And we had a blast!
If you have never visited The Little Gym, there are classes for children from 4 months to 12 years old. The Little Gym is a self-described experiential learning and physical development center that offers classes and a positive learning environment for babies and pre-teens. Their instructors lead through their three-dimensional learning philosophy that encourages children to get moving, boost their brains, and become good citizens.
My little one recently entered the toddling stage. He walks around, attempts to run, and doesn’t let his wobbliness slow him down. At all. He is learning to move and balance, and it is so fun to watch. I was thrilled to be able to take him to The Little Gym to see what they had in store for us, and how I could encourage his movement and development. Because of his age, we participate in a parent/child class.
You know how sometimes you take your baby to a new place, and you’re a little awkward because you don’t know what to expect? (Surely that isn’t just me … I hear that goes away by your second child). That didn’t happen at The Little Gym. The staff are so warm and welcoming that you immediately feel right at home.
Kick off your shoes, you’re among friends.
It is obvious they all enjoy being surrounded by children. They have no hesitation about playing and talking with my baby, even offering to hold him if I needed to go to the restroom. (Go to the bathroom alone?! How is that even possible?!) They also don’t mind a grumpy or crying child and work hard to cheer them up.
I mentioned kicking off your shoes. That is actually what happens before you enter the gym. “Bare Feet Are Welcome!” reads the sign on the door, and the entire group goes in all together.
We begin each class by shaking bells and singing our welcome song. We all have a chance to introduce both ourselves and our babies. This is such a nice way to establish the community of the class. I love seeing other mamas and daddies and caregivers, hearing their names, and starting each class with excitement and mutual admiration of the sweet babies wandering all around us as we sit there singing.
Not only are the staff warm and loving, they are also knowledgeable. I am fascinated by child development, and I find the tips and information about muscle development and growth so interesting.
I love that the instructors explain why we do the activities. I never have to wonder why we are flipping them over or why we practice grabbing onto the bar, because before I can ask, the instructor is explaining what skills we are practicing with each activity.
And it’s okay that each baby is in a different place developmentally. The instructors give directions for walkers and non-walkers, and demonstrate each skill with the babies and parents to make sure everyone is safe and happy. It makes the class meaningful, and gives it more depth than just babies running around aimlessly on the soft mats. (Although, babies running around aimlessly happens and is not admonished.) We always leave with skills to practice at home and new knowledge about why they are important.
The staff are great, and I love that my child has the chance to play with other children who are the same age. It’s nice to talk to other parents about what our babies are doing, and to share moments of pride as we all watch them learn and grow and do new cute things! We are continuing our membership because we have enjoyed these past few weeks tremendously!
Here are a few other positives that stood out about our experience:
1. The Facility
Clean, welcoming, colorful, and kid-friendly. Even with all those bare feet walking around, the rooms are sparkling. There is plenty of parking, and the Rosewood location is easy to find and convenient.
2. The Changing Room
If you’re like me, you judge the places you visit on whether or not they have a changing table. Well, The Little Gym not only has a changing table, but they stock it with diapers and wipes. And it’s not one of those hard plastic pull down things you usually have to work with. It is a nice table with a soft changing pad, and everything you need is right there. You don’t even have to bring your diaper bag inside.
3. The Class Structure
I love that we begin and end each class the same way. Practicing routines is so important for little ones. I also love that the first bit of the class is structured, but the second half is a perfect mixture of free play exploration with skills mixed in. The littles love meeting other children and running around to explore their own interests. It is a great balance and very developmentally appropriate for the age of the children.
4. The Manipulatives
Rhythm sticks, an air track, bouncy balls, a parachute, tunnels. The instructor varied these fun tools from class to class, giving the children and parents opportunities to play together and practice new skills with different manipulatives. So fun!
5. The Equipment
The bars and beams are sturdy and plentiful, and there are many soft mats, wedges, and blocks on which to climb and explore.
6. The Extras
The Little Gym also offers so much more than just classes! They have free member events that are TONS of fun and an added value to joining the program. These include activities like Donuts with Dad, special themed craft hours, Popsicles with Parents, story time, and so much more! This month, members also have the opportunity to attend their Annual Member Only Halloween party on October 28. Talk about fun!
In addition, they offer open practices times which provide a structured and supervised period to practice the essential gymnastics skills they’re learning in class each week. Or members can take advantage of monthly Let’s Build, Let’s Play events which build upon your kid’s problem solving, imagination and socialization skills through fun activities involving LEGO® DUPLO® bricks.
I also love that they offer awesome birthday bashes that take all the hard work off mom and dad. Instructor lead activities keep kids entertained and it’s structured to make the day extra special for your little one.
And did I mention Parent’s Survival Night for ages 3+? Scheduled on select evenings, these give you time to see a movie, catch up with friends or enjoy a meal while your kids get some quality “kid time” in a safe, fun, familiar place as the trained instructors lead them through music, games, and fun LEGO® DUPLO® and LEGO® Juniors building activities. Talk about a win-win!
Try It FREE for Yourself!
I can’t say enough great things about The Little Gym. If you’re on the fence, call about scheduling a class for your little one. The first one is always free and is a great way to see if it is a good fit for your family!
Enter now for your chance to win a month of free classes and experience all the fun I did for yourself!One Month of Free Classes from The Little Gym of Columbia or Lexington