As nursery and schools start again for the new academic year, I am determined to ditch the soft play areas and do something more constructive with my little ones in the afternoons. But it’s still so HOT. So what can we do? The parks aren’t really an option yet and whilst my eldest does ballet once a week, I need a new activity to help her burn some energy. Well thanks to our good friends at Baby Bazaar, I heard that there was a lovely gymnastic toddler class called Gymnast-Ex near my house, so I was eager to find out more.
Situated in the Sports Hall of the Model Girls School, not far from Safa Park, Gymnast-Ex was founded by Egyptian ex-national gymnast, Khaled Wagdy. Together with his team of around 10 coaches, he offers classes to students aged 2.5 to 52 years old. The classes follow the American curriculum and aim to develop strength, balance, flexibility and motor skills using the most advanced gymnastic equipment (mostly from Janssen Fritsen). The baby class is designed to work your child’s body to help them with flexibility and coordination, with the add-on benefit that your little one will expel lots of energy whilst enjoying them too. It’s really advantageous to start them young, as this is when the bones are malleable and not stiff yet. As the child gets older, they begin to experience much more, such as an introduction to rhythmic gymnastics, artistic work, tumbling and trampolining.
On entering the gym, I was actually quite surprised by the space available. There were students of all ages and there was lots of equipment on show. The room is a sports hall, so nothing flashy, but it is well set up and it was great to see a variety of apparatus. The instructor explained that the baby session started two years ago and was becoming more popular each term for its fun yet productive classes. He took us to the obstacle course and the half an hour class began…
The obstacle course offered a fun and energetic warm up for the kids. I felt exhausted just watching them. The kids ran up and down different sized mats assisted by the staff, running and jumping over the obstacles and performing forward rolls. They climbed up ladders (vertically and horizontally) and jumped on mini trampolines. After a good 10 minute session, they moved on. The next activity was a line of hoops that they jumped through, followed by running and crab races. I was quite surprised at how fast the kids were and how well coordinated they seemed, especially my little girl, who I have never seen do these activities (proud mummy!). The session finished with flexibility exercises where the instructors taught the children to do different moves with their bodies. They even managed to do the splits!
At the end of the half an hour session (and a few happy high fives round the group), I was told that my daughter was actually quite advanced in gymnastics and could probably cope with the Foundation Level, which is an hour-long class. I was happy to hear this and we made a plan to continue with half an hour for 1 term and then look to moving up for term 2.
Gymnastics is a fantastic activity for your child, whether you have a girl or a boy, and Gymnast-Ex offers a great facility and trained, friendly coaches. They recommend you attend the classes a few times a week and we shall definitely be returning. What I liked even more about this program is that they do not make you commit to a specific day which is great for hectic mamas who need more flexible timetables… So for those of you in need for new fun activities for your babe, this one may be a good one to try, and well mamas, if nothing else, it certainly tires them out!
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