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how to navigate competing as an adult gymnast

your one-stop guide to competing in gymnastics past your childhood years

Say what? Adult gymnasts can compete? Oh yeah they can! We are anyone 18+ who still loves the support. There are some of us represented in every decade 20s-90s. And yes, many of us still compete!

If you are an adult gymnast, it can be difficult to figure out how you are able to find and enter competitions. This one-stop guide will show you how to jump right into this fun and exciting world! 

adult gymnastics competitionCompeting in adult gymnastics is incredibly fun and rewarding. Learn how to join in here!


competing adult gymnastics2019 AAU Nationals: Ladies Division competitors in Orlando, FL

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs.

Pros: Costs are lower than you'll see in many other gymnastics leagues. Your club doesn't need to be an AAU member. And most meets don't even require you to have your own coach! Simply let the coaches at the meet know you are an athlete there alone and they are usually happy to help you set your springboard, the bars, etc. You can train at adult classes or open gyms as fits your schedule and just show up for the meets.

Cons: Some areas of the U.S. don't have many meets happening. Other than at Nationals, there are not often a large number of adults to compete against (although the more of us who enter, the better - and it's getting better each and every year in terms of participation). There is typically a winter nationals and a summer nationals held each year. The sites vary from year to year across the United States, but are frequently held in the Southeast or the Midwest.

how to join

Step 1:  Become a member. Memberships run Sept. 1 thru August 31 of each calander year. You can purchase one- or two-year memberships. The AAU Adult Athlete Membership is $24 for a year. If you have a coach you will want on the floor, he/she will need to become a Non-Athlete Member. The Non-Athlete is $16. Become a member today.

Step 2: Figure out what level you will compete. Reference the AAU Gymnastics Handbook to get a sense of what fits. Levels are the same as USAG. The only exception is that you can use air-o-board for any Xcel level with no deduction. In addition, there is no time limit on floor or beam. Otherwise, the rules are exactly the same at the national level. There may be a few districts that have modifications to the rules such as those in Florida and Georgia. These changes should be available online if you search "Florida AAU Gymnastics rules" for example. They may change from year to year.

You will compete in the "Ladies Division." Spandex shorts or leggings are allowed to be worn in meets. Many meets only offer XCel levels for the Ladies Division. XCel levels are all optional, meaning that you create your own routine within the rules. It's OK if you don't quite meet the requirements - in that case, your score will just start from less than 10.0 on that event. You won't be alone - many gymnasts have an event or two that start below a 10.0. Don't worry!

Step 3: Find events in which to compete. You will have to send in your intent to compete and the fees typically at least 2 months in advance. Ladies Division athletes don't have to pre-qualify to any meets. Find an event here (ask to be sure the event includes the Ladies Division before signing up!)

Have you heard about our Adult Gymnastics Camp?


adult gymnastics meetsThe Alumni Community Team wins the WAG developmental division at the 2019 NAIGC Nationals.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs (NAIGC) is an organization set forth to provide further gymnastics opportunities for college aged and adult gymnasts. The NAIGC is a great place for male and female gymnasts with any level of experience - ranging from absolutely none to training elite! The main goal of the NAIGC is to provide a fun environment for gymnasts to continue/start their gymnastics careers.

There are a handful of meets in October and November, but most meets occur January - March. People can participate as individuals or as a part of a club. The season culminates with a National Championship meet in April. With exception of a few competitions, the NAIGC is co-ed. Most NAIGC clubs will not have tryouts and everyone will make the club team. Most clubs have semester or annual membership fees.

Pros: There are college-affiliated club teams all over the country and you don't have to be a student to compete. The meet fees with NAIGC are lower than with most organizations. There are also a number of community adult clubs for which you can compete as an individual even if you train alone. Many NAIGC meets have the option for “decathlon” which means you compete both men’s and women’s events if you like. There are also trampoline and tumbling competitions now at NAIGC nationals! You can enter as a new flyer, intermediate flyer, or high flyer.

