In May of 2023, my wife and I were interested in having our four year-old join a beginner gymnastics program in Vacaville. We tried Dream Xtreme. Here’s how it went, but I must preface this with… neither my wife, my daughter nor I had ANY experience in gymnastics before this.
Note: There are a variety of gymnastics programs available in Vacaville for all levels and Dream Xtreme is not the only provider of gymnastics education.
Choosing a Gymnastics Place
A quick search of the internet found Vacaville had more than one place we could take our four year-old for gymnastics lessons. We were mostly looking for something to keep her socially engaged during the summer months.
We definitely weren’t (and still aren’t) picturing Olympic gold medals in our child’s future.
We chose Dream Xtreme. Mostly because they offered flexible one-hour classes at a reasonable price. It was $88 per month to have our daughter in a program and that came with one (1-hour) class per week.
We enrolled online. There’s limited availability in the classes and we apparently got the last open spot at the time.
The First Gymnastics Lesson
We bought a leotard (it turns out Target sells them) and showed up for the 11:00 AM class on Tuesday morning. My daughter was one of five girls in the class that day. I’m told there’s usually a boy in the class but he was absent that day.
I’ll remind you my daughter had absolutely no experience in gymnastics. After all, she’s four! I don’t know how many sessions the other girls in the class had under their belts, but it was nobody else’s first day.
The instructor introduced himself to us. Nice guy. The classroom for the little kids is a walled off area near the front of the business which is a giant warehouse. Parents have to stay outside of the classroom, but there are windows for viewing.
The session began with a fun warm-up and I was happy to see my daughter jump right in (she can be a little anti-social). She really liked the warm-up. It’s ten minutes of running in circles, touching your toes and other kid-style calisthenics to music (think “Baby Shark”).
After the warm-up came the surprising part.
The coach set up a gymnastics circuit for the kids. While he took some time to explain each station to my daughter, it wasn’t much. They got right into it and the other girls seemed to know exactly what to do.
My daughter tried to do a somersault. She needed some help from the coach.
I figured there was no way she’d do the handstand exercise. This involved the child placing their hands on the ground and walking up a wall with their feet until they’re in the hand stand position. To my surprise, she did pretty well. Although the coach kept trying to get her to go higher.
Next was the balance beam. My daughter was a little nervous. The coach tried holding the back of her leotard for assistance but she wasn’t having that. She kept grabbing for his hand, but eventually traversed the (foot-high) beam.
This was funny. After every half-completed exercise, my daughter threw her hands in the air and yelled “I did it!” Even when she really hadn’t.
I couldn’t believe this, but the next station was some upside down hanging moves from a bar. Seriously, it was my four year-old’s first day and there was no way she was going to do this.
And…. she didn’t. She chickened out. But I figured that had to be pretty normal for a kid’s first day.
The exercises continued and I was surprised both at how much the coach had my daughter doing on her first day AND how well the other kids were at doing it all. You’d think my kid stumbled into a varsity gymnastics lesson on her first day.
The hour seemed to fly by. Once the coach had to ask my wife and I step away from the window for a few minutes because our daughter kept looking at us and wasn’t paying attention to the instructions (I can vouch this was accurate. She wasn’t).
At the end of the session, the coach had a chat with us about how it went. I saw the entire thing and was pretty proud at how well my (anti-social) daughter participated. The coach said that a few times my daughter told him “no” when he tried to help her through a movement. I chuckled.
My wife said “Yeah, she doesn’t really like going upside down.” The coach laughed and said she would have to get over that because “she’s in gymnastics now.”
He gave us a few tips on things she could work on at home before her next lesson. He said that, given it was her first day, she “did ok.” Proud Dad was admittedly a little triggered by this. I think she rocked her first day. But I’m biased.
My daughter seemed happy with how it went. She says she wants to go back. I still don’t see any gold medals in her future, but was incredibly proud of how well she interacted with the other kids in the class and (despite the coach’s opinion) how well she did with the instructions.
As for Dream Xtreme in Vacaville, I don’t have much to compare it with. The entire facility is huge, but the four year-old class was limited to just the “little kid” area.
They sell merchandise. Had I known, I would have supported the local business rather than buying my daughter’s leotard at Target.
The staff was friendly. I personally think the coach might take the four year-old class a little on the serious side. But also… the rest of the kids in the class were doing all the exercises really well. I can only assume that’s the result of good instruction and repetition.
When I have an update, I’ll link to it here.
Update #1: Four Weeks In
Our daughter has attended four weekly gymnastics classes and is sticking with it so far. She’s by no means a natural, but the lessons have got her more comfortable with her coach, the other kids in the classes and the exercises.
She was really nervous being upside down. That’s gotten better. Her balance has improved as well and the gymnastics exercises that were scary for her the first day are coming more naturally. It’s been a blast watching her improve and gain confidence each week.