DISCOVERING GYM FOR KIDS (1-6 YEARS)

They've just turned two and all they want to do is use their arms and legs to explore the many possible ways they can move about. So maybe it's time you took your little one to a gym class.  

You know all about the benefits of sport for adults. And for kids, there are just as many benefits! Just because your child is still very young, that doesn't mean they can't explore the joy of exercise! Although there will be more things they can do as they get older, they can start going to classes from the age of one. But what if you missed out on signing up to a club at the start of term? Don't worry, you can do exactly the same exercises from the comfort of your own home. You just need to push the furniture out of the way a bit

WHAT IS KIDS' GYM?

Gym is a fun way of helping kids discover their motor skills and develop them by doing very specific exercises. Jumping, crawling, throwing, catching, climbing and keeping their balance all feature in gym sessions for kids. And as well as being particularly fun for little ones, these actions help build their motor skills. Gym activities can be done in clubs as well as at home. Your living room or your child's bedroom can become a real playground filled with tunnels, a balance beam (which could just be a line drawn on the floor or the pattern in one of your carpets), obstacles and balls, among other things! Kids' gym is done using different accessories that, once placed end to end, form a real obstacle course. By performing the different exercises, your child will learn to coordinate their limbs, understand how their body is positioned in space, and control and develop their balance. And the best thing is, they won't even realise they're doing it as they'll be so busy scampering around, laughing and having fun. Gym gives them a great foundation for moving on to other sports and, in particular, gives them a chance to let off some steam.

THE RULES OF AN OBSTACLE COURSE 

It's difficult to apply proper "rules" with very young children! But the idea behind kids' gym is to let them work through a full obstacle course of exercises such as crawling, jumping, throwing, catching, climbing and keeping their balance. The youngest ones will of course need a helping hand, particularly when doing their first forward roll! But with time your child will be able to complete the course by themselves. It'll be really gratifying for them and a way of showing them that, by trying hard and training, they can get there!

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GYM ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS?

Working through these movements will be a real source of pleasure for kids, who will love the fact that they're being active and getting to use their bodies in all sorts of new ways! And, of course, the different exercises and movements will actively develop their motor skills. In concrete terms, this means helping them to move their bodies and control themselves. It gives them a chance to start coordinating their senses, such as sight, with their movements and reflexes, as well as understanding where their body is in relation to everything around them and feeling their muscles and joints. When done in a club, gym and baby gym are also a great chance for a bit of socialising and teach kids to follow rules so that the session runs smoothly. The more of these exercises your child does, the more autonomous they'll become and the more confidence they'll have in their abilities in general.

WHO IS A GYM AND A BABY GYM FOR?

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If you've managed to read the start of this article, you're probably not in the right age bracket for enjoying a bit of kids' gym! It can be done by children from around the age of one, as soon as they start walking. But if they're not yet up on two feet, they can still give it a go by crawling and playing with accessories such as the tunnel. There are also clubs that welcome children with a disability. Each child gets to grow in their own way and at their own pace. Not everyone will master the same exercise at the same age, so there's no need for parents to worry!

THE EQUIPMENT YOU NEED FOR KIDS GYM

To make sure your child feels at ease as they work through the obstacle course, a comfy tracksuit is the best bet. It should be the right size and shouldn't move around when your budding athlete is jumping, crawling or climbing. A pair of light trainers is also a must.

In summary, kids' gym brings nothing but benefits, from motor development to socialising, self-esteem and a respect for rules. But above all it's a chance for your little one to have fun and get a good night's sleep. And a good night's sleep for your child means a good night's sleep for you. Has your child given gym a go? What do you think?

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