100% Honest Review: The Little Gym for Toddlers and their Parents
Working two part-time jobs instead of one full-time job, I have one day off during the weekdays to spend with Phil. Phil has now reached his "terrific" twos and I can tell that he needs to release his energy outside of our home. It's also getting cold, so we won't be going to the park as often as we'd like. We also don't have many children his age nearby to play with him, so Phil socializes well with adults, but not so much with other children. I did some research online and found out that there's a "mommy-and-me" program offered by The Little Gym. We attended the free trial and signed up for membership. As of today, we've attended six sessions in the "Beasts, Super Beasts" category.
Benefits: 4/5 Pandas
Moving: You and your toddler will definitely move a lot during the 45-minute session. You'll burn calories running after your little monkeys. As a physical therapist, I see the benefits in all the balance and coordination activities. 5/5 Pandas
Brain Boost: I haven't seen any real teaching of numbers and letters, but they do teach a sign language word of the day in the beginning. 3/5 Pandas
Citizen Kid: Most of this depends on mommy and daddy telling their toddlers to wait, share and take turns. The Little Gym provides this opportunity. 4/5
Pricing: 3.5/5 Pandas
Prices may be different according to location. For us: one season lasts from September to June and costs $1160 dollars, split into two payments. That does not include the $50 annual membership fee ("$30 if you sign up today!"). You can also opt to pay per month at $124 per month. You can join at any time during the season at a pro-rated basis. What you get is one class per week, two free classes per month, and one free Lego Duplo class per month. Members can also sign up for other programs and book a party at the Little Gym for cheaper prices. The fees aren't ridiculous. What I'm not in love with is that they auto-charge your credit card on file when it's time to renew.
Scheduling: 4/5 Pandas
There's at least one session every day of the week for the Beasts and Super Beasts. The sessions are usually in the mornings, earliest at 8:45AM. The latest evening session is at 7:10PM, but there aren't many evening sessions available during the week.
Class Size: 3/5 Pandas
When you have ten toddlers, you will also have at least ten adults in the gym at the same time. It gets a little crowded. Try telling two screaming toddlers to wait for their turns, or share the balance beam. The toddlers also run all over the place, run into each other, roll onto each other on the mats, and sometimes can jump onto each other. Almost every surface is padded or softened. You still do have walls, windows, mirrors, and poles. With a lot of people in the gym, it gets a little chaotic, and sometimes, it's hard for each toddler to have one-on-one attention from the instructor.
Program Variety: 3.5/5 Pandas
At every session, there's a welcome song and a goodbye song, maracas, balls, bubbles, warm up, a sign language word of the day, and "homework" for mommy and daddy. There's two to three new skills taught. Sometimes we play with a huge "parachute." Sometimes we play with hoops. Other times, the kids jump on a giant inflated bounce mat. It's varied enough for a toddler, but for mommy, I just want a little more. Maybe it's just the physical therapist in me.
Family-Friendly: 4.5/5 Pandas
Definitely a warm, clean and welcoming environment for the entire family.
Free-Play: 1/5 Panda (no option!)
As a member, I wish there were times for free play in the gym, where our toddlers can freely explore the gym for an hour or two extra every week.
Final Score: 3.91/5 Pandas (rounded up to 4)
4/5 Pandas! Phil and Mama recommend The Little Gym, especially their Parent/Child Program (Beasts and Super Beasts)
Tips for Parents
Sign up for a trial session and go in with no expectations. Don't expect your toddler to listen to the instructor, sit calmly in a circle, learn new skills, or participate fully right away; your child will definitely explore the gym.
Prepare to sweat! You'll run after your toddler during the entire session!
Wear layers and cotton clothing. Your child will not be wearing shoes or socks in the gym. He or she will also sweat, so let them wear breathable clothing during the session.
If you're unsure after the trial, sign up for the monthly payments. See if you can switch to seasonal payments if you and your child really enjoy the program.
Invite grandparents, your spouse, and your toddler's siblings to the classes!
These classes will not turn your child into a gymnast, but will lay some foundations.