Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Little Gym or Gymboree?

Some of my mommy friends have been asking me whether Gymboree is better than The Little Gym or the other way around. Although both play/learning centers have similarities, they differ in their program formats and approach. 

Gymboree and The Little Gym are both international franchises and are popular worldwide. They also offer various programs that help promote physical, social and mental skills for early childhood development. 

Caleb has attended classes/ programs in both centers so I have a pretty good idea on how they differ. But before I share my review on each, let me first give a background on each and the programs they offer. 


Gymboree claims to be the global leader in early childhood development programs. It has over 700 locations in 36 countries, offering various classes that help develop cognitive, physical and social skills for children ages 0-36 years. Gymboree offers 6 types of classes. All classes are clustered according to age level.

1.  Play & Learn - open to kids 0 -3 yrs old years old (6 levels)  

2.  Music - open to kids 6 months to 5 years old (3 levels)

3.  Art - open to kids 18 months to 5 years (3 levels)

4.  Sports - open to kids 3-5 years

5. Family - multi-aged learning for family members to enjoy with their little ones

6.  Pre-School - open to kids 3-5 years 


Before you can enroll your child to Gymboree Play & Learn, you first have to be a member.  Annual Membership Rate is P2,000 and the Lifetime Membership (valid until the child turns 5 years old is P4,000.  As a member, you get to enjoy the following benefits:

  • 20% discount on gym play. Current Regular Rate is P350. Members only pay P280 per hour of gym play. 
  • 5% discount of birthday and theme parties
  • Free Gym Play Coupons (Annual members are given 5 gym play coupons while Lifetime Members are given 10 gym coupons.)
  • Gym Membership can be used worldwide
  • Freebies and Discounts from valued partners
  • P3,600 - once a week class for 4 weeks
  • P6,600 -  twice a week class (or 2 programs) for 4 weeks

GMA:  Eastwood, SM Megamall, Robinson's Magnolia Place, Trinoma, Greenbelt 5, Manila Polo Club, Alabang, Hotel Sofitel and Rockwell

VISMIN: Banilad Cebu, Parklane Cebu, Lanang Davao City, SM Gen San



I first took Caleb to Gymboree only for gym play when he was just over a year old. They had a branch then in Serendra which was quite convenient for us since I used to do my grocery shopping in Metro Market Market.  I chose to get an annual instead of the lifetime membership as suggested by a friend. This turned out to be a good decision because I think that kids can easily "outgrow" playing in the gym. I rarely see big kids in Gymboree, probably because older kids like a bit more challenge - higher slides and ramps, more difficult obstacles and wider space to run about. After a couple of months of taking Caleb to our weekly play date, he became familiar with Gymboree and actually looked forward to going there.

When we attended one of their open house events held in Fully Booked BGC, Gymboree gave away discount voucher to the participants worth P1,000 that can be used for their classes. 

Among all the programs they offer, I was most interested in their Play & Learn and Music class.  Before I enrolled, I took the liberty to schedule a trial class first. The trial class came with a P700 fee, but it was later deducted to the total tuition fee so it was like getting 1 free class.

Both classes have different themes each week. For the Music class (M3), kids were introduced to different types of instruments and genres. They made use of several props like scarves while they danced to slow and fast music. Caleb also learned basic concepts of sound like rhythm and beat while the kids mimic the beat with their instruments.   


Exploring different musical instruments in Music class
Dancing with scarves in Music class


The Play & Learn class involves more physical activity while promoting creative movement and imagination and cognitive development. Each week, they have a theme where kids get to explore the gym area through pretend play activities. 

Caleb enjoyed the pretend play activities so much. He particularly liked the theme where they pretended to be dogs searching for "bones" (a game of hide & seek), playing in the garden, lining up for a bath and finally taking a nap. He also liked the singing. It is here where I learned that singing/music is an important tool in teaching kids. Caleb learned to pack away his toys through the songs we learned in Gymboree. 

The staple activities in the Play & Learn are the bubble time and parachute time. Little did I know that the simple thing of popping bubbles actually improve kid's hand and eye coordination while the parachute time helps color recognition.      

Bubble Time

Under the parachute in Play & Learn class

Overall, I'd say that Caleb benefited much from attending classes in Gymboree. The teachers were all friendly, well-mannered, patient and good in communicating with young children.  If you're considering of enrolling your child in Gymboree, let me recommend the following:

1.  Although you can enroll your child as early as 6 months, I personally think that 9 months is the best age to start.  

2.  If your objective is to help your child improve his socialization skills, make sure that you sign up for classes that have at least 4 kids who attend regularly

3.  It would help if you first take your child to gym play so as to familiarize him/her with the environment before enrolling in a class

