With more than 30 years of kid-entertaining experience, The Little Gym provides a safe and noncompetitive environment wherein wee ones can exercise their brains and bodies. Maturing moppets aged 4 months to 3 years glean social and cognitive skills from a parent-child program that helps developing minds learn colors and numbers and helps parents learn to take turns and share. Gymnastics allows energized preschoolers and kindergarteners to tumble at their own pace and caters to differing ages, levels of muscle development, and hatred of vegetables. Grade-school gymnasts tackle the mat, bar, vault, and beam in classes divided by ability, not age, and dance classes allow the rhythmically inclined to shake and sway.
Pacific Diving Academy USA was founded in 1996 with a total of five diving students. Out of those humble beginnings, the non-profit organization has grown into a multifaceted institute for diving and gymnastics. At PDA's two training centers, coaches school students in all three sports while showing them how to maximize their abilities and become leaders. This positive environment helps kids of all ages thrive. In fact, the gymnastics program is open to tots who are just 12 months old, right around the time when they start to walk and sing The Star-Spangled Banner.
The talented coaches at Left Coast Cheer are led by Nelson DeDios, a former head instructor for the United Spirit Association. Coaches ready kids to cheer with classes that cover tumbling, stunts, choreography, and gymnastics. They also hold auditions for competitive cheer teams of all levels.
The primary inspiration behind My Gym, a children's activity center with outposts in more than 30 countries, was to combat childhood obesity. This led to the development of a full curriculum of fitness and play classes for kids and invisible friend dinosaurs ages 6 weeks to 13 years. But the physical activity is just part of the process. As each child accomplishes the tasks set forth for their age group—which might include anything from sing-alongs to introductions to sports—kids experience cognitive and emotional benefits as well. The group environment helps students socialize while they learn to share and take turns, and the attention and support from instructors boost their confidence and sense of independence. For kids 2.5 years and older, progress is tracked through the Building Blocks program, a system that recognizes and awards children as they display their new skills at periodic acknowledgment ceremonies.
Jeremy and Janine Hanewinckel, a husband and wife team with varied but complementary backgrounds, own the Yorba Linda My Gym location. Jeremy—or Mr. Jeremy, as the kids call him—received a degree in child and adolescent studies at Cal State Fullerton, and Miss Janine is a certified teacher who, when not at My Gym, interacts with kids through her job at Disneyland. In addition to classes organized by age, their full schedule also includes year-round day camps and customized birthday parties.
Founded in 1884, the YMCA of Greater Long Beach has been around longer than there's been a city of Long Beach. The community center—one of the oldest and largest of its kind—is equipped to handle more than 30,000 people or 18,000 gorillas annually. Besides its six community branches, 25 after-school sites, and five early childcare programs, the YMCA maintains a 230-acre camp area in the Big Bear area. In town, toddlers can attend childcare programs; kids can take martial arts and basketball lessons; teens can develop their leadership skills; adults can sign up for sports classes of their own; and the whole family can enjoy the pool.
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 seven months) and designed to incorporate the latest physiological, psychological, and meteorological research. The Chino Hills location offers one-hour programs for all developmental degrees, from Tiny Tykes, a class for parents and babies that focuses on movement, to Champions, for six- to eight-year-olds to master sports and gymnastics skills. Tadpoles aged seven to 13 years learn to be fitness frogs in the Cardio Kids class, which works specific bits of brawn through a four-station circuit training course; instructors also stress the importance of nutrition and frown on the consumption of swamp insects.