I figured a gym class might be a good thing to try for my daughter Addison. I’d been told Addison had a slight gross motor delay and she never crawled. She hopped around on her bum like a little bunny then one day just got up and walked. According to my pediatrician, these days a lot of kids skip crawling altogether. He explained that ever since the advent of SIDS, moms are being told to make sure their babies sleep on their backs, which he believes inhibits their ability and motivation to crawl. Recent studies suggest that crawling is important, however, as it wires up the connections that cross the left/right axis in the brain and is later linked to reading skills. I thought a gym class might help her make any connections she may have missed.
And I’ve made a new year’s resolution for Dash and Zora — get more exercise. The news of skyrocketing childhood obesity rates always worries me, but the habits we establish now with our kids will hopefully last a lifetime.
Think your child could use a little help with their gross motor skills? Or do you just want them get some extra exercise? We investigated a couple of gym classes in town.
One of Addison’s buddies, Otis, signed up for a series of classes at Kidnasium (Wilshire and Lincoln boulevards) so we joined them for a free class to see what it was all about.
The space is amazing. Addison opened the door and entered a magical mystery world filled with bright colorful objects in all different shapes and sizes to climb all over and explore safely (a key word for many moms). She wasn’t as interested in the lead activities. My guess is there is so much to take in just in the space alone that it probably takes a few sessions to get them to focus on the rotating activities of which there were an impressive array. There were songs and warm ups to start, a couple of seriously cool obstacle courses designed right in front of us, swings the kids were taught to use standing up, a myriad of basketballs and hoops, and to finish bubbles and stickers.
On the negative side, the classes move a bit quickly for toddlers and they’re pricey. An eight week session costs $180 and there is a $40 membership fee the first time you take a series. My friend Sarah got a two-for-one deal on afternoon classes, which is something to think about.
If you’re on a budget, however, the best deal in town is probably the gym and swim classes at the YMCA on Sixth Street (at Santa Monica Boulevard). It’s free for members and memberships aren’t too expensive (individuals are $48/month after a $150 joining fee). The YMCA also has a childcare center for kids 6 weeks to 8 years for $4 an hour for up to two hours if you want to work out yourself.
When we walked in to the gym, Addison’s eyes lit up like great big saucers when she saw all the colorful puffy mats to climb over. They even have some of the same activities as the other class. Classes are often led by volunteers, but our class was led by the very engaging young director of the program, Levi Booker, who is clearly committed to his work at the Y. When he’s not singing songs and blowing bubbles he’s busy organizing fundraisers and special events for the kids. Much of gym time is free play so Addison had a ball. She scared me half to death, flying down slides and crashing into floors and walls. But hey, she got up laughing.
After gym, it’s time for swim, and kids need to be changed into their swimming diapers and bathing suits. The locker room is adjacent to the pool, but it can get crowded depending upon the size of the class. The classes are held in the small, shallow pool next to the adult swimming pool. It is heated, and warmer than the regular pool, but it still seems cold at times.
The swim part didn’t go over quite as well for Addison. She started crying in the showers before we even got near the pool, so when the lifeguard couldn’t find a shower cap for me to borrow, we decided to call it a day. I was grateful to the mom who reached out and said her son cried for two months before he started to enjoy it. It’s good to know that we can try to push through and others will be understanding.
On the other hand, Dash loved the swim part of the class when he was a baby. He used to push me away and say, “Baby go!” He’d sink and I’d fish him out spluttering and coughing. When he had recovered, he’d push me away again, saying “Baby go!” Tenacious or stubborn, you decide. I found it was helpful to bring a stroller so I could keep him from running away while I changed out of my suit.
On the negative side, the classes are often taught by volunteers who may not have the training and experience of the leaders at the pricier gymnasiums. In addition, at times the gym can become very crowded, especially at the beginning of the sessions. A swim cap is also required for adults.
Other classes we’ve heard good things about:
• Dan the Man Super Kids: 2143 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 90025. Eight-week sessions for $171/45 minutes or $176/1 hour, plus a $50 annual enrollment fee.
• My Gym Children’s Fitness Center: 12422 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 90025. Ten-week sessions, which include free play for $200 plus an initial lifetime membership fee of $75.
Find a calendar with local events, helpful links, and more adventures of Addison, Zora, and Dash at smatoz.blogspot.com.