Finding somewhere stimulating for the kids to let off steam can be a challenge but Fatin al Zadjali discovers a den with a difference.
Sometimes when your kids’ inexhaustible supplies of energy become too much to bear, finding ways to tire them out can be equally exhausting.
And these days, the pressure on parents to provide a distraction from digital devices can be equally frustrating.
However, at The Little Gym, there is an option that can keep the kids entertained while delivering some much-needed down time for mums and dads.
The Little Gym, in Azaiaba, is a fitness centre geared towards infants and children up to the age of 12.
It offers non-competitive classes in gymnastics, dance, karate and kindermusic, with a mission to create a positive learning environment for children.
The Little Gym is managed by sisters Nashia and Natasha Yahya Nasib, and is a franchise of Little Gym International, which was founded in 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona, in the US.
The sisters set it up this year after becoming frustrated with trying to find places where their children could socialise in a recreational but educational way, and without recourse to technology.
Over the years, the sisters had worked on projects in Oman such as Mommy & Me, a two-day, mother-and-child roadshow that celebrates motherhood. It offers advice on child healthcare while highlighting the importance of education.
Through the event’s success, the sisters founded their franchise of The Little Gym, which opened its doors in the summer of this year, and can be found in the Suqoon Building in Azaiba.
It’s a brightly lit environment and its walls ablaze with bright colours. The gym is replete with state-of-the-art equipment such as a padded acrobatic floor, beams, trampolines and recreational parallel bars.
Staff members are experts in competitive gymnastics, and their bubbling energy is infectious.
The positive ambience as you walk in is palpable as you see toddlers preparing for their morning stretch.
Parents can view classes through glass windows or event take part in some.
A “Birds” session is one in which parents help to channel the excitement of wobbling toddlers on the trampoline.
Kindermusic, a step-to-step guide that instructs the child on every direction they should move through sound and play, is used by the instructors.
Marcia, a dance teacher, says: “The gym slogan is Serious Fun. Children come in to have fun and build their motor skills.” Before every session, the instructors study a detailed lesson plan, which follows the international curriculum in achieving acrobatic techniques.
In the coming spring, the gym will be starting its intermediate gymnastic programme, and karate.
Some of the specialities on offer are theme-based courses such as Defying Gravity, Super Powers and Kid Summer and Winter Camps.
According to Natasha, the market for child entertainment in Muscat has risen and has become a competitive one. However, it’s a healthy competition that is shared among businesses.
She says: “The country’s economy should get a boost with SMEs providing options for parents and caretakers around Oman.
“This business is a starting point, and hopefully we can inspire many others to set up business ventures that we believe our country is lacking.”
Judging from the smiles on some of these kids’ faces, it’s a project that’s clearly working.
The Little Gym looks such seriously good fun that even I, as a young adult, am sorely tempted to join in!
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