid-teens, a college scholarship will be very unlikely. To be anywhere near the level required for consideration, the parents will have already paid up thousands of dollars in fees. So if you are just starting out, a college scholarship won’t be for you.

Final thoughts

There’s no denying gymnastics is an expensive sport but this is mainly down to the high costs of providing a suitable facility and good coaches. If your family is having to decide which sport to pursue, I would always push for gymnastics because, despite the costs, it will provide great all-around development for your child. Even with just a year of recreational gymnastics training a child’s motor skills, balance and coordination will dramatically improve which will also help improve other sports later down the line.

Sources

www.marketwatch.com

www.kidsplayusafoundation.org

Aspen Institute

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