“Kids learn by having fun,” said Jim Lark, who opened the franchise in 2008 with his wife, Paige. Three sons under the age of 10 – one with special needs – has impressed on the Larks the importance of physical activity in child development.
This summer they’re offering Kids Camps on Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Each week features a new theme, including Superheroes; Legends, Fables, Folklore; My Animal Planet; and of course, The Little Gym Olympics. Children participate in games, music and fun creative movement as they exercise their imaginations and their muscles.
Classes cost $40 per day, and discounts are available for gym members and multiple children. Parents can also purchase punch cards that reduce the per-class rate to $25.
In year-round classes, The Little Gym’s primary focus is gymnastics. Non-competitive movement classes are offered for children as young as 4 months and as old as 12 years.
For infants and toddlers, parents work with their children on trunk, arm and leg exercises to help them become what Lark calls “independent movers.” Other activities, such as bubble blowing, stimulate brain development and cognitive abilities. Toddlers become more confident, coordinated and comfortable in groups, and even learn how to walk on a supervised balance beam.
Once the children turn 3, they take classes in the gym by themselves, though Mom and Dad can watch through the big windows in the lobby. “We’re trying to encourage a little more independence,” said Lark. “It’s virtually a seamless transition.” The 3- and 4-year-olds practice listening and taking turns as they learn basic gymnastic movements. Older students learn standard USA Gymnastics routines plus foundational moves such as forward rolls and handstands.
“Developmentally, you can’t go wrong with gymnastics,” Lark said. “You’ve got so many physical elements that are incorporated.”
In addition to gymnastics, The Little Gym offers karate, sports and dance classes for children 3½ to 8. Experienced teachers emphasize the basics of the chosen activities of the children, who gain valuable skills to help them continue advancing, whether in competitive athletics or just for fun. The business also offers gym members Parent Survival Nights, at which kids watch a movie and enjoy themed activities while Mom and Dad take a few hours off.
The lessons learned in classes apply directly to kids’ everyday lives, such as the time a toddler managed to tuck in his head and roll forward to avoid injury when he fell down the stairs. Parents refer to these times as Little Gym Moments and enthusiastically recount them to the Larks. Jim and Paige, for their part, enjoy seeing kids get excited about fitness and hearing about the benefits they see at home.
“Those are the neat stories where this applies outside the classroom.”
The Little Gym, located at 3850 Balfour Road, Suite K, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 925-634-0034 or visit www.tlgbrentwoodca.com.