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 aged 4 months to 12 years 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.
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Fitness guru Kristen Horler developed Baby Boot Camp after she gave birth to her first child and realized the lack of appropriate prenatal and postnatal training programs currently available. The stroller-based fitness classes are designed to help moms get fit in a supportive and empathetic environment, combining strength-training exercises, cardiovascular drills, Pilates, yoga, and ab work. Eliminating the need for a babysitter and facilitating familial bonding, students are encouraged to bring along their new bundle and even use the stroller as a resistance tool. To ensure your utmost safety, all instructors are highly trained and certified, and the boot camp's structure abides by the guidelines of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Council on Exercise.
During his eight years of service in the Marine Corps, Montique Williams led an effort to whip soldiers into shape and to maintain weight standards. The experience made him realize that despite a heavily regimented setting, workouts can affect bodies in different ways. When he helmed his own cross-training program, he applied that lesson to his classes, adjusting drills and motivational strategies to suit each student. Likewise, he tailors his nutrition coaching to different goals and body types, drawing from detailed questionnaires, food journals, and trips to the grocery store to formulate dietary plans.
The NESTA-certified trainer has identified support as the second integral part of an effective exercise regimen. That's why his 45-minute sessions take place in a group environment, where positive encouragement trumps boot-camp-sergeant behavior such as yelling and forcing recruits to take timeouts for not tying their shoes properly.
Smash Gyms' list of instructors reads like a classified roster for some kind of elite instructor squad. The kickboxing instructor, Sam "The Ram" Spengler beats people insensate as a professional MMA fighter when he's not teaching junior-high students. Michael Jen, a third-degree black belt, engineered his own method of teaching Brazilian jujitsu after practicing the graceful art for 20 years.
What they share is a love of teaching. Jen draws on his wealth of experience studying under renowned teachers such as Roy Harris and Joe Moreira to impart his wisdom and high kicks to students. "The Ram" leads upbeat, fun kickboxing classes to help pupils reach their fitness goals, such as losing weight or being able to roundhouse kick the tempting ice cream offered to them.
Registered nurse Heidi Gemini first got into fitness as a cheerleader in high school. A few years later, upon receiving her nursing degree, she relocated to France and joined a folk-dancing troupe. Today, she uses her eclectic health and fitness background to lead students of all experience levels through Zumba classes. She can also supplement her instruction with nutritional guidance and reminders about which foot to put in first when doing the hokey pokey. Her classes take place three times a week in various locations, including Seasons Dance Studio, Arrillaga Family Recreational Center, and the Onetta Harris Community Center.