Toddler Gymnastics Class: More useful for the real world than I ever imagined.

I’ve talked a little bit on here about how one of my biggest goals in life is to be a role model for my daughter and my hope that she will enjoy fitness as part of her lifestyle as much as I do. In lots of little ways I can see how I’ve already rubbed off on her. She seems to enjoy attending my races and will jump on my yoga mat to do a down dog as soon as I roll it out in the living room.


Please excuse the tragic mess behind her. As other parents can probably understand, cleaning the house while your 2 year old is awake is equivalent to attempting to light matches underwater.

Last year I enrolled her in a class at The Little Gym and it has been a part of our Saturday routine ever since. There are gyms like this for kids all over the place, but of the ones I researched I liked Little Gym the best. They teach a lot of useful early development skills, hand-eye coordination, colors/letters/numbers, songs, social skills, but then they also mix in the early gymnastics “skills of the week” and eventually you can transition into real gymnastics classes.

It has been a ridiculous amount of fun watching Betty improve as she has been going there. She can do a great somersault now, walk the wide balance beam without any help, and her ability to follow instructions has gotten SO much better. She was always the kid that could be found climbing all over everything when they aren’t supposed to yet – and usually the other kids would follow suit. (Sorry about our trendsetting, other parents.) Now she’s only that kid maybe half the time and I consider that a win.

Often the “skill of the week” involves activities on the uneven bars. When we first started Little Gym, Betty couldn’t hold on to those bars to save her life. Now swinging from them is one of her favorite things about going to class, besides the bubbles, and the stamps that she gets on her feet at the end. Little did I know that a skill picked up at toddler gymnastics would end up saving us from possible playground doom.

Last Saturday it was really nice outside. In the afternoon the temps touched 70 degrees for the first time in what feels like forever. My mom and I decided to take Betty to the playground so we could all get some fresh air. Of course the one we chose was stupid crowded, but Betty was in a good mood and not even grouchy over the line we had to stand in to use the swings. We decided to stick around awhile despite all the people.

There are two play structures right next to each other. One is designed for kids Betty’s age and the other is for older children. I’ll give you one guess as to which one she prefers. She loves big kids and has no fear. There is a little rock wall to get to an upper portion of the structure and I was pretty surprised when she scaled it with no problems. Then there is one of those bouncy bridges that always makes me a little nervous, especially with rowdy older kids around whose parents always seem to not be paying any attention to what they are doing.

I held her hand as she crossed the bridge and went around to the other side to collect her, but she decided she wanted to go down the big slide and started back across the bridge without me. That’s when things got bad.

So let me just say here that I take at least partial responsibility because really I shouldn’t have let her on a play structure that was so busy with bigger children. Not the brightest idea on my part, but I try to let her have freedom where I can and as long as I can supervise her closely. A rowdy little boy, who was maybe 5 or 6 years old, ran on to the bridge and started jumping up and down right next to her. She lost her footing.

I knew in that moment that she was going to fall off the side, but I couldn’t get there fast enough. The bridge was too low for me to jump under without knocking myself unconscious. I could only run around the side to get to her, but it felt like my feet weighed 1,000lb apiece. Everything seemed to be happening really slowly and really fast at the same time.

I waited for the inevitable thud of her hitting the ground and subsequent screams, both of which didn’t happen.

Because she caught herself. Like some kind of awesome toddler ninja she had reached up and grabbed the bar on the side of the bridge and then hung there, swinging back and forth. After a few seconds she dropped and landed on her feet, but the whole episode still surprised her and she started to cry.

I picked her up to console her feeling like the lowest form of life. Then I looked up to see the boy on the bridge whose jumping had knocked her down.

I know kids will be kids and accidents happen. I wasn’t mad at him and Betty probably shouldn’t have been there to begin with. But I feel like any other kid would have acted concerned or at the very least run away. I wouldn’t have done another thing about it if either of those things had happened. Instead, this kid looked me square in the eye with this creepy smile on his face and yelled, “HA HA HA!!!! THAT WAS SOOOO FUNNY!!!”

I bet he didn’t think it was “SOOOO FUNNY” when I went and got his dad.

Anyway, what could have been a day ruining event (and possible trip to the ER) was avoided and I have The Little Gym to thank. Who knew that an innocent toddler gymnastics class could turn your kid into a playground ninja??

Have you or your kids ever taken gymnastics? Have any of you ever used those awesome skills to save the day?

Happy Thursday and Happy Less Than 2 Months until my MARATHON! I have an appointment with a new sports medicine doc today who will hopefully give me some good ideas of how I can train on my wonky ankle.

~ Salt


28 thoughts on “Toddler Gymnastics Class: More useful for the real world than I ever imagined.

