Sports Chalet PADI OW Course

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by Brendan93, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Brendan93

    Brendan93 Garibaldi

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    Well, the name's Brendan, I'm a complete newb to diving and have never even done a discovery dive. I turn 15 on the 26th, and one of my good friends has his cert, so I thought I'd start diving as well. Having just come back from the Caribbean, I'm more eager to start this awesome hobby and just yesterday signed up for the Open Water diver course at the local Sports Chalet. I didn't even think beforehand to compare different organizations and dive shops, and now my ignorance has me somewhat concerned. Is Sports Chalet an adequate place to get my Open Water cert? Obviously it's a big name, and there are many Instructors that work at multiple stores across the entire chain, but does anyone know of quality control issues, or particularly large class sizes that may be detrimental to my learning process? I've got my "Orientation" tonight, and no real instruction until next weekend (which seems slightly odd to me). Anyways, I was just looking for some background on Sports Chalet's courses, the less-than-enthusiastic employee who signed me up at the Scuba area has me slightly worried.

    Thanks,

    Brendan
     
  2. pussiinstructor

    pussiinstructor Garibaldi

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    dont go to sport chalet you wont get quality training and they just try to sell you gear, go to a mom and pop shop where they care about you and your diving experience
     
  3. Puffer Fish

    Puffer Fish Captain Happy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Knoxville, TN
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    The quality of the instruction you get is first and for most about you...how hard you are willing to work... how much do you care. After that it is the instructor and what they teach. Don't know the specific instructor, so cannot comment on that specifically, but in general, yes. I know good divers from every agency.. and almost every type and size of class.
     
  4. Puffer Fish

    Puffer Fish Captain Happy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Knoxville, TN
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    pusslinstructor - understand your point of view, but unless you know specifics... that is not much help for Branden93.
     
    Whitewatermike likes this.
  5. DiveNav

    DiveNav ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern California
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    Brendan,
    first and foremost ... WELCOME to this beautiful sport ;)

    I got my OW, long time, at SC, then my DM via a Private Instructor and did my IDC (prep to become Instructor) with a "Mom and Pa" shop (Local Dive Store).

    I have found good - and few not soo good - Instructors across the board.
    As Puffer-Fish said earlier, what really counts is Your attitude toward learning.

    From Your post above, it seems to me that You will be fine and will become a very good diver. Just don't rush it.

    Last but not least, in case You do not know it already, You can now virtually dive online some of the local Southern California dive sites (including the popular Casino Point at Avalon - Catalina) using our free dive simulator available here --> www.ediving.us

    Regards,

    Alberto
    online eDiving service
     
  6. livewire

    livewire Photographer

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    I'll defend Sport Chalet here also. I've met, worked with, and been out diving with various instructors over the years, including several from Sport Chalet. I don't think you can say generically that Sport Chalet sucks, or that Mom and Pop store X is better. When it comes to instruction, whether your course is good or not really depends on individual instructor.

    As far as quality control, PADI is the organization that sets the guidelines, and Sport Chalet is a PADI 5 Star Dive Center (their highest rating), which means they've met certain quality checks and requirements that PADI has set for quality of instruction, safety of students, etc. I can also tell you the Sport Chalet does provide some nice perks for instructors in hopes that they will attract and retain good instructors (covering instructor's insurance, discounts on gear, etc). But really I think you'll know if you're going to like your instructor or not soon after you meet them, and that's what counts. I wouldn't sweat the employee that signed you up... I've had that experience at Sport Chalet, too. Fortunately, they're not the ones teaching the course. :)

    Hope this helps!
     
  7. Brendan93

    Brendan93 Garibaldi

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    Thanks for the responses. I just got back from the Orientation which went okay. The Instructor seems fine, he talked to us about how the course works and then showed us some equipment out on the floor. My next question, which I guess was partially addressed, but should I purchase my basic gear (snorkel, mask, fins, boots, etc.) from Sports Chalet or should I head over to a real dive shop and look at their selection? I didn't find a ton to choose from at Sports Chalet, but I can't tell if that's the norm or not because I'm a newb to the entire diving world. Diving will be awesome, I'm very excited.

    Brendan
     
  8. livewire

    livewire Photographer

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    Glad to hear it went well. :)

    I think snorkeling gear is fine to get there (mask, snorkel, boots, fins, gloves), since it's the same stuff you're going to find pretty much everywhere, even buying a tank there is fine, but BC, regulator, and even weights seem to be more expensive there, don't know why. I think they're carrying a Body Glove wetsuit that's somewhat reasonably priced ($280 I think?) but the ONeill one is like wicked expensive.

    Oh speaking of snorkels, SC does carry the AquaLung Impulse which is, in my opinion, one of the best snorkels ever manufactured. The hard core free divers would probably disagree, but for a new scuba diver in So. Cal, this thing is worth every penny.

    Best of luck!
     
  9. Brendan93

    Brendan93 Garibaldi

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    Thanks Santiago, I'll look into that snorkel.
     
