updated 16 Nov 2011, 20:29
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Tue, Nov 08, 2011
The New Paper
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Rock ‘n’ roll in gym
by Rennie Whang

Tucks, half twists and somersaults: tots have been hitting the gym - well, gymnastics class that is. Owners say that gym classes help kids as young as four months old develop motor skills.

They also say that the exercises stimulate the brain, and help to develop thinking and analysis. This week, Kids' Craze checks out three gyms in Singapore.

Bazgym Gymnastics School (right)

This is a work of passion for Mr Sng Puay Liang, 41, a former national gymnast.

It started off in a rented hall in Bishan Community Club. Now, it has two branches - one at Home Team NS-JOM Clubhouse at Ah Hood Road, and another at Safra Jurong.

Both branches are well-equipped with in-ground trampolines, and spongepits built beneath high bars: The latter are for the younger children to play in, and for the older ones to train their skills.

Kids get to try out all the professional gym equipment by the time they are five or six.

There is even a physio gym for children with special needs.

The school works with special schools like Rainbow Centre and Eden School.

Says Miss Toh Jia Hui, 24, head coach and assistant manager of Bazgym: "We put a lot of focus into planning our programmes.

"Other gyms might leave planning to the individual coaches but we make sure that the programmes are changed every week, and are not repetitive for the kids."

Bazgym offers five programmes for these groups - three to four years, four to five years, five years and above, pre team/team competitive gym and physio gym.

JWT Kids (middle)

Another US-based franchise, JWT kids, recruits trainers with a strong sporting background: A gold medallist in silat, for example, or ex-national gymnasts.

No surprise then that JWT ups the ante in physicality. In one class, kids run to touch various coloured line markers in the gym as part of warm-up.

There is also a gamut of apparatus: Kids climb up and down stall bars, work monkey bars and bounce a route around plastic cones by sitting on a giant inflatable ball.

JWT Kids also provides a high ratio of instructors to children. More instructors means the kids are challenged with more complicated tasks - for instance, inverting themselves over large sandbags and skipping a long rope.

There is also a strong storytelling dimension to classes here.

JWT Kids has two branches: #02-12 in UE Square, and at Eastgate Building on East Coast Road. Classes are for kids from four months old to nine years old.

The Little Gym (left)

A franchise of a US-based chain, the Singapore branch has been here since 2003.

The Little Gym's programmes are based on three dimensions. Getting kids active and moving, boosting their brains by getting them to recall the activities they've done, and getting them be a "citizen kid" - to listen and learn to share.

In a class for three-year-olds, for example, kids are taken from fundamental sports skills - kicking, throwing and catching a ball - to gymnastic skills like hanging on a training bar.

They also do beam balancing and jump off a springboard. Class begins and ends with singing, and activities are often accompanied by ditties.

The Little Gym is at #B1-24 in Forum The Shopping Mall, and #03-163/164 Marina Square. It offers classes for kids from four months to 12 years.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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