4. If you can, I suggest that you attend the class with your kid. If you have work, schedule the class on a Saturday. A lot of kids there just go with their yayas or caregivers (even if they have the time to stay with their kids). Remember, they grow up too fast! Don't miss out on the opportunity to bond and learn together while they are still young.
The Little Gym is a fitness and development center for children ages 4 months to 12 years. They pride themselves with their motor development and gymnastics-based programs that promote strength, flexibility,balance, rhythm, motor skills, muscle tone as well as good listening, cognitive and socialization skills.  The Little Gym offers the following program:

1.   Parent- Child Development Programs - 6 months to 3 years old, 
4 Levels

2.  Pre-School and Kindergarten Developmental Gymnastics - 3 to 6 years, 3 levels and 1 intermediate level by invitation only

3.  Grade School Recreational Gymnastics - 6 to 12 years, 1 level and 1 intermediate level by invitation only 

4.  Sports Skills Programs - 3 to 6 years, 2 levels 

5.  Martial Arts Program - 4 to 12 year, 2 levels


Annual Membership:
  • P1,960 per child for the first family member
  • P1,512 per child for other siblings in the same family
Quarterly Tuition Fee:
  • P14,180 for once week class (12 sessions)
  • P23,880 for 2x a week class or 2 programs (24 sessions)
LOCATIONS IN THE PHILS: Makati (Fort area), Pasig-Mandaluyong and Alabang



The first time we tried the parent-child class in The Little Gym, I knew that their program will help improve Caleb's motor skills development.  I was impressed with how the other kids could confidently hang on bars, cross on balance beams and roll like tiny gymnasts. But more than the physical skills,  I wanted Caleb to have the same confidence that the other kids seemed to have. 

Randy and I are both active and it is our desire for Caleb to also engage himself in sports later on. But we figured that before we can introduce him to any kind of sport, he has to first learn how to let go of his fears and feel confident about what he can accomplish.

The Little Gym also has similar activities with that of Gymboree, particularly the bubble and parachute time. They also have a different theme per week. But unlike Gymboree, The Little Gym focuses on motor skills development while incorporating movement, gymnastics, sports, games, listening, interaction and socialization.  

As expected, Caleb was a little dubious to try some of the gym activities, particularly jumping and crossing the high balance beam. I did not want to pressure him so I just let him focus on the skills he enjoyed  like the forward rolls and bar swings. 

His teacher was very patient with him. Although Caleb refused to try some of the activities at first, she never pressured him. Instead, she offered alternatives for him to try, consistently affirmed his strengths and continued to encourage him to take risks. At the end of the first term, the kids had a show day/class "graduation." His teacher also gave him an assessment of his strengths and areas for improvement.

Showing off his strong muscles as he hangs on the bar

Our ninja warrior hurdles the obstacles of the spider web

Learning how to balance on his own in the low beam

To personally encourage him, I would take videos of the activities/ skill of the day and show it to him at home. I helped him practice on his jumps and always assured him that I believe he can do it. Pretty soon, he was able to overcome his fear of falling and also became more confident in trying new activities.

I could only wish that I took Caleb to The Little Gym when he was younger so I could have known about his inhibitions earlier on.  However, I'm glad that he is now more confident of his own abilities and potential.

No more hesitant to cross the high balance beam

He is now confident to jump on his own!


So to answer the question which one is better... Gymboree or the Little Gym? I'd say... go try both programs and decide for yourself. Although they have similarities, they are different in many aspects. It all depends on you and your child.  Perhaps, these personal observations which can help you decide:

1. Taking your child to The Little Gym will require you to be more patient and active (since you will have to teach your child to perform unfamiliar skills, help him hang on bars, run around with him, etc.) Be prepared to run, sing, dance and jump with your kid.  I did it while I'm pregnant so I think you can too!   

2. The teachers at the Little Gym seem to be more experienced and trained in handling children. The center proudly displays the credentials of their teaching staff and all of them majored in child development or education. All of them are also involved in sports like martial arts or gymnastics.

3.  The Little Gym's gym area is more apt for big kids to explore while Gymboree seems to appeal more to younger kids. 

4.  Cost of tuition per class in The Little Gym and Gymboree are almost at par. 

5.  Unlike The Little Gym, Gymboree is open for gym play outside of class. If you enroll your child to 2 programs/classes a week, you can bring your child to play for free even if he/she does not have a class.

6. Gymboree has more centers/ branches, most of them are conveniently located in malls. Although you only take your child to class in one branch, you can take him/her to any branch for gym play.

7. Gym Play in Gymboree is also open to non-members. This means you can bring a friend/ sister/brother to play with your child.

8. Gymboree members also have free gym access to other Gymboree centers worldwide.

Whatever learning center you choose, I only have one recommendation. That is to personally join your child to class if you can.  No learning center/ school can ever replace the learning that you can impart to your child. Savor the opportunity and you would be surprised how much you can also learn.

1 comment:

  1. The information was very helpful. Even though we live in Anaheim, CA the info is still relevant since we have both. I really can't decide btwn the two. Seriously though, which would you recommend for a 16 month old?