First Gymnastics Class

Samantha and Amelia are pretty adept at climbing anything, whether it be the couches at home or the jungle gym at the park. Their general philosophy is that if it’s there, they can climb it.

Blatantly ignoring the sign that reads “For children 4-years-old and up, Samantha scaled the chain ladder with minimal effort.

C’mon, sis! I’ll help you!

Samantha and Amelia both love swinging and crawling all over the PVC pipe jungle gym at home and due to their high-energy personalities, I decided to sign them up for a gymnastics class at a local children’s activity gym. The class I signed them up for consisted of combined age groups, the 14-18 month group, appropriately-named “Waddlers,” and the kids 18 months through 2 years, the “Gymsters.”

Although the lady on the phone assured me that they have other clients with twins and even triplets who come by themselves, I took Jake with me to our first class because I was way to chicken to go solo on the first run. For future reference, this was a great decision.

Upon arrival, the teachers told us that the Waddlers (seriously, could there ever be a more apt name?) had about ten minutes of free time before class officially began. Samantha and Amelia made a beeline for the play structure, which had the added bonus of being completely padded underneath. Not that Samantha and Amelia ever fall anyway. They’re pretty talented đŸ™‚

 

Amelia was all-in from the get-go, but it took a little time for Samantha to warm up to the new environment. She spent at least twenty minutes of our class time on the sidelines with Daddy soaking it all in whilst eating a snack or getting a drink of water.

 

These blurry cell phone photos are, unfortunately, the only photo evidence I have from Samantha and Amelia’s first gym class. I was too busy struggling to keep Amelia still in my lap during singing time and playing referee when Samantha kept taking toys from the other kids to whip out my phone, so a picture-less travelogue will have to suffice.

Let’s just say the class involved a lot of LOUD music, a few structured “circle group” activities, “tumbling” exercises, a puppet show, and a couple of very high-energy gym teachers who spoke in obnoxiously enthusiastic tones the ENTIRE time. I honestly don’t know how they do it day in and day out. Don’t their cheeks hurt from all that smiling?

After free time, one of our annoyingly happy teachers, Mr. Ryan, excitedly asked shouted exuberantly at the top of his lungs for all the Waddlers and Gymsters to gather in a circle where we introduced everyone, sang some hello songs and did some stretches to warm up. It was a struggle keeping Amelia and Samantha engaged and sitting in our laps for the 15-minute warm up (which I thought went on way too long) but I think it’s good for them to start learning how to participate in group activities. I also don’t blame them for getting restless and rolling their eyes after being forced to wave and smile, singing “Welcome, Savannah…Welcome, ____________!” for the fifteenth time. However, I must admit that doing the stretches felt nice. Jake agreed!

Then, Mr. Ryan and Ms. Stacy divided the kids up and had them rotate practicing tumbling exercises, somersaults, bouncing on a trampoline, swinging from the high bars, ziplining, and swinging in little cars attached to rings hanging from the ceiling. If I were a toddler, I would have thought it was the best thing ever!

While they seemed to have fun, the girls weren’t overly enthusiastic about anything. I think Jake and I wanted to try out the zipline more than they did. With the LOUD music constantly blasting, all the bright colors, Mr. Ryan shouting gleefully, and all the other kids running around, Samantha was really overstimulated and took several breaks with Daddy to sit and observe. Amelia, on the other hand, was in the fray the whole time. Her favorite activity by far was placing a squishy ball through a basketball hoop over and over.

The “gymnastics” portion of the class lasted for about half an hour, with the girls rotating activities every 5-10 minutes. After completing an exercise, the girls would mostly just wander off to play on the teeter totter, push gigantic yoga balls and play in the ball pit. At one point, Ms. Stacy came up to reassure me that it was completely fine for Samantha and Amelia to run around as they pleased and that eventually, as they got older, they would naturally want to participate more in the structured activities. As if I was worried in the first place.

