So today we took advantage of a free trial class from the Little Gym. A friend of mine raves about taking her 3-yr-old daughter and my curiosity has been piqued ever since. After we moved, I looked around for places nearby (and besides Gymboree and Little Gym, I had a tough time coming up with other venue options), and this place is about five minutes from the house. The only class offered outside work hours for M's age group was on Thursdays at 5:45pm. Hm... this might work, but what do we do about dinner? I decided to make two quick dinners Wednesday night so we could quickly heat one up after class. It still took us 5 weeks of rescheduling (with our moving and hubby traveling with work) to actually make the class. Not a good sign for fitting in our schedules. Especially since the payment structure is monthly membership (after your free class). Access to one class per week costs you $85. Hm. That translates to more than my fancy yoga class drop-in rates if we made it every single week... We kept all this in mind, as well as the rave reviews as we headed to our first class.
M had a great time playing with the cars in the waiting area. We had to be reminded to remove his shoes and socks before heading into the gym. I was worried about him getting hungry so I tried to slip him some cheddar bunnies while he played, but he was not interested. When we were called to the gym, M was stoked! He wanted to climb all over everything! But the curriculum called for sitting on the bare mat and singing an opening song. This did not sit well, even though the song involved shaking percussion instruments. I am sure if we went repeatedly we would learn the routine and the disappointment would not be so great. After singing the welcome song we went around the circle introducing the toddlers. They were invited to say their names, and then do an assisted summersault. M wanted to jump up the whole time... until it was his turn and he wanted to bury himself in my armpit. No summersault for him. Then we 'warmed up' by walking, then running, side-shuffling, and finally hopping in a circle. M didn't get this idea at all until the hopping, which he liked. We repeated the warm up using a parachute, which was nice since we had to hold the handles, it gave us some boundaries.
Finally, the teacher explained the main things we'd be working on that day, and let the kids go explore the gym. M loved being a monkey and hanging from the parallel bars. He also liked walking on the balance beam holding our hands, and in general climbing wherever he could. More than once we had to steer him back to the gym from peering through the windows back at the lobby trucks, or trying to play with a basketball hoop that was tucked in the corner, but mostly he liked this part of class. We did have to remind him not to tackle other kids and that he had to take turns. We also had to strongly encourage him to participate in the main activities for the day, hanging like a basket on the parallel bars and walking on the balance beam on your hands (both of these sound complicated to me, but the teachers did a great job of explaining them to the kids so they could get their bodies to do what was being asked. When I tried my hand it, it felt like one of those trust activities where you tell a blindfolded person where to walk). M especially loved the flipping.
After gym play, we headed back to the mat for the basketball activity, which M and the other little boys flocked to instantly (I am a fan of staying gender neutral, but it is so striking sometimes how certain activities seem to attract particular genders), and this was his favorite part of class. Basketball was followed by cleanup, more circle time and songs (which involved blowing bubbles and catching them on your tummy... M was reluctant at first and I don't really blame him).
Conclusion: Hubby and I had the same impression that this class was not for us. The cost compared with the frequency that we'd be able to attend plus the inconvenience of getting from work to class to home and fitting in food was just tight. Maybe sometime in the future if we find we have a ton of extra time on our hands we'll change our minds. But with little leagues in our future soon enough, I don't see any reason to start rushing from here to there.
M seemed reluctant to the concept, but I think he would warm up once he got used to the routine. I do think this would be a great place to have a birthday party, or a great place to go during the week if I were home with him.
I also have to admit, that I secretly wanted to meet other moms there, but I just didn't really find the time. The park seems like a much better alternative, with a more relaxed atmosphere, affordable price (free!), and flexible time (open any time the sun is up). Plus you can bring food for any meal or snack and a stroller to get your own workout in.
Oh, and I asked M on the way home, "What did we just do?" He replied, "Play with dump truck. Bus."
Do you go to a kids gym? Which one? What keeps you going back?