  10. Teamcasa

    Teamcasa Sr. Moderator Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Near Pasadena, CA
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    Sport Chalet has some very good instructors.
    They also have some quality gear and they have some inexpensive stuff as well. A note about masks, get one that fits, forget about price or brand name, try it out before you settle on one. Nothing will ruin your dive experience quicker than a leaky mask.
     
  11. Ann Marie

    Ann Marie be happy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California
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    Hi Brendan! :admingreet: Welcome to ScubaBoard.

    I happen to be an instructor at Sport Chalet, though not in LA. Pussiinstructor is incorrect. We do have some excellent instructors that run a quality course and we are not into pushing students into gear that they don't want.

    There is somewhere around 500 or so professionals that work for Sport Chalet, including Dive Masters, Assistant Instructors, and Instructors. With a number that large you are going to find some great instructors and some that should probably not be teaching.

    I will tell you that when you decide to purchase gear, purchase the gear that fits you best where ever that may be. If you purchase the gear at Sport Chalet, on most of the gear you'll get 10% off for being a student. If you buy your mask, fins and snorkel all at the same time, you may be able to save 15%. Another nice thing about buying your gear there is that if you get into the pool and find that you don't like your mask or it leaks you can exchange it, not a problem. Just make sure you keep the packaging and the receipt.

    Unfortunately, like the Professional Staff there are good sales associates and sales associates that shouldn't be working there. Hopefully, next time you go in you'll get to talk with one that is more helpful.

    Talk with your Instructor, tell him about your concerns. Ask him questions like how long has he been teaching and diving. Does he like teaching and why does he do it?

    I hope that this helps. If you have any questions feel free to send me a Private Message and we can talk more. :D
     
  12. kfordham

    kfordham Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Lakewood, CA
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    from what I've heard it's not really the instructor's that are the issue... it's the open water dives. It's kind of a meat grinder type thing where they sit you down and get you to your location. Take you out and bring you back in.

    Although really you get what you pay for and what you want to get out of it. SC is probably a pretty good dive program if you really just want to get your certification asap. Where as other stores might be significantly more expensive, but as a result you might go to better dive spots on your certification dives and have much smaller ammounts of people in your group, which means you can get more dives in a day.

    So Im not going to say SC is bs. In fact I took a free introduction to scuba class at sport chalet and I found my instructor to be very informative. But at the same time, SC is a corporate business and while they'll cover all the safety aspects and general maintnance procedures, I don't think they'll dive into it as much as a mom and pop store might. But it all falls on your instructor and what they want for you to get out of it. Either way, you should have fun, I hope, and you'll be diving in no time.

    Hopefully. :)
     
  13. B.L. Justice

    B.L. Justice Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: So Cal
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    I have been OW cert'd since 98 and decided to get AOW this year while on vacation. I got my OW cert through my LDS after a SC salesman didn't have the time of day for me. That was in 1998. My LDS greeted me with open arms and I ended up with an adequate education. Like someone said, it really is what you bring to the class that makes the class work. Unfortunately, the shop sold me lots of expensive stuff that I didn't really need. Ten years later I have replaced much of the gear with stuff that is easier, lighter or higher quality. No slam on the salesman, I didn't do my homework.

    Now I am doing my AOW at SC because my LDS didn't have a schedule that would fit my needs and SC had some smoke'n deals on training. The instructors have been great and they haven't tried to sell me a single piece of gear. They also haven't turned up their nose as I wear my gear that has my LDS logo all over it. They have been professional, encouraging, educational and have helped me fine tune or eliminate some bad habits. It looks like things have changed at SC.

    Just remember that you are the customer. You are buying training that will keep you safe and may save your or someone else's life. If you are not happy with the quality of training or you need more attention, don't be silent, get help and get good value regardless of where you go.
     
  14. Jim Ernst

    Jim Ernst Scuba Instructor

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    Location: Sacramento CA
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    I am sorry but I very much disagree with you....

    It boils down to the fact that it is not Sports chalet being big or small..........

    It is all about the Instructor and student !

    I was an Instructor for them for a short time while we had to many Instructors at my LDS... I no longer teach for them (Sports Chalet) But I will say that they do have some great Instructors there that teach a very quality class.

    I think Ann Marie said it all very well!

    Sports Chalet being a big corporation does NOT mean that you will not get a great Instructor!!

    For the short time I was there I taught many students.... I guarantee all of my students got very quality training ... I made sure of it, And gave any extra time they might have needed.

    I hope you see where I am coming from, I feel talking to and getting a feel for the Instructor is the most important part of it all... Not what store it comes from... I hope that all makes sense to you!
     
  15. drunkdiver

    drunkdiver Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: California
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    Brendan,

    I would like to first of all defend Sport Chalet, I have done 9 courses with them and have been very impressed with the instruction. I do have to admit that I have been with the same instructor in every class, but she brought in other instructors to help and they were all great. I recently had my 12 year old son certified through Sport Chalet, so I can't offer a better recommendation.

    I have met some instructors and scuba professionals that should not be teaching, I think PADI's requirements for instructors are a little low and multiple instructors should be required to sign off on a new instructor before they are allowed to teach new divers.

    I did get a little off course, but talk one on one to your instructor and if you do not feel comfortable with them request a change.

    Brendan, welcome to the wonderful world of scuba!
     

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