There were about 15 other kids in the class, a few of whom were 14 months old like Samantha and Amelia. I got the impression that a lot of the other moms and dads brought their kids to the gym regularly just for some adult interaction, which was, admittedly, a huge selling point. The other parents were really nice and we had fun mocking our very presence at something as ridiculous as a toddler gymnastics class. What hilariously weird things we sign ourselves up for in the name of parenting!

Toward the end of the class, Mr. Ryan called everyone over for a puppet show featuring a singing Mr. Alligator. When I say “singing,” I mean Mr. Alligator lip-synched while a voice through the speakers did the actual talking and singing. Despite the sub-par performance, Amelia was totally enthralled with the whole thing. I thought she would freak out when the alligator came by to bite off the toes of every kid, but after her toes were nipped, she was giggling hysterically. During the puppet show, Samantha was on the sidelines taking a break with Daddy, so she missed out.

My absolute favorite part of the whole experience was when the teachers asked all the parents to put the kids inside the giant circle on the floor and asked us to step back and simply watch for ten minutes while the kids played– no intervening allowed. Then, they dumped a bunch of musical instruments, miniature shopping carts, and all kinds of fake food items on the floor for the kids to sort.

I will hereinafter refer to this activity as Ten Minutes of Heaven. It was SO nice just sitting back and watching the girls play instead of showing them what to do or playing referee the whole time. I thought the girls would get scared and come running toward me and Jake at some point, but they were completely engaged the entire time. Minus a few incidents where Samantha grabbed kids’ shopping carts and dumped them out, the girls did a great job of sharing and interacting nicely.

As I sat watching from afar, it hit me that Samantha and Amelia are getting so independent. That seems ironic considering I still have to carry them, wipe their butts, spoon-feed them oatmeal, and basically every other self-care job there is, but it still seems like yesterday that they were learning how to sit up and I could carry both of them in the football hold. I got a little teary-eyed watching our big girls play, while simultaneously looking forward to their growing independence and the less physical work that will require of me. It’s amazing how much a little distance can help you see how amazing they really are.

Another great thing I didn’t have to put up with for ten minutes was that anytime a Waddler put anything in his/her mouth, Ms. Stacy (poor girl) would run over, grab the toy, and put it in the “to wash” bin. By the time play time was over, there weren’t many toys left since Samantha and Amelia had slobbered on almost every single one.

Theoretically the “to-wash bin” (in addition to their “strict” sanitizing schedule that I read about in their brochure), means the gym cleans their toys and equipment regularly, although since I never saw anyone actually cleaning anything, I can’t be sure. In fact, the twins now have the sniffles. Coincidence? I think not.

At the end of class, we gathered together for a few goodbye songs and stretches. Samantha and Amelia were completely worn out by this point, and were way overdue for lunch. Despite the girls’ crankiness on the car ride home, overall, it was fun to switch things up from the regular routine of the park.

I also like that if you sign up for classes, you can also come in during designated “open gym” times and do whatever you want. This will be a life-saver during the summer when we can’t go to the park because of the heat. And with everything padded, enclosed, and nothing disgusting on the floor that the girls could put in their mouths (like the candy wrappers the girls ALWAYS mysteriously zone in on at the park), it’s a lot less mental stress for me. A win-win!

I ended up signing up for four weeks of classes, although we won’t be going this week since the girls have runny noses (I will give the gym’s sanitary conditions the benefit of the doubt…this time). Next time, I plan on only staying 40 minutes or so instead of the full hour since the girls were so overstimulated from the class (I blame Mr. Ryan’s supernaturally happy demeanor) that they had a hard time going down for their afternoon nap/bedtime. We will see if this trend continues next time, or if it was just a fluke.

Best case scenario, the girls’ experience as Waddlers (just had to say it one more time) will be the catalyst that sets them off on careers to become the first twin olympic gymnasts–not likely, since at the rate they are growing, the girls will be close to six feet tall, but you never know!

Lots of love,

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