What’s the concept behind The Little Gym?
It’s a place where we build kids’ confidence, and encourage their skills in a fun and nurturing environment. The concept was founded back in 1976, and has grown very popular, with over 350 gyms across the world.
What made you want to get involved?
As a mother of two young kids, the concept instantly struck a chord with me when I heard about it through a friend. Dubai has lots to offer but I still felt there was a gap in the market for something like The Little Gym, where kids can get physical exercise and have fun at the same time. And because it’s non-competitive, it means they strive for their personal best.
What fitness challenges face children in the UAE?
There’s no happy medium. Some classes have coaches that are so strict the kids dread attending them, or, at the other end of the scale, kids just hang out at public play areas with their nannies. With The Little Gym, we’ve tried to strike a balance. We’re not the only ones who see the value of this approach. Major studies note the myriad benefits of early childhood physical development. Our positive, non-competitive environment triggers children’s natural drive to discover their own potential.
We’ve heard that exercise can boost mental ability – is that true?
A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Dubai is a wonderful place but because of the weather it’s very easy for parents to let their child watch TV or play video games indoors to avoid the heat. But it’s proven that physically active pre-school children perform better in class at kindergarten and during their first years of school. With age-appropriate exercises and group activities, The Little Gym provides a different context for learning.
Are kids’ fitness levels improving in the UAE?
Obesity levels are very high in the UAE, but gradually people are becoming more aware about the importance of being fit and healthy. With more gyms opening each year, I am sure fitness levels here will rise in the coming years.
How can parents encourage their children to enjoy physical exercise in general?
Kids don’t always like to do what their parents ask them, but they do follow their parents’ example. So, if you want your children to be fit, you need to be fit too. In our parent-child class for children from 10 months to three years, each child participates with one of their parents during warm-up and group activity. We really encourage parents to join in with the activities, and you’d be surprised how many babies follow their parents’ actions.
So what’s next for The Little Gym?
Ibn Battuta was the first Little Gym in the UAE. We have the franchise and, judging by the positive response, we plan to open more, with a second outlet in Abu Dhabi, and most likely another gym in Dubai next year.
The Little Gym, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai, www.thelittlegym.com (04 445 6850)