Within Cary Gymnastics & Dance Center's 4,200-square-foot facilities, instructors look on as gymnasts of all ages—from adults and teens to toddlers licking the chalk from their hands for the first time—tumble on padded floors, vault over pommel horses, and swing on high bars during open-gym hours or weekly classes. Beyond the apparatus, dance and cheer squads hone their routines safely over the mats, and athletes practice sports such as basketball, volleyball, and floor hockey at the CG Sports Center, where pitching machines hurl baseballs and softballs within a 50-foot-long batting tunnel.
The coaches at Gym Spot have trained several award-winning state and regional gymnasts, as well as recreational gymnasts. However, they also train babies. Their curriculum covers classes for children as young as 12 months, as they believe that a gymnastics education develops universal life skills, not just the ability to win medals. Their preschool sessions allow toddlers to work with their parents or on their own, depending on age, as they practice hand-eye coordination and cooperation.
As for children in 1st through 8th grade, they participate in activities that align with the USA Gymnastics program, including tumbling, vaulting, balance beam, and bars. Students who hope to compete, meanwhile, work on graduating each successive USAG level.
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.
Instructors at Pierce Athletics flip limbs and encourage limbering back bends and high-flying leaps in an 11,500-square-foot gym during an array of tumbling classes. Muscles stretch and bodies soar during 60- to 90-minute classes divided by age and skill level. Each course holds a few sessions per week; this Groupon covers one session per week for nine weeks. Adults tag along with miniature athletes for Tiny Tumblers classes, introducing tykes as young as 18 months to coordination and flexibility, and older newbies in the Beginner or Advanced Beginner courses learn cartwheels and round-offs to serve them throughout life's dance-offs.
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.
M&M Gymnastics & Dance's world champion gymnast and instructor, Chellsie Memmel, draws on Olympic training and myriad competitions as she guides tykes toward healthy lifestyles. Gymnastics classes focus on building coordination, strength, the ability to tightrope between skyscrapers, and self-confidence in boys and girls of all ages, starting in infancy. Dance classes elucidate varying motifs from ballet to hip hop in wee ones age 2 and older. M&M's staff encourages talented students to join their competitive gymnastics, dance, and thumb-wrestling teams to further foster an athletic lifestyle. The ample studio space hosts balance bars and floor space for practice, as well as an inflatable playground, two in-ground trampolines, and obstacle courses for fun.