I trekked over to the Upper West Side the other day for our dads groups’ latest adventure at The Little Gym. The thirty-five minute brisk walk through Central Park on one of the nicest days in recent memory was invigorating. My son Jake had just awoke from his nap and he was fired up and ready for action! As usual, I was excited to get together with the dads.
The Little Gym was not what I expected. This place was a true gymnasium with parallel bars, uneven bars, a balance beam (extra-wide for the tots to be able to balance), and mats everywhere for tumbling, rolling, and jumping. I especially liked that most gym stations had mats in the form of ramps so our children were able to reach the equipment. We arrived about ten minutes late to the class (par for the course in the at-home parent world), but because this class lasts a full hour (most other venues are only 45 minutes), we hit the ground running and did not miss a beat. There were a lot of proud dad moments shared at this event: my son tucking in his chin as he rolled down the mat in a somersault, doing an attempted pike position on the parallel bars, and balancing on the different mats. Equally important to a positive experience at a children’s venue is the staff – The two staff members were friendly and supportive, providing the class with structure when it was needed, but also letting the kids do what they wanted at the same time.
Even though there were 17 of us dads with our kids in this inviting and open space, it never felt crowded! One dad stated that “if I had a giant house with a huge basement (which I don’t because I live in NYC), I would want to turn it into a LITTLE GYM for my son.” A few other positive things to report: the door into the gymnasium has a handle that was extra-high so none of our tots were able to escape (a real asset to me who has a son obsessed with figuring out how to escape through any door), the gym has a tremendous entry room with plenty of seating and tables so you can feed your child before/after class, an abundance of mats and padded carpeting make you feel that any falls in this place will not result in an injury! The only negative: the gym is located on the second floor – with only one elevator that is smallish and moves slowly, be prepared to wait a few minutes.
Fortunately, a few of the dads did not have to rush home after the class, so we ventured to a playground in Central Park. As our posse strolled down 74th Street, Martin suggested we take a cookie break for “the best cookie we will ever eat in NYC.” It’s tough to argue with that. Asking price was $4 per cookie – I thought it was a joke. As Martin volunteered to collect the money from each dad to head down the stairs to make the purchase at Levain Bakery, we honestly thought there was a back door for him to take the money and run. Consequently, he came out smiling with “ginormous” cookies that were as thick as scones and were as amazing as they looked.
Strolling into Central Park with six other dads, on this ten-day, and my stomach full with delicious cookie, I knew that being an home dad was the greatest job in the world!
*Disclosure Note: The Little Gym is a sponsor of NYC Dads Group