Leo has been attending The Little Gym York for about 3 months now. I had been interested in joining The Little Gym for a while but wanted to wait until Leo was a bit older. This is because I was put off by another class that I had attended where Leo was unable to sit unaided and I was really uncomfortable. This was caused by the back issues I had but is getting better thanks to my chiropractor.
I regret waiting now! The first class (known as ‘Bugs’) is for babies between 4-months and 10-months. There have been some 4-month-old babies there and the skills that we learn all have many variations so they be done by small babies up to babies who can crawl!
Leo was just about to turn 10 months when I first joined and I wasn’t sure which class to put him in because he wasn’t crawling. After speaking to someone from The Little Gym on the phone, she explained to me that the Bugs class would be better as even though it says to 10 months, that’s just a guide and as Leo isn’t crawling, he should be in Bugs until he is a strong and confident crawler.
So off to Bugs we went. I paid over the phone and booked a class for the next day!
The Little Gym York
The Little Gym York is in the new York Community Stadium Leisure Complex. It’s on the second floor and as soon as I stepped into The Little Gym, I knew I had made the right choice.
Going to a baby class on your own can be quite daunting. Well, going anywhere on your own can be quite daunting. You’ve got to get yourself ready, a baby ready and remember to bring many things for every eventuality (I’ve never needed to change Leo’s nappy but take his full changing bag, snacks, a change of clothes..). Then you have to figure out the logistics on the other side with a pram! You worry about getting there on time and what mood your baby might be in. It can feel a lot!
But as soon as I walked in, one of the gym teachers said ‘is it Leo?’ and came over to introduce herself and one of the other teachers. They told me a bit about the gym and what we needed to do. I’ve seen them do that to other new members, too. I think it’s brilliant that they know when someone new is arriving and make the effort to say hello as I know some parents can be really scared to come on their own with a baby.
I think I had low expectations about how The Little Gym would be. I thought it would just be a little baby gym with some soft play equipment. I think this is because I’ve been to a few baby classes where it’s just a few mats on the floor in a community hall. But the Little Gym in York is brand new, bright and kitted out!
You walk into a ‘cloak’ area which has plenty of storage for your belongings and to leave your pram. There’s seating to get yourself ready (well, take your shoes off!). You have to be buzzed in so it’s safe to leave your things there. It’s all open plan and the door is opposite the reception desk. There’s also a toilet and a kitchen area with high chairs. You can have tea or coffee (and mince pies at Christmas).
There’s a couple of sofas and soft mats to sit on while you wait for your gym session to start. Then the gym is behind glass walls and doors. There are a few chairs there so other parents or family members can view the gym session.
The gym itself consists of a large floor mat and gym equipment such as a tumble track, springboards, a beam on the floor, a high beam, rings, bars and plenty of large soft blocks. I didn’t really expect the gym to be so well equipped but the gym runs class and workshops up the age of 12 so it’s fully equipped to give a child a great basis for gymnastics! There are also other smaller props that they bring out of activities.
Bugs Class Structure
The classes are 45 minutes long and they start with a song with some bells that each child shakes as we sing. We then go around and share our child’s name. Sometimes we share ages or something they’ve just started doing – it depends on the size of the class really.
Next, we do some activities in a circle on the mat. These can be things like arm stretches, some backwards rolls, and various other skills. Then we also do something with a prop, like a big parachute that we all sit around and move up and down or let the babies sit under it while we let it float over them.
Every time we do an activity, the teacher speaks to us about what benefit this has for the baby.
It’s fine to let the babies crawl about, Leo is always going up to others and they have a little chat. I just keep an eye on him near the younger babies and get ready to stop him if he tries to grab them. Like any baby class, just do what you need to do if you need to feed them or take them out to change a nappy. There’s even been times when the younger ones have fallen to sleep. There is freedom to move about as long as this is done safely.
After this, we go and explore the gym. This is when we are free to take our babies on the equipement. Every week they switch the equipment around a little bit. So there can be little obstical courses, sensory scarves and bells tied to things, sicks and shakers to play with.
Every so often, the teacher will say ‘FREEZE EVERYONE’ and then show us a skill. There’s usually two skills each class and these things like rotating our baby over a bar (teacher assisted) and helping them improve grip strength, or doing rolls down the big soft wedges.
The teachers pick babies to use as an example and always describes variations for the younger babies and those who can move around on their own. This is always fun as it’s great to see the teacher do a move with your baby as you get to see their response to it.
At the end, we finish by playing with sensory balls and then the bubbles come out. Before you know it, the 45 minutes is up!
Then you can stay for a tea or coffee if you like. I usually go to the desk to book my next session and then go.
Leo loves it. It’s like a massive sensory experience for him and he gets to explore and be around other babies.
As Leo is a confident crawler now, he’ll be moving up tot he next class in a few weeks.
What do I need to wear for The Little Gym
Wear something comfortable. I usually wear leggings or jeans with a tee, sometimes we do movements where we have the baby on our legs and rock back and forth so comfort is key. Leo just wears leggings or joggers and a top. Parents wear socks in the gym while the little ones need to be barefoot.
How much does Little Gym cost?
I pay £100 for a block of 10 sessions, so it works out at £10 a class. These need to be used up within 4 months. You are free to book more than one class a week or take breaks when needed. You can also cancel and get your session back if you give enough notice (mine is by 9:30 am for my 11 am session).
I am not sure if the older classes differ in price, as they are longer. There’s also a monthly membership for £62 (at the time of writing this) a month, where you can attend more classes. This would be worth it you planned to go more than once a week.
What’s next for us and The Little Gym?
Well, Leo is moving up to Birds soon! He’s a confident crawler now and always wants to explore. He’s done so well in these classes! The teachers will let you know when your baby is ready to move up and this does depend on each child. There was an 8 month old baby was was an amazing crawler and she moved up a few weeks ago. Leo has just turned 1 and is just about to move up. The age doesn’t really matter, it’s all about matching the class to their current ability so they can get the most out of it.
The Little Gym is my favourite class, I hope we can do it for a long time, I will continue to take Leo as long as he enjoys it. He’s still very young so if he decides he wants to try other activities, that’s okay too.
We also do Waterbabies, a baby sign language class and we have also tried a Moo Music class which wasn’t for us (I think the covid restrictions made it hard to find the class interactive)
I hope you found my review of Little Gym York helpful. If you are interested in going with your child, the it’s worth following their Instagram page as they often have offers on to attract new members. There are many gyms around the UK, so if you are not from York, then have a look to see if there is one near you.