By Tom Momberg
A private gym for toddlers and kids has made its home in Bayside for the past year. Established under the Little Gym franchise by Tae Koo, who saw the benefit of physical activity and gymnastics with his own daughter, Caroline, The Little Gym of Bayside, 34-38 Bell Blvd., is a part of a franchise rooted in a youth-gym concept founded in 1976 by educator, musician and kinesiologist Robin Wes.
Koo opened his location last April after becoming familiar with the franchise, which seeks to promote motor skills among infants and toddlers, and to get older kids to be active and social.
“A friend of mine had opened one in Brooklyn Heights. Then, after my daughter was born and I started taking her, I started understanding not only the business model, but also the appeal,” Koo said. “As a parent, it makes a world of difference to see your kids having fun and learning new things.”
The Little Gym is a non-competitive gymnastics program for both boys and girls, which uses positive reinforcement to encourage children to grow up healthy and happy, as well as to develop social skills.
“I don’t think children really get enough exercise,” Koo said. “I know even with my daughter’s schedule, she only has gym class once a week at school. But it’s critical to a child’s development.”
The Little Gym and its instructors are certified by USA Gymnastics, but Koo said it is unlike most gymnastic programs.
“A lot of gymnastics tend to just focus on the star pupil—going to competitions and winning titles,” Koo said. “But this program is really just focused on children leading an active and healthy lifestyle, having them be collaborative with their classmates and help them develop some creative thinking.”
The Little Gym of Bayside offers three main programs.
The parent-child program, for children between the ages of four months and three years old, teaches families to play together and to have toddlers learn motor skills by experiencing movement.
The Pre-K/Kindergarten program gets kids between the ages of three and six years old to start developing social skills, in addition to being active.
The big kid program, for children between the ages of six and 12 years old, teaches more advanced skills.
Koo said he will soon be introducing music components into most of the programs in addition to a rock-and-roll music and movement class led by musician Bari Koral. He said music helps encourage kids to follow direction and keeps them engaged.
The spring session for all programs begins Feb. 1, and discounts for early enrollment are available up to a month before the season starts. But families can enroll at any time. Class prices are pro-rated based on how many classes kids can attend in a season.
Enrollment includes one class and one practice session every week during a season.
There is an annual membership fee of $55, and the full-season class price is $550 for most programs.
The Little Gym also offers a parents’ survival night once a month from 6 to 9 p.m. for $40, which includes day care and games so families can enjoy a night out without kids.
For more information, visit https://www.theli
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb