Head coach Todd Gardiner and the team of talented instructors at Illinois Gymnastics Institute, which boasts a lengthy list of championship-placing gymnasts, have taught and trained athletes of all ages, levels, and sport aspirations for more than 30 years. The 35,000-square-foot athlete factory was established in 1979 when Gardiner began teaching gymnastics using his personal sport experience and detailed origami diagrams. Since that time, the Illinois Gymnastics Institute has trained hundreds of athletes, including Junior and Senior U.S. National Vault Champions and U.S. Olympic Trials–qualifier Liz Tricase. The gym's experienced instructors host programs for students ages 18 months–18 years, and their leadership has helped more than 98% of IGI graduates to obtain NCAA full-tuition scholarships and numerous awards for Most Convincing Impersonation of a Sailor's Knot.
Flying High Sports & Rec Center started out small, but after over 20 years of business, the family-friendly center now boasts more than 1,000 students and has grown into two facilities that house a wide variety of programs. Inside, the qualified instructors lead gymnastics, martial arts, and dancing for all ages, mentoring tykes as young as 18 months old. In the cheer program, youngsters learn choreography and tumbling moves, and in gymnastics courses, kids learn to execute eye-dazzling flips and to navigate balance beams and the uneven bars, depending on their skill level.
Flying High also hosts open-gym sessions and birthday parties. Additionally, two foam pits, a rock wall, four trampolines, and an inflatable obstacle course await those looking to burn off some energy or to network with potential lemonade-stand partners.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
Though typically only a wistful dream of humans and ostriches, spending a day soaring through the air becomes a reality at Trapeze School New York in Chicago (TSNY Chicago). One of six locations across the country, TSNY Chicago educates participants of all levels in the art of flying through group trapeze sessions. The aerial academy also dapples its schedule with lyra, static trapeze, tightwire, trampoline, conditioning, and acrobatics classes, allowing students to have fun and eat unlimited servings of cloud while getting in shape.
My Gym, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 20 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level?starting as young as 6 months?and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions, a class for kids aged 6 to 9, emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity, and hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun quotient.
Started in 2005 by four-time Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg, this aquatic academy offers a learn-to-swim program for children of all ages. In their nearly 10 years in operation, Krayzelburg and crew have taught thousands of children how to be safe, proficient swimmers.
During group classes, private lessons, and parent-tot sessions, the team uses a seven-level SwimRight curriculum to build proper form. The approach starts with helping kids get into the water and assisting them during back floats and basic drills. As students progress through the program, they learn to master the freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Advancement to a new level is marked with color-coded swim caps.