A Gym Tale - Birthday Parties and play

by Chantal A Gym Tale is a play gym located in Barrehaven.  My 4 year old son had already attended two birthday parties there and when it came time to decide where to host his party he insisted his be there as well.  We have fluctuated between parties in our home and out.  I like the idea of a party outside our home, but often the cost was a deterrent.  We have had D's (almost 9 years old) parties at a glow in the dark mini-put location, and a skating rink.  Both were okay as far as I was concerned, the kids loved them but they were busy stressful for Kevin and myself.   M had never had a party outside our home.  When he suggested A Gym Tale we decided to agree. With D2 just 3 months old, we  could use all the help we could get.  A Gym Tale impressed me.

The party was two hours long.  It started with 30 minutes of free play in the play structure area.  While the kids had a blast running and playing I looked around and was very impressed with how clean the structures were.  The second half hour was spent in the "Enchanted Forest" which is a fenced off play area.  Your Party Champion joins you in this play area and the kids spend a fun filled 30 minutes doing activities based around your chosen theme.  M's theme was Star Wars.  We then moved into our private party room where the kids enjoyed their lunch and M opened his presents.

There were a few things that impressed me about the party at A Gym Tale.  First and foremost was the Party Champion.  This was not just a facilitator who brought you the drinks and hot dogs when it was time to eat.  This was a real deal party host.  Our host was so enthusiastic and fun.  She did a great job of getting the kids to run around the obstacle course and getting them all pumped for the battle with the space alien!  It was 30 minutes of pure fun.  When we moved into the private room she took care of the food, drink and the cake.  She then organized the kids for the gift opening and added a nice touch of having each gift giver sit next to M while he opened their gift.  When the gift opening was done we still had 10 minutes on the clock.  She could have easily just sent the kids back out to play but instead she got out some props and did some magic tricks for the kids.  My husband and another parent helped out when needed but she was completely in control.  Considering I was alternately holding and nursing a 3 month old I found the Party Champion made this party worth every penny.

A Gym Tale isn't only about birthday parties.  They have drop in play, play groups, nursery school, after school day care and even Kids (read: parents) night out activities.  If you are interested definitely check out the web site for more info.  I know we will be going back there for some drop in play time. I envision me and few other moms chatting at the table area while our kids play happily. Yes I do!

Gymboree Play and Music - Playgyms

by Vicky If you are looking for a place where your kids can burn off some energy on a rainy day, you must check out a Gymboree Play & Music. They offer developmental classes for kids ages 0-6 years, but they also have lots of drop in sessions for free play, and it's nearly impossible not to have a good time here.

Kids can play on many different structures, slides, rocking horses, bounce on huge inflatable tubes and balls, shoot some basket balls, hide in nooks and crannies, or under parachutes and in tunnels. The boldly coloured equipment is rearranged every two weeks, so it's always different. There are baskets of bean bags, balls, bells and other toys to play with too. Upbeat and lively music is always kept on. Basically it's a juiced up indoor playground that's better than any trip to the candy store. The equipment, toys and bathrooms are also cleaned and sanitized nightly. The only thing missing is a coffee bar for parents, but with a Tim Hortons around the corner you could always bring a coffee with you.

K at Gymboree

I have to say, I'm slightly biased because I used to work at Gymboree. But I've met many friends and their kids there for playdates and it's been pretty unanimous that the kids love it and are sufficiently worn out by the time we leave. It's well worth the $8! If you join Gymboree, you can attend as many Play gyms as you want as part of the $40 membership.

I would say that the Playgyms are ideal for children 10 months - 5 years. You don't need to worry if they aren't walking yet, because most of the equipment is padded and is really great for developing gross motor skills. Joel was a late walker, so the bumpy ramps and slides were great for helping him build up strength in his legs and also confidence. By the time Joel turned 3, he had pretty much exhausted all that Gymboree had to offer, but that was partially due to the fact that I worked there and he got to enjoy playing several times a week, on top of his weekly class.

Joel at Gymboree

The schedule changes seasonally, so you should check it out often. If you are looking for a little more structure, you can always sign up for a free 45 minute class. When you do check out a Playgym, make sure you ask for a Gymbo stamp on your way out the door!

Kiernan at Gymboree 2

Gymboree is located in Orleans, but it's not easily visible from Innes Road (I missed it the first time I tried to go). It's tucked in behind Stereo Plus.

And here's a tip - once your kids have experienced Gymboree, you won't be able to drive by it without them insisting that you go in and play!

Vicky is mom to a 3.5 year old boy Joel and nine month old girl Mieka. She also blogs at Some kind of Wondermom.