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.
The springy floors at Capitol City Gymnastics host more than gymnastics?they're also the launching pad for cheerleading and karate lessons. Although these three disciplines differ, each is offered to help imbue students with self-confidence and a love of physical activity. The facility's host of ever-evolving gear includes a 35-foot, in-ground tumble track, a pit of foam squares, vaulting equipment, and bars.
“Once you get used to it … you just kinda feel like you’re flipping,” Gym Marika student Jessica Witkin says when describing trampolining in an interview with NBC 4. Trampolining, which has elevated from a backyard mainstay to a medal-earning event, is just one of the gymnastics techniques offered at Gym Marika to help improve the lives of children. “It really builds their self-confidence,” says Head Coach Marika Zahrndt, who oversees a team of USAG-certified coaches.
During classes, Marika and her staff guide students as they absorb techniques that range from rolls, handstands, and round-offs to combinations, aerial somersaults, and handsprings. Classes encompass multiple events, including floor routines, balance beams, vaulting, and uneven parallel bars. The programs are designed to accommodate kids with all aspirations, from those who dream of gold medals to kids who want a fun way to exercise and get through the seven-year winter.
Kristi's Tumbling and Trampoline has cultivated stage performers, 88 Junior Olympic National Champions, two national champions, and one world champion since opening its doors in 1994. The instructors, many of whom boast competitive backgrounds and multiple awards, help all levels of students build both physical skills and self-esteem. Beginning at two years old with parent and tot classes, they take little ones through courses that teach everything from basic tumbling to how to flip with the grace and beauty of a rainbow-sprinkle pancake. Kristi's Tumbling and Trampoline's facilities form a safe-haven for students to practice their skills with multiple trampolines that help them reach the sky and a nine-foot-deep foam pit that lets fledgling gymnasts show no fear. After making the journey from beginner to gymnast, students can join competitive teams and showcase their abilities to appreciative fans.
For more than 50 years, Judy Dollenmayer Studio of Dance's instructors have been dedicated to training students of all ages. And as they offer more than 100 classes per week, there is something for everyone. Their styles range from jazz to tap to hip hop. While they emphasize turnout, flexibility, and posture in ballet, they focus more on the storytelling aspect of dance in lyrical classes, helping dancers drive their movements through emotion. During hip-hop classes, they coach students to hit funky, fast-paced movements, and in tap, they teach feet to tap out rhythmic beats. In addition to these expressive forms of movement, the instructors also lead barre ballet fitness classes, which blend dance techniques into calorie-burning cardio routines.
The championship-winning coaches at Gym Skills lead an array of tumbling and gymnastics classes in a noncompetitive and encouraging atmosphere. Mommy & Me courses, geared toward children ages 18 months–2.5 years, allow parents to join in on introductory limb bending, while preschool gymnastics lessons ease 3- to 5-year-olds into the world of muscle malleability. Both half-hour classes gently work little ones' flexibility, balance, stretching, and tumbling skills using kid-friendly gym equipment such as trampolines, balance beams, and 500-pound teddy bear dumbbells. Obstacle courses test youngsters' abilities to climb, jump, perform forward and backward rolls, and unravel shuttle-launch algorithms.