Looking for an active morning for your energetic toddler? The Little Gym has a perfect spot for you. Meher Fatma visits their toddler class and speaks to some mamas about what makes these classes so special.
It's a warm Thursday morning, and a brightly lit room in the quiet neighbourhood of Zuid is bustling with giggles and joyful squeals. An enthusiastic bunch of 2-year-olds is busy hopping, jumping, scooting, and making their first attempts at a handstand.
The parent-child class at The Little Gym Amsterdam focuses on children between 19 months and 2 ½ years. The weekly session playfully named Beasts, runs for 45 minutes and has a cool line-up of activities for toddlers -- helping them develop physically and socially.
Class begins with a welcome song, followed by specific activities during free play (with plenty of visual cues to keep them engaged). The catchy music is specially designed for The Little Gym by its founder Robin Wes and the curriculum director Randy McCoy.
One happy mama of a 2-year-old tells us that their weekly session at The Little Gym is by far her toddler's favourite compared to other programs that her daughter attends. "My daughter recognises this place and enthusiastically looks forward to the class. The best part since we joined the gym has been my toddler's involvement at tidying up her rooms. Every time I ask her to join me in clearing up the floor and putting away the toys, she willingly joins in and sings The Little Gym song while doing so!" says Janina Temmen.
For 9-month-old Hikaru, The Little Gym was the perfect activity. "I was bringing Hikaru's elder brother to the gym for the last few years and I was very happy with their facilities. When it was time for my younger one to join some activity, we secured a spot for him here. There is never a dull moment around Hikaru. He has a lot of energy to burn and he thoroughly enjoys this weekly visit here," his mother Anna Seo says.
Learning Through Play
The Little Gym incorporates age-appropriate gymnastics into each class to increase strength, flexibility, and coordination. The room is bursting with colours. There are hoops, blocks, soft sticks, balance beams, and parallel bars and enough room to toddlers to test their motor skills.
"There is a visible difference in my little one's physical activities since we joined the parent and child classes," says Maartje Verhoeff, whose children have been a regular at The Little Gym. "My younger child Jack was not going to a daycare, and I felt interaction with peers was important. When I registered for the classes here, my 2-and-a-half-year-old hated the idea of me interacting with other mums and children," she adds. "But his social skills tremendously improved after a few classes. And our visits to the playgrounds have become more fun now. He is confident and willingly attempts chin-up bars and overhead ladders."
"Parents are role models to their children and it shows the little ones that being a part of a group is okay and fun. In the last parent-child age group, Super Beasts, we start to introduce more activities and encourage the children to follow the instructors. This helps in preparing them for the Funny Bugs, for children who are 3 years and more," informs Annemiek Joosten, The Gym Director at The Little Gym Amsterdam.
During the class, the children are offered simple choices. For example, the trainer would ask them to choose between playing with colourful balls or chasing bubbles. Through these mini challenges, the class attempts to inculcate a sense of independence in these tiny-gymnasts and gently pushes them to accept newer challenges. This also readies the children for preschool and kindergarten.
My child is more aware of her body and understands the concept of personal space and sharing.
Every three or four weeks a new learning unit is introduced in the class. Currently, the class revolves around 'social-ME-dia', offering the little ones an insight in how their actions affect those of others. Soon the class will learn about colours and shades through 'Watch the colours run' and the trainers will scoop out gym items like cheese mats and donuts (a big round foam with a hole) and put on some fun colour-related music.
"I've attended many activity classes with my toddler, but The Little Gym has worked like a charm. This was the first class that my daughter enjoyed so much. I really appreciate the way the trainers slip in a lot of educative stuff through the instructions and activities. My child is more aware of her body and understands the concept of personal space and sharing," says Ninja Andritter-Witt. "I am an expat and I like to visit my family back in Germany. The make-up classes give me enough flexibility to reschedule a class if I end up missing the classes due to travel," she adds.
A Place for Parents Too
The international group of mothers (and fathers) who have been bringing their children to these classes feel comforted in the company of other parents who are tackling similar problems.
Marta Mihalyka, a mother of two, was looking for some nice English-based activity classes for her girls when she came across The Little Gym. "My older daughter was missing home and she took a lot time settling in. The trainers were extremely patient with her but as she always wanted to be with me. In some ways, it was comforting for me to see that there were other mums who were facing similar issues," says Marta. "I soon decided to bring my younger child to these classes too. It was September and winter was fast approaching. I needed something for my 18-month-old, who had already converted our living room into her private gym. The Little Gym worked perfectly for her from the start," she further explains. Her elder daughter now also enjoys her weekly visit to the gym after school.
For parents of small children, there are always a lot of notes to exchange and these classes give enough opportunity to do so. Especially for first-time mums and dads, it is heart warming to see other parents dealing with situations much similar to theirs. "We are always so happy to see playdates sprouting from these classes," adds Annemiek.
The busy morning at The Little Gym brings in a lot of cheer. Soon the 45-minutes class comes to an end. The parents and children sit in a circle and sing their goodbyes and looking forward to the next week when the fun continues!
There are four classes for the youngest members at The Little Gym:
Bugs: infants, 4 to 10 months
Birds: infants/toddlers, 10 to 19 months
Beasts: toddlers, 19 months to 2½ years
Super Beasts: toddlers, 2½ years to 3 years
Looking for an active morning for your toddler? Write to email@example.com or call 020-4040798 and book your free trial class now! For older kids, check out their theme-based summer camps. These half and full day camps offer cool activities for children between 3 and 12 years.
Disclaimer: The Little Gym has paid to be featured on Amsterdam Mamas because they believe that their services would be of interest and benefit to our readers, and we think so too. For more information on sponsored posts and advertising on Amsterdam Mamas, please see our Advertising and Disclosure policy.
Meher Fatma is a full-time mom and a freelance writer. Passionate about DIY projects, she loves putting her crafty ideas to use at Button Balloons, an online party shop that she co-owns.
Image provided by The Little Gym Amsterdam