From the moment they open their little eyes and take in the curious new world around them, our babies are already learning as they interact with their newfound environment and experience some of life’s firsts. Everything is new, from their first word to their initial steps and onward to the beginning of preschool and beyond as they navigate this journey called life.

During this long list of firsts, children are in their formative years and a critical period of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development as little ones discover who they are in this world. That’s why at The Little Gym of Puyallup, their environment is fun, but their purpose is serious as they help children grow into well-rounded, well-adjusted super kids in the South Sound community!

The Little Gym of Puyallup
Tumble, roll, fall or crawl, kids can do it all at the Little Gym of Puyallup thanks to awesome toys. Photo courtesy: The Little Gym of Puyallup

20 Years of Fun at The Little Gym of Puyallup

It was in 1976 in Bellevue that the very first The Little Gym was opened by Robin Wes, an innovative educator, musician, and kinesiologist who envisioned a nurturing place where children could explore their physical development while also growing socially, emotionally, and intellectually. As time passed, the gym grew much like the children it serves, and today there are over 200 Little Gyms in the United States.

The Puyallup location opened its doors to the public 20 years ago on February 4, 2003, where it eventually landed under the ownership of local entrepreneur Tom Watrous.

“My kids went to The Little Gym when they were younger, so I was familiar with being a customer and seeing the benefits the gym had for the kids,” said Watrous. He saw it as an opportunity when it came on the market, and being a father himself, he wanted to ensure that The Little Gym could carry on its mission to help kids in their early childhood development.

“We became the owners in 2014,” explained Watrous, “We’ve been working on reinvigorating the gym since its purchase.”

The gym relocated in 2018 to Sunrise Village, a move that Watrous saw as a good fit for a positive learning environment. “It’s a great family-oriented location since there are lots of shops and restaurants,” he said.

The Little Gym of Puyallup
Instructors like Sam and Sophia, who have been with The Little Gym since 2013, along with owner Tom, all make a huge difference in the lives of so many children. Photo courtesy: The Little Gym of Puyallup

Three-Dimensional Learning at The Little Gym

Around 500 kids ages four months to 12 years are currently enrolled in classes at The Little Gym. The team of 13 fantastic, trained instructors goes above and beyond to nurture happy, confident kids through various classes. The array of classes is held seven days a week, with weekend classes for all ages. The weekday mornings primarily consist of parent/child courses for children ages three and under and pre-K courses for kiddos aged three to five.  

All of these courses follow The Little Gym’s Three-Dimensional Learning strategy. In this embraced proprietary philosophy, physical activity is used as a conduit for nurturing the whole child. This approach to skill development ensures every class offered fosters growth in three holistic dimensions, known as Get Moving!, Brain Boost!, and Citizen Kid!

The Little Gym of Puyallup
Classes are held seven days a week, but weekday mornings consist of parent/child courses for children ages three and under. Photo courtesy: The Little Gym of Puyallup

Get Moving at The Little Gym

It’s no secret that once little ones learn to move, they go! And sometimes it seems they’re even faster than you as they learn about the freedom of movement.

That’s why classes at The Little Gym focus on Get Moving! as part of their Three-Dimensional Learning approach. Movement like gymnastics and dance are utilized to help little ones develop strength, balance, flexibility, agility, and coordination.

“It’s all about getting them up and active,” said Watrous. “We really want to help them work on developing their mobility and physical skills while they’re young so as they get active as they get older, it gets easier to maintain those healthy habits.”

The Little Gym of Puyallup
The Little Gym also offers fun camp experiences during those summer months and winter seasons when school is out. Photo courtesy: The Little Gym of Puyallup

The Little Gym Brain Boost

The question “what have you gotten into this time?” is frequently asked among parents, often finding curious kiddos with sticky fingers in unlikely trouble. There’s flour on the kitchen floor, and the pots and pans have turned into drums.

It’s a mess created in the name of cognitive skill development, another key component of The Little Gym’s Three-Dimensional Learning strategy. “How do I solve problems? How do you move your body from this position to the other? Those are the questions we want kids to ask and then explore,” explained Watrous.

With Brain Boost!, The Little Gym nurtures listening skills, imagination, concentration, and decision-making. During classes like Kindermusk, kids are invited to strum along to the beat of their own drum without breaking your kitchenware.

Become a Citizen Kid at The Little Gym

Completing the Three-Dimensional Learning strategy to create a well-rounded future all-star is the Citizen Kid! aspect of all classes. By invoking this practice in every course offered, The Little Gym promotes sharing, teamwork, cooperation, and leadership. Each course allows every child to build their social skills, feel like they’re part of a group, and find themselves in an environment where they will learn to take turns and make friends.

“Honestly, what struck me the most once I got into this business was how many parents would call, and their number one reason for calling was that they wanted to get their kids involved with other children to help develop their social skills,” said Watrous.

Although the curriculum is important, the environment is still all about play. “At the end of the day, it’s all about fun,” said Watrous. “Yes, we want the kids to build social skills and self-confidence while trying new things, but most of all, we just want them to have fun while learning.”

The Little Gym of Puyallup
Kids will learn coordination along with teamwork skills with the help of group courses at The Little Gym. Photo courtesy: The Little Gym of Puyallup

The Little Gym’s Parent Survival Night and Birthday Parties

Need a night without the kids? Friday nights are Parent Survival Night. “Parents can bring their kids to play from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. and do some crafts and such while their parents go and enjoy sort of a date night, typically at the local shops in the village,” said Watrous.

The Little Gym will also take care of the kid’s dinner. “We even give the kids cheese pizza,” he added. After all, what kid will turn down pizza and fun? Talk about a perfect date night for parents who can rest easy knowing their kids are not just somewhere safe but also where they can grow and develop as individuals while their parents get some much-needed alone time.

Parents of kids who fall in love with The Little Gym will be happy to know they can even have their next birthday party there. Each party is instructor-led, and parents can pick any theme they like. The Little Gym will create fun, creative games and activities for your child and friends to enjoy on their special big day.

The Little Gym of Puyallup
10404 156th Street E #104