Like most good ideas, Gymboree Play and Music didn't begin in a business meeting—it began out of necessity. In 1976, Joan Barnes, a California mom, found herself frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time. Knowing that other parents were undoubtedly feeling the same frustration, she took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. She consulted experts to design a curriculum of activities to foster the development of children’s cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play. She hired a nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers. And her staff began conducting entertaining classes covering subjects ranging from music to sports to impart valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds.
As their children learned and socialized, parents also found benefit in meeting and befriending other moms and dads in their local area. More than 30 years later, her vision has proved to be a success: more than 712 child-centered franchises now spread over 42 countries, bringing confidence and creativity to thousands of youngsters in several continents and to one in the center of the earth.
The New York Kids Club provides Big Apple families with enriching entertainment for both the young and the young-at-heart. On Friday night, the club holds its week-wrapping-up events—Friday Fun for Everyone or Pajama Party:
Hands-on learning and playtime in JW Tumbles’ interactive classes help children explore the far reaches of their cranial caverns. Parents with toddlers younger than 3 years old can enroll in parent-participation classes such as Squeakers Class, geared toward four- to 10-month-olds, Little Maestros is a musical adventure for kids four months to five years, or Wobblers Class, where baby bodybuilders 11 to 18 months old practice tumbling and balance to increase motor skills and decrease the need for sippy-cup creatine shakes.
Ages 3 and older can fly solo—parents can watch from the sidelines if they wish—during age-appropriate and highly interactive independent classes. The Stompers Class prep 3- to 4.5-year-olds for kindergarten, while Specialty Classes introduces kids from 3 to 7 years old to specific forms of fun in a non-competitive environment. Each class meets once a week, leaving plenty of time for use of the playspace passes.
Clad in fatigues and soaking in sweat, the denizens of Pure Power Boot Camp lift logs, climb walls, and navigate obstacle courses. If it sounds like military boot camp, that's no accident; each of the drill instructors are current or former military members. Presided over by Lauren Brenner?who became a personal trainer at 16 before playing Division I tennis and working as a trainer for the Syracuse men's basketball team?each instructor leads a platoon that trains together multiple times per week. Pure Power Boot Camp's boot-camp training is ideal for adventure races like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or Warrior Dash as it incorporates real obstacles and situations. After their initial training, members can enroll in maintenance courses that help them keep their new bodies in shape and offer an excuse to see the climbing wall with which they fell in love.
No matter the class, Twisters Gymnastics Center's instructors always make sure to pack their lessons with a hearty dose of encouragement. They inspire students of all ages and skill levels in a 6,200-square-foot gymnasium outfitted with an array of tumbling and gymnastics equipment, from balance beams and pommel horses to colorful tumbling obstacles and a foam pit. Their introductory Mommy & Me and Mini-Gym classes help kiddies build strength and develop muscle control, and their more advanced sessions, including competitive gymnastics, nurture students' desires to test their skills against others. Each child's safety is equally important as their physical development; every instructor is certified in basic first aid and CPR, is USGF-safety certified, and is proficient in scaring away grizzly bears with nothing but a glare.
The team members at Move Your Body Kidz Klub, Inc. know that it's more important than ever for children to develop an active lifestyle. They help youngsters stay in motion via age-appropriate group fitness classes such as yoga and dance. They offer interactive games, dance-based video games like Dance Dance Revolution, and devices such as the SportsWall, which, like a possessed Lite-Brite, promotes hand-eye coordination with blinking lights. The brightly colored studios are filled with kid-sized stationary bikes and elliptical machines, making the center an ideal spot for healthy holiday or birthday parties. The crew also gets older exercisers moving during Zumba classes for adults and teens, along with African dance classes and personal training.