Employment | “We try to keep everything in check” – gymnastics clubs are a significant employer of young people

Järvenpääläinen Jenniina Korjus had a flying start to working life already at the age of thirteen, when he started as an assistant coach at the gymnastics club in his hometown.

Now seven years later, Korjus is one of the active young coaches of Järvenpää Gymnasts. In addition to coaching, he trains and competes successfully in team gymnastics.

Korjus is the captain of the Fenyat Senior team and the reigning champion of the Finnish racing series.

A total of twelve Freyat&Fenyat teams of different age groups operate in Järvenpää, with Hyvinkää Gymnastics and Liikunta as another club. In addition, Järvenpää has 17 own teams.

Hilla Talvenkorpi17, competes with Korjus in the same team and also works as a coach at Järvenpää Gymnasts, which has a total of eight monthly paid and 42 hourly paid coaches.

More than half of the coaches, 60 percent, are under 18 years old. Most of them work as assistant coaches or instructors. Gymnastics clubs are surprisingly the first job for many young people, as in Järvenpää.

“It’s really great that we hire young people and get work experience,” says Talvenkorpi.

At Järvenpää Gymnasts, he is the head coach of the youth amateur group. Korjus, on the other hand, coaches the competition group for 14–16-year-olds.

“Coaching is a nice addition to everyday life. This was my first job for a long time,” says Korjus, who works full-time in a kindergarten.

“At first, it seemed strange to get money for coaching, even though I didn’t jump into a new sport.”

For everyone an assistant coach or coach is given a training path in the club. Everyone attends at least one training in the first fall.

The purpose is that the young people would grow up to become responsible instructors, even if some continue to study in another location.

Recruiting and training young people does not completely solve the instructor shortage, but it does help.

“I consider it a matter of honor that the first jobs become good experiences. That’s why it’s important to take care of them,” the club’s executive director Tarja Mahkonen tells.

According to him, everyone who wants to can get a job as a coach. Trained instructors raise the level of the club and maintain the value of community.

“We try to keep everything under control. In training, we follow the general instructions of the Gymnastics Association”, says Mahkonen.

Järvenpää In gymnasts, young people also get paid for coaching. It is a common practice and a small lure in many other gymnastics clubs in Southern Finland.

In Järvenpää, an assistant instructor gets six euros per hour. After that, the salary rises to eight euros and, as experience accumulates, up to 25 euros per hour.

“At first it seemed funny to get money for coaching, even though I didn’t jump into a new sport,” says Korjus.

“There is a big difference in salaries. Education and experience make a difference. We strive to ensure that there are not many instructors with a ten-euro charge, because that also tells about the level of education,” says Mahkonen.

Locally, Järvenpää’s Gymnasts are a big club. It has approximately 1,300 members, who run the club’s rather large budget of 750,000–800,000 euros with their membership and hobby fees.

The gymnastics club receives very little support from the city of Järvenpää

The hobby fee is about one hundred euros per season. The first season lasts from autumn to Christmas and the second from January to mid-May.

With the money, you get supervised training once a week, which can be team gymnastics, dance, trick lessons or family exercise.

In total, the club offers more than 50 different hobby classes for young people under the age of 16. Group exercise is organized for adults and adults.

“The education system has been a gem in which we have been pioneers.”

In competition groups the price is already rising significantly. A six-hour weekly workout costs 90 euros per month. The fee includes the coach’s fee and license training, training facilities and refereeing.

In total, Järvenpää Gymnasts have around 300 competing team gymnasts. On the hobby side, there are also trapeze gymnasts, but there is no equipment for that in the club’s own hall.

The Unelmahalli, owned by the society, was completed largely with the help of donations and volunteers in 2022. The construction of our own hall resulted from an almost forced situation, when Järvenpää was in dire need of gym shifts and exercise facilities.

In addition to the large gymnasium, Unelmahalli has a ball hall, which the club rents to the school.

Gymnastics Federation executive director Maria Laakso says that gymnastics clubs have been the first employer of many young women.

Clubs can buy a training license from the sports association, which allows them to train their coaches in their own gyms.

A start-level license costs about 700 euros, but the first level already costs about 10,000 euros. The license has different prices for clubs of different sizes, and it is the same price regardless of whether there is one or 50 people to be trained.

Clubs can also share the license fee among themselves. The training license works in team gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and women’s balance beam gymnastics.

“The education system has been a gem in which we have been pioneers. The purpose is that the club is a learning environment where more experienced people mentor others. It helps and moves everyone forward,” says Laakso.

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