There are some pretty amazing gym programs for kids these days, but one thing many have in common is that you need to enrol (and pay) for an entire term. As anyone who has ever had a toddler will know, kids are unpredictable, and what they love one week, they will cry and scream about the next. One week they are sick, and the next you just can't be bothered leaving the house. Term memberships are expensive and often wasted.
The fact that Toddlergym at the Subiaco PCYC is casual appeals to my motherly instinct that my two year old is fickle, and that sometimes so am I. With multiple sessions running each week, catering to different age groups, it is easy to find something to suit – but it won't cost you if you decide to stay home.
Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there are two sessions, with the early one (9.30am-10.15am) generally catering to younger children, and the later one (10.30am-11.15am) catering to older kids.
The early session at Toddlergym is mostly unstructured play, with the kids given free run of the large indoor gymnastics area at the Subiaco centre. The majority of the floor is padded or sprung, making falls a non-issue – mostly. Since it is a fully equipped gym, in addition to the multitude of toddler-friendly climbing cubes, balls and rockers there is also parallel bars, beams, rings and all of these come with metal fixings and frames that aren't padded. You don't need to wrap your child up in cotton wool, you just need to pay attention.
Each week a large obstacle course is set up around the perimeter of the mat, made of large padded shapes. Balls, hoola hoops, building blocks and musical instruments are available for random playing. Mats in front of the stereo provide a fun play to dance (or spin and fall over), rockers grace the far end of the room, and the trampoline offers fun for kids (and heart attacks for parents).
The kids get to play under and on top of the massive parachute
Towards the end of the session, play becomes more structured with a large parachute coming out, and a few songs and dances indicate the end of the class. Later classes with the older kids tend to be a bit more structured.
While the gym is generous, the equipment is well maintained and clean, and the staff friendly, the overall space at the PCYC is a bit tired. There are baby change facilities in the toilets as well as a small, covered area outside with a picnic table if you want to have a snack before or after class. There is a free carpark immediately outside the PCYC but it can become a nightmare to get in or out in between the two sessions, so nearby street parking might be a solution.
While the early session is advertised as being for one to two and a half year olds and the second session for two and a half year olds to four year olds, there are always younger kids in the older session and vice versa. As the weather deteriorates into winter, and parents look for indoor activities for their little ones, expect the classes to get busier and fuller.
Regardless, it is a wonderful class for kids and parents. At the very reasonable price of $9 a session (even less if you become an annual member) you can come as often or as little as life allows.
Sure, the music is the same every week (Disney soundtracks) but the kids thrive on predictability and most parents can be seen humming along to their favourite tune. Or is that just me?
Unlike other programs, kids are not forced to participate in group activities, so if you have a little loner who loves to do their own thing, they will be just at home as the social butterfly who makes new friends every week. The parents, grandparents and carers are friendly and willing to chat, but you can just as easily drift in and out without much more than a smile.
Classes run during school term only, although occasional classes do spring up during holidays. If in doubt email to find out if there when the next class is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Classes run six times a week and are $9 per child for casual entry. However, for an annual fee of $15 you can become a PCYC member which entitles you to $6 entry for the first child, and $5 for siblings until the end of the year (these prices valid for 2014 only).
It is very easy to make up the cost of the membership, even if life (and toddlers) interferes.
No, this week we will just sit outside, eat snacks and watch everyone else