It takes all of me to just not admit the real reason for coming in for a trial class at our locally-owned franchise for The Little Gym, which boasts a class structure upon ‘three-dimensional learning.’ Hey, I’m all for social skills and learning to follow instructions for young children but my main goal for bringing my 19-month-old in is to tire him out. The rest of the benefits of a structured activity are just happenstance.
As a mother of a child who can’t sit still, I tried it all: same-age play dates, twice-daily playground trips, and the horrific story time fails (yes, plural). One thing missing was that either one was missing another important goal I wanted for my child. Play dates are impersonal, playgrounds are lonely, and story time is story time. I gave up and thought it was completely up to me to be a toddler’s BFF and deal with the weariness of chasing a spirited toddler across the yard while six months pregnant.
Searching for a solution that we knew inevitably would cost money, I schedule our first trial class at The Little Gym. It cost nothing and have a chance to go over pricing because, you know, it’s going to be spendy when the website doesn’t have a price list. I take the chance and I schedule online to get a confirmation email. To my surprise, I receive a confirmation call the same evening. The night prior comes a follow-follow-up call and then a follow-follow up email. They really want to make sure we’re going, I get it.
Tucked away in a plainly-marked business plaza behind Round Table Pizza, it can be spotted with its bright green walls from the parking lot. The front assistant/”teacher” stresses for us to “manage our expectations,” meaning Humnoy can, and is encouraged to and does, explore outside of group time and even during teacher instruction. Here’s how the Beasts (19 months – 2 1/2 years) class went:
The class starts out with “circle time” where the teacher puts a bucket of shakers (more like toddler maracas) in the middle of the big mat. Each child and parent(s) are encouraged to grab a pair.
2. New move
Miss Teacher Lady demonstrates a New Move of the Week, if you will, and encourages the class to try it, if they’d like. (See the theme here?)
Group introductions of parent(s) and kids to a group song and dance.
With music, warm-up starts out as a slow walk in a circle. After the walk is running in a circle and then followed by horse-gallopping. There are random ‘freeze’ stops throughout each one, which is great for instruction. Finally, it’s time for the rainbow sheet! Kids can hold it, run on it, go under it, whatever!
5. At-home skill
Miss Teacher Lady demonstrates a move/skill that can be done at home called the Wheelbarrow, where the kids walk using their hands while Mom or Dad hold their legs.
6. Free play
Kids get to go buck wild on the facility’s awesome mini-gymnast equipment.
7. Re-group for balls and bubbles
Class is encouraged to come back to the mat and she throws out a bucket of literally a million balls. After encouraging the kids to put the balls away themselves, it’s Bubble Machine Time. Huge hit for kids and adults, no joke.
8. Cool-down and stamp
Back to group time, Miss Teacher Lady leads songs as part of the end of class. At the end, everyone is asked to wait against a wall outside of the gym space to get a stamp. Kids must love stamps because they were running.
The Little Gym was fun, active, and skillful. All the things that my little dude are. It is a great opportunity for children to take a structured and mobile approach to group interactive learning for a good hour. Great for spirited and non-spirited kids alike, the class structure is meant to encourage and never to force in a rigid schedule. Equipment is safe and well-kept. Teachers are creepily cheery at all times and extremely helpful. The facility offers a variety of payment options for classes until June 2013:
- One-time: full-year membership one-time payment, includes $40/annual membership fee ($19/class)
- Two-time: full payment split into two full payments, includes $40/annual membership fee ( ($19/class)
- Multi-pay: , $40 fee now, then 3 payments until March 2013 ($20/class)
- Installment: $42 fee now, monthly payment until April 2013 ($21/class)
At this rate, we conclude that having a family gym membership is most cost-effective and beneficial for the entire family for the same monthly cost. If a gym wasn’t family-friendly or too far, we definitely would enroll Humnoy in the Beasts class as we saw the improvement and beneficial interaction in the free introductory class.
Have you heard of The Little Gym? What have you done as a physical alternative to play dates or story time?
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