Cons: There is a bit more limitation in the way of which levels you may choose when compared to other leagues. For women the options are Xcel Silver, Xcel Platinum, Level 8 and Level 9. For men you may choose from Modified Level 7, Modified Level 9 or Modified NCAA. However, even if you choose a level "too hard" for you, you may simply compete as much as you can (forward rolls as a "tumbling pass" happens sometimes) and just accept that you'll have lower start values. Many do, and it's a low-pressure, fun environment. To compete in Nationals you have to be an NAIGC member which is about $30/year and comes with a membership gift along with the Nationals meet fee which covers your competition and includes a meet t-shirt. Note: Men have their own levels and rules. Not all NAIGC clubs accept all ages - some require that you be enrolled in the college to participate. 

Read an NAIGC Nationals Meet Report.

Get more info. about NAIGC on our Routines Construction Guide Page.

how to join

Step 1: A list of clubs appears here: List of NAIGC clubs. You'll see how to join.

Step 2: You can also check out our facebook page: NAIGC Facebook Page or member group NAIGC Member Group as a good way to learn more and connect with NAIGC members. You can also visit the NAIGC FAQ Page.

Step 3: Find an event to compete in.


gymnastics meets for adultsMelody competing on her favorite event at the USAIGC world gymnastics championships.

USAIGC provides an environment that fosters and nurtures the attributes of a sound mind and a sound body leading to successful healthy and well-rounded gymnasts. The competitive program is built on long-term skill development with the intentional slowing down of our gymnast's learning curve providing the necessary time to develop and perfect gymnastic skills in a safe, logical, progressive order without excessive training hours (such as what might be needed in a compulsory entry tract). 

The competitive options prevent gymnast's "frustration" of being stuck in a competitive level:

  • The gymnast's skill level determines their competitive entry level. 
  • Mobility between competitive levels is decided by the coach, not by a score. 
  • Mobility between competitive levels does not have to be in progressive order. 
  • Gymnasts may compete in two consecutive competitive levels (All-Around and/or an Individual Event Specialist) on their next level up.
  • There are five competitive platforms: (a) All Around, (b) Individual Event, (c) Team and (d) Club High School, (e) International. Our International competitions are open to all USAIGC competitive levels.

The USAIGC membership fee is $40/year.

Pros: No coach or club affiliation is needed; just select United States Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs as your club when you register for your membership and you will be able to compete as an independent: Click here to register for your membership. There are TONS of meets to choose from and there are pretty much meets offered every weekend during the season. Click here for the master list. USAIGC is very supportive of adult gymnasts! In many of the meets, you will be introduced to the audience as an adult gymnast and held up as a great example for all the competitors before a competitive session.

Another great Pro is WORLDS! Every year at the end of June-beginning of July, USAIGC hosts a World Championships. Gymnasts from all over the world (USA, Bermuda, Canada, England, India, Mexico, Romania, South Africa & Wales) gather for a week of competition. Meets are usually held in Orlando or Palm Springs (alternating each year). They even have event finals for ALL competitive levels! It's an amazing experience. Adult athletes (16+) are allowed to directly qualify to the World Championships from any meet hosted by USAIGC (not by a local club) making it simple for adults to qualify. Go here for a list of those meets. They also have a Club Directory, making it easy to find a club near you.

Cons: The main concentration of USAIGC clubs and meets are in the NY/NJ area, which might not be convenient for you. Judges need to attend special USAIGC trainings each year in order to be available to judge meets for the organization. This has made it hard for the league to expand into other areas. Meet fees are midrange - cheaper than USAG but more expensive than NAIGC typically. Meet fees aren't listed on the website for most meets so you'd have to contact the host club for that information.

how to join

Step 1: Registration Info

Step 2: Find an event


adult gymnastics competitionsMeghan competes in a USAG meet as an Xcel platinum athlete. Meghan is also an athletic trainer and serves at our Adult Gymnastics NH camp!

Any USAG Developmental Program (DP) level or XCel level offers the opportunity to compete with other athletes of a similar skill level. USAG aims to encourage participation in all aspects of gymnastics, support athletes in their pursuit of competitive excellence and generate public awareness of the sport of gymnastics. Summaries of some of the various levels are listed below.

