Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Toddler gym review: Gymboree vs The Little Gym

When I just gave birth, I thought I will never ever sign up for such baby gym. They are so freaking expensive, I think is a total waste of money. Well, never say never and here I am, a baby gym's consumer. I have research almost every baby/toddler gym in the Klang Valley, but I only went for trial for two, the Gymboree and The Little Gym.

Gymboree trial class at Bangsar Village.
Trial class - First of all, the trial class is free for play classes only. They don't let me try for Music or Art classes.
The environment/equipment - My daughter loves their wooden equipment. She was walking and climbing all over the equipment. I would have paid to have her play there alone without an instructor.
The instructor - The girl seems young, like fresh out of high school, extra cheery and all that. My daughter was more than happy to play on her own, she dislike teacher talking to her. The instructor was quite understanding and she did let me daughter do her own thing.
Class structure - There are a lot of singing with Gymbo the clown, free play time with the instructor guidance, the parachute and the bubble time. What's up with toddler's fascination with bubbles, every class seems to have them.
Fees - Annual Global Membership = RM265.00
Package A = 12 classes (3 months) = RM980.50
Package B = 24 classes (6 months) = RM1,060.00 (* include 5 PlayGym)
Package C = 48 classes (12 months) = RM3,392.00 (*include free membership, 10 PlayGym, etc)
* classes are for multiple program according to your liking
Verdict - My daughter loves their equipment, but not the class. I think there is too much singing in a circle and she was a little freak out by Gymbo and the parachute. From what I gather, every class will have them. The fee packages are too expensive for short term and I don't dare to commit for long term. One year is a long time for something that I'm not sure whether my daughter will outgrow from.

The Little Gym trial class at Hartamas Shopping Centre
Trial class - Free
The environment/equipment - The space are mostly filled with padding and mini gymnastics equipment. No wooden climbing equipment, but my daughter still loves it.
The instructor - I know I'm biased, but the English native speaking instructor does leaves a great impression for me. He is an older man, maybe American, mid 40s? Not sure. He's not overly cheery, instead he looks professional and knowledgeable. In fact, I saw for the next class, there is a Malay man instructor, he also looks like a qualified teacher, instead of some high school grad working a part time job.
Class structure - They started off with circle time and songs. My daughter was fascinated with the bells she was holding. Then the instructor showed some gymnastic moves that we can practice with our little ones. Next came the inflatable bed, the parent was told to roll and do the kangaroo hop with the child. My daughter was laughing so hard during this activity. We also have some ball activities whereby the kids suppose to roll the ball down a slope, but my daughter was holding her ball for dear life. The instructor told me every week they will introduce set of equipment to stimulate the child. Then we move on to explore the gym. During this time, the instructor will move around and give some ideas and pointers. We end the session with a song and of course bubbles! My girl was running all around chasing the bubbles.
Fees - Annual Family Membership = RM170
Monthly Auto-payment = RM299 (4 classes)
* you need to sign up for auto-payment via credit card. Can discontinued anytime by providing one month notice
6-month advance plan = RM1,600 (24 classes)
12-month advance plan = RM2,900.00 (48 classes)
* if you're unable to complete the plan, they will refund the value of classes remaining. T&C applied. 
All class comes with a complimentary 'Practice time', which is similar to OpenGym concept. You can attend the OpenGym for 45mins to 1 hour once a week for free play. Please refer to their schedule.
Promotion - I believe currently they are promoting their new Bugs class which is for 4 to 10 months babies. Is free! You only need to pay the annual fee to attend the class. Please check before signing up though.
Verdict - I ended up signing up for The Little Gym, although their weekend crowd seems huge. There are almost 10 toddlers in my class. But since this is more physical rather than educational, I don't mind the crowd. I like their peers, the instructor and the environment. The parking at Hartamas is also much cheaper compare to Bangsar Village. Last of all, I like the monthly payment scheme. Is easier to part with RM299 per month compare to the huge amount that I have to pay for Gymboree.

Other Baby/Toddler Gym
Flykidz Gymnastics @ Solaris Mont Kiara  - I didn't visit them, just look through some pictures. Their place seems less cherry, but still well equip. Their fees are much cheaper at RM393 for 10 classes and RM85 one time registration. If not because I'm too tired to try out any more trial classes, I might try this one as well.
Beebop Circus @ JayaOne - They are the nearest to my place, but I didn't visit them. I email them for the fees, but they refuse to divulge unless I attend their trial. But from what I read in an old blog, is about RM320 per month.
Young Explorer @ 1 Mont Kiara - I visit them once. I find their gym too small and less cheery. Although I'm sure the older kids loves the Adventure Maze next to the gym. Their fees are RM95 for registration, RM795 for 12 classes (below age 3).