In 1976, Joan Barnes—a California mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children's cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes for parents, newborns, and children under 1 year that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
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 4 months old–12 years old 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.
Twisters Gymnastics’ dedicated staffers assist the physical and mental development of children via various gymnastics- and play-based activities within an 18,000-square-foot facility. An array of full-size Olympic equipment, including half a dozen balance beams, a pair of parallel bars, and a trio of trampolines guarded by gold-medalist kangaroos, aids in aerial and flexibility-enhancing pursuits. A pommel horse and still rings increase balance and build upper-body strength in older children, and an obstacle course, 30-foot slide, and play area—equipped with a ball pit and multihued tubes—keep tots entertained. Alongside birthday parties for energetic celebrants and guests, Twister Gymnastics hosts a plentitude of gymnastics and tumbling programs, ranging from one-hour courses to competitive teams. Twister Gymnastics also holds preschool gymnastics classes, summer-camp programs, open workout sessions, and somersault endurance contests in an anti-gravitational chamber.
With more than 30 years of kid-entertaining experience, The Little Gym provides a safe and noncompetitive environment wherein kiddies ages 3–12 can exercise their brains as well as their bodies. The summer-camp sessions let youngsters rev their indefatigable energy motors with myriad physical activities and hoot-a-minute games. Arts-and-crafts classes emphasize various hands-on activities that facilitate bonding, boost the ability to listen, and calibrate motor skills to achieve more accurate high-fives. Each week features an interactive learning theme, with unique lesson plans highlighted daily. The summer-camp schedule lets parents sign up for multiple days in a row or even one session at a time, mimicking the flexibility of a double-jointed Gumby.
Pump It Up’s 12,000-square-foot indoor space is filled with inflatable diversions to keep young swashbucklers occupied. During three fun-filled pop-in playtimes, children can leap around gargantuan air-filled bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an air-filled obstacle course. Pump It Up’s giant indoor air arenas are climate-controlled and maintained according to rigorous guidelines enforced by a well-trained staff and local police. Parents bounce for free during pop-in, so childless adults who want to play will need to borrow a neighbor’s kid or win one by collecting soda tops.
My Gym Children's Fitness Center helps kids aged 6 weeks to 13 years old build confidence and life skills during classes that incorporate music, physical activities, and games. Classes and programs include options such as Little Bundles, in which kids up to 6 months participate in visual, audial, and spatial exploration. In Whiz Kids, older children build skills in running, jumping, and catching, and the Cardio Kids class gets kids up off the couch with strength and flexibility exercises.