Age groups tend to vary from meet to meet from state to state.  There is a chance you won't have other competitors in your age group if the meet places you in 18+ (In other words, you may be the only adult competing in the meet). Some meets will place you in an age group where you will have competitors (these age groups are usually a certain age "and up." Example: 13+ or 15+ age groups. If you aren't willing to compete against kids, be sure to find out how the age groups will be split up before you've signed up by asking the meet director.

Here are some links to the rule charts to help you determine which level/division is most appropriate.

XCel overview

DP overview


Pros: There are TONS of meets held all over the United States. You will have your coach on the floor with you since you will be affiliated with a member club. And that coach will be the one to send in the paperwork to register you for your the meets. You won't have to set your own equipment or figure out the steps needed to enter a meet, which is especially helpful if you have never competed before so you aren't as familiar with everything.

Cons: Not every gym will allow an adult to train with the team, either for insurance or for other reasons. It never hurts to ask though! There are not that many adults who compete UASG, so you're typically going to be in a meet with mostly youth athletes (i.e. age 18 and under). Also, the meets tend to be more expensive than with other leagues.

how to join

Step 1:  Search for areas around you that have competitive gymnastics teams.

Step 2:  Call, email or stop in to inquire about the opportunity to train with their team. Usually if there is a possibility, just like with children, you will most likely be asked to "try out" before a commitment is made.

Step 3:  Make sure their practice schedule jives with yours! Many practices occur right after school, which can be tough for adult schedules. Also, be prepared for practice times to change from year to year. Having a flexible work schedule and family life that isn't too demanding makes it more likely that this type of commitment work for you. Once you have worked out with the team for awhile, the odds of them being accomodating to your scheduling needs increase, but especially in the beginning you will be expected to attend to follow you're level's practice schedule in most cases, or at the very least pay the full tuition even if you aren't able to attend all practices. XCel teams are typically more lenient about attendance than DP teams. Situations vary widely among clubs, so always talk about any concerns you may have with the staff before making a commitment.

Step 4: You won't have to find your own meets because the gym will already be taking care of it. Score!

find another non-sanctioned event where you can compete

Besides the leagues listed above, there are also some private gyms who host adult meets from time to time. Those are usually run with a more laid-back vibe - but it can also be harder to find out about them. Visit this page to see a list of leagues that offer adult gymnastics competition opportunities. You can also check out these meets we know are coming up that adults can enter! You can also inquire or search on our Facebook Group Just Like Fine Wine...Adult Gymnastics.

check out our meet directory

You can see a listing of all the adult meets upcoming that we know about here. You can also submit a meet if you don't see it listed!

need a little help from a coach, no matter what league you're looking at?

finding a meet adult gymnasticsTony Retrosi is a huge supporter of the adult gymnastics movement. He was my coach for a long time!

If you are anywhere in the world and need a coach to help you out by being your coach at a meet, contact me about getting help from Tony Retrosi, an international clinician and owner of the club Atlantic Gymnastics where my Adult Gymnastics Camp is held. Tony Retrosi offered to volunteer his time to help adult gymnasts at meets who don't have a coach.

nervous because you've never done an adult gymnastics meet before?

starting competition adult gymnastics

need training tips for preparing for competition?

(so you can be more like aimee)

training tips adult gymnastics competition

Check out our training page for articles on training to reach your best for competition.

need help constructing your routines?

This lovely guide by Danelle Pecht will be a huge help whether you are looking to compete in USAG, NAIGC, USAIGC, or AAU! You can also see some sample routines from various levels here.

looking for floor music?

how to compete adult gymnastThe right floor music can make or break your routine.

Check out our Guide to Shopping for Floor Music. As adult gymnasts you'll be sure to get to pick your own!

what about competition leotards?

Check out the type of leotards (or unitards) that are allowed for competition AND where you can get them in various countries here!

Disclaimer: Adult gymnasts and coaches give advice and suggestions on this page. By reading and implementing the information, you assume all liability for injury. The advice given is for educational purposes only. Please check with your in-person coach and ensure that you have the proper pit, mats and/or spot available before trying any suggestions. If you don't agree to these terms, do not attempt anything that you see on this page.

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