Our daughter Elanor began taking classes at The Little Gym in the US when she was one year old. When we moved to Singapore six months later, I immediately enrolled Elanor in a class at The Little Gym of Singapore to provide her with a familiar environment. Five years and more than 200 classes later, Elanor is still a deeply enthusiastic member of The Little Gym.
“When people ask me what I do I always say ‘I help kids learn the skills they need to be successful in life’” says Richie Villarin, Gym Director of The Little Gym Singapore. The Little Gym motto is Motor Skills made fun builds confidence that leads to a lifetime of success. Swinging on the uneven parallel bars becomes a story about a monkey looking for a banana. Circle time for the little ones includes a moment for each child to be introduced and for them to hit a tambourine. And classes end with the ever-popular bubbles. Children go from walking on the beam with an extra tool that widens it while holding a hand, to doing front support mounts and learning how to do cartwheels on the beam.
Program Director Amy Nora says “The program is taught in such a way that it includes everyone (not just those who are good at gymnastics or good at listening or following directions) and excludes no one.” Once the youngest students have learned to crawl and walk, they rarely stay in circle time, and the teachers understand that developmentally, that’s where they are and aren’t fazed by it. If a 3-year-old wants no part of trying one of the skills of the week, that’s okay. As the children get older, the teachers begin to expect more in terms of staying on task and participation, but never at the expense of fun.
Parents of Little Gym students will tell you many positive things about the gym but the subject that comes up the most is how much we, as parents, love the teaching staff.
“The teachers have brought out the gymnasts in the children without any tears,” says satisfied mama Karen Ang.
Parent/Child classes are 45 minutes, and independent classes are one hour (with the exception of the Wonderkids Club, which is a 3-hour class). Classes begin with circle time and songs, a theme of the week through which children learn or continue to work on specific skills, independent time, and the class finishes with circle time and songs. Elanor (age 6) says her favourite part of class is playing games like hide and go seek, while her classmates Ganel (age 7) and Audrey (age 6) love the uneven parallel bars best.
You’ll find families from Singapore and expats from around the globe in class; Elanor’s three closest friends at the gym hail from Singapore, the US and India. During the week you’ll mostly run into other moms and helpers, but on weekends dads are well represented in class. My husband Ravi enjoyed taking parent/child classes with both our daughters and was never the only dad in the room. He’s sad our younger daughter has now graduated to solo classes.
The Little Gym boasts over 300 studios worldwide, and Singapore has two: The Little Gym West at Forum Shopping Mall and The Little Gym East at Marina Square Shopping Mall. They offer parent/child gymnastics classes from four months old through three years of age, and drop-off gymnastics classes from ages 3-12 (including two levels of advanced classes by invitation). Students age 4-6 also can enroll in Chopsticks (martial arts/gymnastics), Cracker Jacks (sports skills/gymnastics) and Hip Hoppers (gymnastics/hip hope dance). Pre-K aged students (3-4 years old) can join The Wonderkids Club, which takes place Wednesday to Friday from 9am-noon at Marina Square.
The schedule follows the Singapore Public School calendar. During the month of June they’re offering a four week mini-term of classes and camps. Camps are one day activities comprised of gym time, a snack, and an art project (1.5 hours for kids under three with a caregiver, 2 hours for children three and older). Camps are available at member and non-member rates. For more info make sure to contact or drop by one of The Little Gym’s two locations!
The Little Gym, FORUM The Shopping Mall, #B1-24, 583 Orchard Road, Singapore 238884, Tel: (+65) 6238 6331 and Marina Square, #03-163/164, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039594, Tel: (+65) 6336 9734