updated 2 Sep 2012, 02:19
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Mon, Apr 23, 2012
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I'm now a play-gym convert
by Clara Chow


With the roller-coaster weather we've been having here of late - thunderstorms one moment; blazing sun the next - indoor playgrounds make a lot of sense for parents with stir-crazy kids cooped up at home.

While some people may eschew paying to enter padded play gyms, I have always found them a fun and friendly alternative to parks and pools, on days when I want to (relatively) relax.

Let the manic kids tear up and down the rubber-mat area, slide into the ball pits and make like hamsters down the myriad tunnels; at least it's an enclosed area with little chance of them getting lost.

It used to be that my friends and I would catch up at cafes over tea and macaroons.

These days, as mums of hyperactive tots, we huddle on junior-sized furniture, chatting in furtive snatches while keeping an eye on our roving offspring within the play gyms' confines.

A little less glamorous, but it works.

Before becoming a play-gym convert, I had to learn to steer clear of overcrowded establishments that are less than vigilant about sanitising their equipment (a lesson learnt the hard way when my younger son Lucien caught a strange, fever- and rash-inducing virus after a visit to one).

A good rule of thumb is to avoid peak hours and weekends, when hordes of screaming children are likely to be present.

And everybody should wash and sanitise their hands thoroughly before and after play sessions.

A few I've visited with Julian, six, and Lucien, 21/2:

Royce Kids Gym

Where: Liang Court, 177 River Valley Road, #02-20/21, tel: 6720-1111

Open: 10am to 7pm (Mon to Thurs), 9am to 7pm (Fri to Sun, and public holidays)

Admission: From $15 an hour for members; membership fee $55 a year. Go to for more information.

What: In a nutshell, this is a toy paradise for kids aged six months to 12 years.

There is padded play equipment such as slides, swings and rockers, but most kids will head straight for the well-stocked and sturdy play kitchen sets, line-up of ride-ons (the Lightning McQueen four-wheeler from Pixar's Cars is a favourite with kids).

Shelves are stacked with an array of blinking, talking educational toys for toddlers, and there are also Lego, Thomas And Friends, and Barbie corners.

With so much stimulation, 11/2 hours is enough for the boys to get all the play-lust out of their system.


Where: Leisure Park Kallang, 5 Stadium Walk, #02-12/13, tel: 6440-8355

Open: 10am to 8.30pm daily

Admission: Per entry $10 (12 to 23 months) or $14 (two years and up); free for adults and babies up to 11 months. Go to for more information.

What: A caged area full of slides, tunnels and ball pits, that extends towards the ceiling.

It's a little challenging for parents of younger kids who need constant supervision to squeeze into some of the tight spots in the maze-like structure (I once feared that I would be wedged forever in a tunnel while chasing after Lucien).

Fortunately, there's a flat play area suitable for toddlers. An attached cafe caters to parents and caregivers who want to eat, drink or read magazines.

Kid-friendly meals are available, too. Coupled with the unlimited play time, this makes it near impossible to leave.


Where: E!hub, Downtown East, 1 Pasir Ris Close, 3rd floor; and AMK Hub, #04-02, 53 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3; tel: 6589-1668

Open: Off-peak: Noon to 10pm (Mon to Thurs); Peak: 10am to 10pm (Fri to Sun, public holidays and eves, and school holidays)

Admission: From $9 for full day for members and $20 for non-members, during off-peak hours. Go to for more information.

What: A sprawling playground with several large play mazes, a soft play area for toddlers, and even an elevated adventure zone that older kids can navigate while wearing a safety harness.

Expect your children to go tearing all over the space - a great way to tire them out physically so that bedtime will come as a relief.

SingKids PlaySystem

Where: Changi Airport Terminal 3, B2 Mall (also other outlets, including VivoCity and United Square), tel: 6832-8002

Open: 11am to 11pm (last entry at 10.15pm)

Admission: From $18 per hour for non-members; $14 for members. Go to www.singkids.

What: The little ones will have a ball here - literally. Candy-hued balloons float and bounce in special netted areas, while there are pastel-coloured carousels and an indoor luge circuit for the more adventurous kids.

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