In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes opened The Little Gym based on his new take on physical education. His curriculum emphasized motivating children to achieve instead of pressuring them to win. As a result, The Little Gym became a noncompetitive, positive, nurturing environment where young ones could develop physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. Since then, Little Gyms have sprouted up across the country. Enter Kevin and Page Helmick. Kevin and Page's passion for working with children stirred the duo to open their own Little Gym locations in Liberty Township and Mason. Parents of two young boys, Kevin and Page captain a talented staff of childcare professionals and instructors that is as passionate about childhood development as they are. The programs and classes they teach aim to help kids develop skills such as rhythm and coordination, and kids camps during winter, spring, and summer breaks prevent children from creating finger paintings that express the existential ennui they feel when school is out of session. The gym's classes, camps, and childcare programs have earned this location the Best Children's Play award from Cincinnati Family Magazine.
Train hobbyist Don Oeters founded EnterTRAINment Junction in 2008 to showcase railroading in an educational and amusing way. Two years later, his 80,000-square-foot facility was voted Ohio's Best Family Entertainment Center of 2010.
At the centerpiece, a 25,000-square-foot indoor model train display dazzles visitors with 90 G-scale trains and 2 miles of track winding through handcrafted landscapes, including an 11-foot waterfall, thousands of trees, and scenes documenting railroad's early, middle, and modern periods. Each train car is the size of a loaf of bread, making it easier for groups to see it or break it into communal pieces, and Oeters and his staff continually tweak the locomotive's surroundings by adding seasonal touches and installing minor or major updates. Historical train artifacts, educational videos, and interactive exhibits await amblers in the railroad museum, and the Imagination Junction kids' area entertains youngsters with train-themed play structures, hand-cranked and electronic locomotive rides, and a section dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine, the first train to successfully learn sign language.
There's something for everyone at Court Yard Sportsplex, keeping families busy and active with its variety of sports facilities and classes. Tennis balls thwack against rackets during private lessons, instructional clinics, and competitive inter-club matches at the complex's 11 indoor and outdoor courts. Elsewhere, cardio and weightlifting machines whir with the effort of exercisers, and the squeak of tennis shoes echoes upon basketball and racquetball courts. Outside in the heated pool?open Memorial Day through Labor Day?younger kids splash in the shallow end during beginners swim lessons, and older kids sluice through the water while working on their strokes. For the more artistically inclined, music emanates from classrooms where a Joffrey Ballet?trained instructor orchestrates youth ballet classes, which culminate in a summer recital. Whatever activity they choose, members can soothe exerted muscles by visiting the onsite massage therapist, who calls upon nine massage modalities and essential oils infused with lullabies.
Kids bounce off the walls of inflatable bouncers, cascade down air-filled slides, and squirm through plush obstacle courses at Pump It Up's indoor playground. Designed with safety in mind, this staff-supervised funhouse excites children's imaginations while they burn off extra energy at open jump.
Also designed as a party venue, the interactive party experiences involve interactive themes such as Pirate Quest and Superhero Training Camp, which challenges kids to decode secret messages as they listen to an adventuresome soundtrack. To fuel parties, parents can purchase pop, pizza, and cake, alongside balloons and goodie bags. Strengthening both imagination and body, Pump It Up also offers Jump-N-Art summer camps, where kids replicate Picasso's creative process of painting, then getting dizzy in an inflatable mansion.
When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree Play & Music spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills. The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.
The phosphorescent indoor landscape at Monster Mini Golf immerses putters in an eerie universe that inverts the sun-soaked cheer of conventional courses. Rimmed in glowing green barriers, 18 holes lure swingers of all sizes to challenge their coordination and resolve in the face of winged monsters, scowling animated trees, a creepy clown, and their opponents' shockingly dazzling smiles. Sheltered from searing rain and howling wind, the indoor course enables play around hazards such as a spell well and luminous, ghostly windmill at any time of the year. An in-house radio station and DJ mask the sound of pounding hearts with lively beats and course commentary, and golfers looking for additional glory can win prizes by participating in regular contests or at the on-site arcade.