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, The Little Gyms have sprouted up across the country. The programs and classes 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 club keeps visitors fit with group exercise classes, personal training, and aquatic activities in indoor and outdoor pools. Specific classes vary by location, though each hosts cycling, yoga, and Pilates. The 24-hour Harbor location caters to muscles with 160 classes per week, including youth classes in swimming, sports, and ballet.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in kinesiology exercise science, ACE-certified trainer and Fit Fun Bootcamps founder Dustin Maher designed MamaTone Fitness to help moms vanquish weight gain after childbirth. Inspired by his own mother—who cooked his siblings and him healthful meals but rarely had enough time to exercise—Maher strives to imbue his clients with the motivation to do both. Whether training new moms, moms-to-be, dads who had moms, or curiously fast sons whose moms found them in the middle of a Kansas corn field climbing out of a spaceship, his group classes and boot camps immerse participants in a full-body workout with moral support from neighboring exercisers.
April Namio, the owner of Capital Gymnastics, started her gymnastics training when she was 3 years old—and at her gym, other kids can do the same. The programs range from basic classes for preschool-age tots to competitive training for older kids, with more complex routines incorporating the bars, vault, beam, floor, and trampoline.