Hi everyone! I originally wrote this post in late 2019, before all of this pandemic craziness. I’m updating this post now, to not only remind everyone of this amazing locally owned family business, but also to let you all know of the many amazing precautions TLG has in place. You’ll find the full list HERE, but some of the changes include adjustments to lobby flow, masks for all employees, limited numbers of children, and extra cleaning and disinfecting. They are even offering virtual classes, which my kids have been loving!
When my oldest son was 18 months old (he’s now 5), we were brand new to Columbus, I was about 16 weeks pregnant with our second son, and frankly dying of boredom. I’m a stay at home parent, and we had only lived here a few months, so playdates weren’t really a thing for us yet. I’d heard of the Little Gym when we lived in Dallas, and so, in an attempt to add some much needed structure and play to our week, my little Bean and I set out in August 2016 to see what all the fuss was about. We tried out our first class (for free!), and that was it – we were both sold. 4.5 years later, both of my boys have enjoyed the classes, events, and camps, offered by the Little Gym Polaris and I’m pretty sure my little girl is looking forward to her chance to hit the big red mat (she’s only 2 months old, but I can tell…special mother-daughter connection).
To say that we love the Little Gym is probably an understatement. I mean, I do drive from Gahanna, to take my kids to an activity in Polaris – it’s a bit of a hike! Ok, so this may seem a little weird, its just a kid play space…right? What’s this lady even talking about… Well let me tell you WHY we love the Little Gym so much, and also, why it is the ONE ACTIVITY my boys participate in YEAR-ROUND – even with the pandemic, my kids have been able to stay active with virtual classes through TLG at Home!
I’m big on this. I like to feel wanted and involved (I’m a bit needy that way), but I’m also not pushy or a go-getter when it comes to being included. From the minute I stepped foot into the gym, we were welcomed with open arms. The owner, Francie, routinely makes rounds of the waiting room greeting everyone by name and stopping to chat with parents and kiddos. Every time a family walks in the door the coaches yell a sincere hello, amazingly identifying each child by name (how they remember all those names I’ll never know). They’ve followed along with my two pregnancies, rooted for us during potty training, and celebrated my boys’ birthdays. And it’s not just the staff, we routinely run into the same families at the gym that we’ve seen since the beginning. Our kids know each other, and we’re able to chat a little.
My oldest son is, and always has been, incredibly active. Like, walking at 9 months, ran everywhere by the time he was 1, constantly climbing, dancing, and spinning. My second son, well, he likes to be just as active, but he just didn’t get the coordination or super baby strength of my older son. Little Gym has been perfect for both. My older son was able to explore the gym safely and learn how to control his body through play-based movements we worked on in our parent-child class, and later his own. My younger son was able to build strength and confidence, something that is HUGE for my attached little boy. He went from barely being willing to get on the balance-beam during our parent-child class, to just yesterday, climbing 3 feet up onto the raised beam by himself, walking to the end, and jumping off onto a soft floor mat (all under the watchful eye of his coach).
I also love the assortment of activities that are part of the classes, and how I can see a progression over the years. The kids get to participate in group activity on the big red mat – running together and doing other silly activities, playing with a parachute, discussing colors and names – as well as gross motor individual activities – learning how to properly forward roll, balance on a beam, engage upper body strength on the bars. And as they get older, they learn routines through obstacle courses at various stations throughout the room. A wonderful preparation for preschool! While I also think that individual sports are great, especially for older children, the Little Gym just makes sense to me as a foundation for all those other, more specialized activities. You must learn the alphabet before you can write a novel!
I’ve been going to the Little Gym weekly with my kids for a long time now. I’ve seen a lot of new faces show up for their first class and watched as they’ve became part of the LG family. A big part of the reason they stay, and frankly, one of the main reasons we stay, is the attention given to each child. Every single coach my children have had learns my kids’ personality, quirks, and ability and is given the necessary attention before, during, and after class time. They make a point of throwing praise towards a child who deserves it, of helping a kiddo who’s having a tough time, and of reassuring parents when their kiddo wanders off to explore instead of doing the group activity.
I recently had a baby, so there’s been a major shake up at my house shifting our schedule around. Before baby, my younger son was attending an early week, morning class, which worked great for us – get up, get out, start the week off with an activity! This is terrible with a new baby. But it’s ok, because the staff at LG were happy to shift us to a mid-week early afternoon class, which fits much better with our new normal. In fact, there are lots of options, for all age groups, making it a very accessible activity for all types of families and simple to fit into our ever more chaotic schedule.
Now, my poor oldest child, who’s been stuck inside with a screaming baby, whining toddler, and stressed mommy and daddy, was able to get his wiggles and giggles out twice during Christmas week at Little Gym winter break camps. I honestly think it saved our sanity. The same can be said for the Little Gym summer camps that he’s attended the past two years. Instead of committing to a week-long camp, which can be a bit much for little ones (and their parents), camps are offered two days a week for 3 hours, either in the morning or the afternoon, and you purchase them by the day. My older son has the best time, he gets 3 hours out of the house, and I can easily work them in around our other summer plans. Win. Win.
All About the Kids
Last, and this is probably the most important reason of all, my kids continue to have fun. In our 3.5 years of going to weekly Little Gym classes, my sons have decided they didn’t want to go maybe a handful of times, but that feels like an overestimation. Every week when I announce its Little Gym day the reply is “yay!!! Little Gym!!!”
It may seem extreme to drive 20 minutes (sometimes 30!) for my kids’ activity, but I honestly have never given it a second thought. It’s worth every minute in the car so long as my kids are happy and growing. I’d highly encourage you to take advantage of the Little Gym’s free first class so you can experience for yourself what I’ve outlined above. I promise, you won’t be disappointed, and maybe, like us, you’ll become lifers.
For more information on what The Little Gym Polaris has to offer, check out their website. You’ll see class descriptions, days, and times, as well as information about camps (seasonally), and their amazing birthday parties.