Saturday, May 31, 2014

Free Baby Classes: Gymboree, My Gym and others

When our little boy was about 1 month old, I began looking for things to do with him. I had started getting stir-crazy just sitting at home all day. With no plans to return to the workforce anytime in the near future, I needed some reason to get out of the house. And though I would love to go shopping every day, I'm not one to just "window" shop - I always end up getting something. And that's no way to stick to a budget.

I found that some gyms and centers offer infant classes. Most of these classes advertise enhanced development and support of babies' growth - mainly through sensory stimulation. Lots of music and colors and sounds. The class we attend always does 5 minutes of tummy time and a new focus every 2 weeks. (The first 2 weeks were beach balls, and the next 2 weeks were blankets). Some programs involve American Sign Language, yoga, rides and swings, bubbles and some give an informative handout to parents every week.

Tummy time! They always use the rain stick to get babies' attention and practice tracking.

We've been going to class 3 days a week for nearly 4 weeks now - and it's amazing to watch baby boy's growth and advancement over the course of that time. The first day, he was a bit fussy and soooo little - the youngest in the class.
Bouncing on the beach ball. It was our first class, so he was a little unsure...

But now, he hardly fusses and he gets excited during certain parts - especially the end when we sing "Rainbow Parachute Sky" and we lift the parachute over the babies. If he starts fussing, usually a familiar song will get him quiet. It helps that I make sure to sing every song we've learned at least once a day. They're fun and short and there are cute little moves for all of them. Most of them are by the group Parachute Express - from the 80s and 90s! Our favorite is probably "When I Build My House" - and at certain lines we either cross his arms (sawing) or clap our hands (laying bricks) or tap on his foot (hammering nails) or rub his body (painting).

Happy at Gymboree!
The Gymbo song at the end!

His classes are the highlights of my week - and I know my husband immensely enjoys them as well (which actually surprised me! Before our boy was born, he was never a big fa of singing and dancing and theatrics). I highly recommend at least taking a free class at a gym that offers an infant class near you! Though we are already signed up at one gym, I am interested in taking the free introductory class at other gyms - seeing what those are like in comparison to Gymboree's class.

Here's a list of the programs I have found that offer infant classes as well as a free introductory class. Gotta be able to try it out before you sign up! :) And everyone likes free things!

Gymboree Play & Music  has Play and Learn classes for kids from 0-36 months. We are currently enrolled in the Level 1 class - for babies between 0 and 6 months. We sing a lot of songs - most of which involve different movements or corresponding sounds - and always play with the big rainbow parachute and blow bubbles. They offer a free class to first-time guests. There is a box on the left that you can click to print your free class voucher! We did the free first class when Baby G was 6 weeks old and really enjoyed it! We chose to sign up for classes after that - we got a good deal at our Gym: 3 classes each week for only $85/month. (But once he enters Level 2, it goes down to only 1 class a week for the same price). Even if you choose not to enroll after your free class, you can still take the songs and games you learned and play them every day with your little one. Baby G already seems to recognize certain songs and will get excited or quiet and attentive during them.

My Gym also offers a free first class at most locations. To sign up, first search for a location near you, then go to that location's page. There should be a box that mentions trying a class! My Gym has classes for babies as young as 6 weeks and classes for kids up to 13 years old.

The Little Gym offers Parent/Child classes for kids from ages 4 months - 3 years. The youngest group in this category (4-10 months) are called "Bugs." How cute! Then for kids from 3 years old to 12 years old, there are Gymnastics, Karate, Dance, and Sport Skills classes. Participating locations of The Little Gym offer a free introductory class.

Romp n' Roll (available mainly in and around Virginia) has classes for kids ages 3 months to 5 years. Their Mommy and Me classes are for babies 3-12 months and in each class, they introduce a new sign from American Sign Language, introduce a weekly topic with a story and also include some baby yoga. (Right now, I'm wishing I lived in Virginia!) Romp n' Roll also offers a free introductory class.

Are there any other baby/toddler gyms that offer a free introductory class?
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