As you know, when we go looking for website sponsors, we always lean toward the ones we have personal experience with and the ones we know fellow moms would love. The sponsor we’re introducing today — The Little Gym of Rogers — falls into both of those categories: I use it and love it!
My 3-year-old daughter Kate has been taking gymnastics lessons at The Little Gym since she was 2. Back then I desperately needed a place where she could use up some of her crazy climbing energy and do it in a safe place. The fact that she’s actually learning gymnastics at the same time is a huge bonus. I’m enrolling her in a Little Gym dance class this fall, too! (The Little Gym also offers karate, sports skills development, birthday party packages and “Parent Survival Nights.” Click here to read more about those options. Classes are enrolling now!)
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you Kate ADORES this place. So many of her conversations include descriptions of all the things she does at The Little Gym. I sit outside the gym and watch her through the glass wall, and I can’t believe all the things she has learned in less than a year’s time. The teachers are amazing, and the kids just love them.
Below is a short interview with Melanie Shannon, who owns The Little Gym of Rogers. She knows tons of Northwest Arkansas moms, and she’s about to become one! She’s expecting her first baby this year (a baby boy!) and I along with tons of other Little Gym moms are giving her way more advice than she’ll ever need or want. 🙂
If you’re the mom of a Little Gym student, please click the comment button at the bottom of this post and add your own thoughts about the classes and teachers there!
What made you want to open a Little Gym franchise in Northwest Arkansas?
I first heard about The Little Gym from my sister. My niece, Lily, attended classes in her home town and every time I visited, she was doing something different. I would ask my sister where Lily learned her new trick, and she always said The Little Gym. I was looking to get out of Information Technology and corporate America, so I looked into the franchise. I had always wanted to work with children and help make a difference in their lives, but didn’t have the college background to teach school. I fell in love with The Little Gym’s philosophies specifically the concept of growing skills by building kid’s confidence, and I just knew it was the right company for me. Since attending college at the U of A, I wanted to come back to Northwest Arkansas and when I found The Little Gym, I thought this area would be a great match.
What do you think makes The Little Gym different from other places that offer gymnastics and dance lessons? How do these classes help kids develop?
The Little Gym is a completely different atmosphere than many places. You will notice a lot of differences when you walk through the front door. A few of the most important differences can’t be seen immediately; however, you will definitely notice them as you attend classes. We teach all of our children through positive reinforcement. If a child doesn’t point their toes, but their legs were straight, we will tell them we loved the way they kept their legs straight and the next time they do the skill, we will work on pointing their toes. We feel that children learn more effectively in a fun, positive environment. At the end of the day, if each child leaves The Little Gym with a smile on their face proud of what they’ve accomplished that day, we have helped make a positive difference in that child’s life and our day has been a success.
How do your teachers keep kids from getting bored while they learn the fundamentals of gymnastics or dance?
Creativity plays a huge part in The Little Gym’s curriculum. We have different fun themes that keep the children engaged in the lesson such as Dinosaurs, Pirates, Prince and Princess week. We change the gym around each week, so it is a new experience for the children each time they come to the gym. Most importantly, we divide our children into small groups and teach our stations in obstacle course formats. Therefore, the children don’t spend time waiting in lines. The teacher will work in the station at the Skill of Focus and help build each child’s skills on an individual level while the other students have fun practicing independent skills all around the obstacle course.
What’s your favorite part about running The Little Gym?
That’s a hard question. There are so many things I love about being a part of The Little Gym; however, I think if I had to pick just one, it would definitely working with the children and seeing them grow each week. When they do a skill for the first time, you are so proud of them and they are proud of themselves. They look at you with a new confidence in their eyes and a huge smile on their face and say, “I did it!!!” My heart melts every time. 🙂
We hear that you’re expecting your first baby! What are you looking forward to the most? Will your son grow up tumbling in The Little Gym, too?
Yes, we are looking forward to our son’s arrival in December. I have always wanted to be a mom; however, having worked at The Little Gym with so many wonderful families, I have a whole new respect for moms. I’ve learned so much about children over the last two years being at gym. I always tell my instructors that working at The Little Gym will not be the easiest job you’ve ever had, but it will by far be the most rewarding. Having my own son will take that statement to a whole new level. I think being a mom is absolutely the hardest work you will ever do, but the rewards are endless.
My son will definitely be involved in the classes at The Little Gym. I think the motor skills they learn from an early age are extremely important, so he will start at 4 months in the “Bugs class” and grow from there. 🙂
Help us welcome The Little Gym of Rogers as a new nwaMotherlode.com sponsor!