"When we teach—from babyhood—people to move well, they'll enjoy doing it, and they'll continue doing it." Such is the philosophy of Gymco president and co-founder Doreen Bolhuis, which she relayed to the New York Times in a 2010 video report. The importance of starting young kids on the road toward athleticism is something Bolhuis is passionate about, especially as a former elite-level gymnastics coach who's been teaching for more than 35 years. It's a concept she calls "physical literacy," and she's appeared on news outlets such as Today, CNN, and ABC News to discuss how young children's physical training and development is just as important as their mental growth. Along those lines, Bolhuis created the GymTrix line of DVDs to help parents develop babies' fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
And Bolhuis's enthusiasm for childhood fitness is apparent at Gymco, where her staff undergoes a four-step technical and philosophical certification protocol on sports development. She has transformed what began in 1980 as a few classes held in a barn behind a local retirement home into a 5-acre, 16,000-square-foot first location and a second, state-of-the-art facility on the north side of town.
When you walk into either site, you'll see kids scaling rock walls, doing back flips, and defying imaginary pirates as they walk the plank-like high beam, improving their physical skills in sports, gymnastics, and cheerleading classes. What aren't as obvious are the internal changes that begin to manifest, from improved self-confidence and perseverance to the gradual building of character. Fulfilling her start-them-early mission, Bolhuis also offers classes designed specifically for preschoolers and kindergartners.
In Gymboree Play & Music's most popular class, Play & Learn, tots master skills such as cause and effect, problem solving, and good communication through games and play. The notion that learning should be fun for the under-five set permeates all of Gymboree's classes. From music and art to sports activities, most classes are calibrated for development at six-month age intervals. Mixed-age classes teach cooperation, as kids play movement games or perform songs on musical instruments. Older children take the school-skills class to learn skills that will help them in school and during conference calls with the president. All of this takes place in a well-padded indoor playground with tunnels, slides, and bridges designed by nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to withstand tiny bare feet and the wrath of resident trolls.
A congregation of antique dealers sells their vintage wares at the annual Grand Rapids Antiques Market, which is fueled by nostalgia's fumes and hosts time travelers as they venture into the rich history of Americana. The market dips buyers and sellers alike into an antiques-filled reservoir overflowing with the past's furnishings, accessories, sporting goods, and 2-year-old laptops. Professional appraisers check out homeowners' potential gems, and live auctioneers corral the highest bid with lassos woven from their own bristly mustache hairs.
Instructors at GrandRapidsGolfLesson.com correct golfers' swing imbalances using time-earned wisdom and cutting-edge technological analysis. In private lessons, the instructors focus on mechanics and setup, helping to correct bad habits such as flat takeaways or uncontrollable sneezing during downswings.
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With 143 acres of sprawling meadows, woodlands, wetlands, and streams, Blandford Nature Center provides a sanctuary from the harsh indoor world of dust-mite wrangling and crippling Nintendo thumb. Support the center in its eco-endeavors with a family membership, providing clans of amateur arborists with a number of benefits, including: