Nicki Anderson: My Gym brings fun and fitness to kids
Nicki Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org September 17, 2012 4:02PM
Melanie DeCarlo (left) and Hannah Eriksen are the co-directors of My Gym Aurora. | Submitted
At a Glance
What: My Gym Aurora open house
When: 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, and Saturday, Sept. 22.
Where: 4008 Fox Valley Center Drive
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:08AM
Tucked away behind Westfield Fox Valley Mall sits an unassuming gym that is a hidden treasure. My Gym Aurora inspires learning through fitness.
They recently launched a new program, Building Blocks. The curriculum guides students from 2 to 8 years old, through specific physical, cognitive and emotional development milestones. The goal of this new program is to assist kids of all levels and abilities to build strength, self-esteem and socialization all while being physically active.
“Building Blocks is incentive based, and helps kids build their skills in various areas including fitness, flexibility, strength, tumbling and teamwork,” said Hannah Eriksen, one of the co-directors of My Gym.
Eriksen points out that the program is not about athleticism, but simply allows children to achieve their personal best based on individual abilities and strengths.
As children participate in specific games and activities, their achievements are celebrated with stickers, progression ribbons, medals, trophies, graduation certificates, and more in periodic Building Blocks Acknowledgment Ceremonies.
Melanie DeCarlo, also a co-director of My Gym, says the program is incredibly valuable to the kids coming in, especially those with special needs.
“Our program is very inclusive as we bring in children with Downs syndrome, those that are developmentally delayed, autistic and also children who have fine motor disabilities,” she says. “I feel privileged to work with these kids, and Building Blocks allows all of them to learn through activity, which is vital for the success of our students.”
Children involved in Building Blocks have the ability to track their own progress as they attain physical landmarks necessary for their progress. Because success and building self-esteem are the core of the My Gym Program, it’s important that new skill progression, and recognition be all-inclusive while retaining the non-competitive, and positive spirit of My Gym.
Eriksen said the response by parents has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Parents like the fact that this program doesn’t stop once they leave My Gym,” she says. “What they learn spills over into their home life. Then they are able to share and implement what they learn here to their life outside of My Gym.”
Parents receive an overall plan outlining their child’s individual program and goals. The all-inclusive nature of Building Blocks fosters a non-competitive environment where all children can experience a sense of accomplishment. Both Eriksen and DeCarlo believe that type of environment is what makes the program work, as kids create their own success.
When I visited the facility, I couldn’t help but think of My Gym as an indoor park. Its spacious setting is perfect for kids to have safe, interactive fun. A lot of the activities help kids integrate hand-eye coordination, listening, taking turns, balancing, tumbling, fine and gross motor skills, social boundaries and peer interaction.
My Gym offers parent classes with their babies as well as classes for older children without parents. Each class is a hour long. Parent classes are limited to 21, while classes for older children are limited to 10.
To see it for yourself, My Gym will host an open house from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“This event will give parents an opportunity to come in and see what we’re all about,” DeCarlo said. “The fitness piece of our facility and programming is really what makes our kids thrive and makes our program one-of-a-kind. Learning while being active is so much more effective.”
When I was a kid, we’d play outside for hours, climbing, riding bikes, playing tag, among other activities. That unfortunately is not the norm for kids today, either for safety reasons, or structured programming for kids. Since kids today are not as active as they were 30 years ago, it’s refreshing to see a place where kids can go to do what they do best, learn naturally through physical activity.
Do you have an inspiring story about your journey to fitness? Share it with Nicki Anderson at email@example.com.