  1. emmelineruns says:

    Ninja baby! Good for her 🙂 I think letting her play near the bigger kids and tough it out is great for her since it doesn’t seem to bother her and you’re watching closely. She’s brave and if you made her stay on the baby playground when she wanted to go bigger, I think it would teach her that things are out of her reach even if she thinks she can handle them. I don’t have kids but that’s just my two cents from coaching youth soccer for years, the most well-adjusted kids who picked up athletics quickly were the ones who were unafraid to try and whose parents let them learn for themselves where they wanted to set their limits. Betty sounds like most of my favorite little kids 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you for saying all this. That’s exactly how I viewed everything before any of this happened, but then I second guessed myself after she fell off the bridge. And you just gave me the biggest smile when you said she sounds like one of your most favorite kids. She has a HUGE personality. I bet you would love her. 🙂

  2. she's going the distance says:

    Betty is such a trooper! I took gymnastics when i was really young, and i swear it helped me feel strong and capable. I grew up with 3 older brothers and most of the neighborhood kids were boys, i always ended up in strange situations. Trees, fences, scaling playgrounds and furniture the wrong way. I always felt like i could hang with the boys and i liked it! That’s amazing that betty caught herself!!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I love that! I think she’s going to end up liking it enough to continue as she gets older and I hope she has the same experiences as you do. She doesn’t have any brothers (and she won’t), but she has 3 older boy cousins that she needs to keep up with!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks! She was just around 15 months when we started going there. She was in the “birds” class first and then moved up to “beasts” at 18 months and is just about to move up another class now that she’s 2. 🙂

  3. OneMotherofaDay says:

    That’s great that she is enjoying gymnastics! And who would have thought that would have helped her in real life situations! That is great! I am a major helicopter mom when it comes to my son playing at the playground and especially when there are tons of other kids and older ones at that. I know kids will be kids but it always bothers me when my son gets pushed down or an older kid takes one of his toys, etc. I never know how to react. I know I need to give him his space in order to learn and grow but then I still think of him as a little baby that I need to protect. I have thought about signing my son up for some type of gym-type classes for toddlers.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I hear you. I hate being in situations where there are other kids and their parents are just nowhere to be seen and stuff like that happens. I feel like I should say something, but then I feel like it’s not my place. I just try to do the best I can with Betty teaching her how to share and be patient so that she will have a laid back attitude. But at the same time you don’t want your child getting walked all over either! Ugh being a parent is HARD sometimes!

      I would definitely suggest it! As you can see, it has been beneficial to us in some pretty odd ways haha.

  4. piratebobcat says:

    Awesome! Very cool to do that. At our boy’s daycare, they have different classes he can take. He has done gymnastics, soccer, and football. He loves all sports!
    And I know what you mean about not being able to clean when they’re awake. Holy crap, I’ll clean up one room and return 2 minutes later to find a tornado had gone through it!

    • runsaltrun says:

      That’s so awesome that they have different classes for him! B is about to switch to a new school and I hope they will have things like that for her to try.

      I actually had to tell my husband to just sit down and relax with it. He would follow her around cleaning up and I’m like…dude just stop. You are stressing yourself out unnecessarily.

  5. Piper's Run says:

    I love that your house looks just like mine and that my oldest daughter is just like yours (does yoga – down dog etc.) I recently came in from a run and was stretching and talking to my husband only to see out of the corner of my eye, my daughter doing the same stretches that I was doing.
    We haven’t done gymnastics but our daughter does a program at daycare called “Tumblebugs” – a form of gymnastics. Betty sounds like a rock start…oh, just like her Mama!

    • runsaltrun says:

      That’s so fun! I love setting such a great example for these kiddos! And seriously it is just pointless to clean during daylight hours. I saved my own sanity by stopping that a long time ago.

      You are the sweetest! Thank you so much! Betty is actually starting a new daycare soon and I’m hoping they will have stuff like that for her to do there too. (She is in an in-home now and they don’t really have any kind of curriculum.)

  6. michelle k says:

    Wow, you did better than I would have. I totally lose my cool in situations like that and probably would have threatened that psycho kid. That’s so awesome that she caught herself! Future Cirque du Soleil performer? A lot of people think I don’t give C enough freedom. He’s fearless, too, and I am so scared of him hurting himself. It’s also embarrassing when he makes it all week at daycare without a scratch and I bring him in all busted up with a black eye Monday. It’s like “Sorry, we couldn’t handle the two full days we had with him.”

    • runsaltrun says:

      I hope that this will be something that my girl will latch onto and use as a tool as she gets older. I was never involved in any kind of sport growing up and I did have a tough time. Maybe it would have helped me!

  7. Change of Pace says:

    Impressive skills little Betty! Ah- I think I would have had a heart attack!
    I give such props to moms like you (and my sister) who manage to parent relaxed and give their kids some much-deserved freedom. I’m a worrier when I watch my niece and don’t let her do much!
    I’m so glad it ended well and that she was able to help herself out! That’s probably the best parents can hope for in any situation.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you so much for the link. I’ve been wanting to take her to a children’s yoga class, but it’s tough to find one around here that works with our schedule. I would love to read more about it though!

      • harmonioushouseholds says:

        No problem! I think it’s so interesting to know the actual scientific benefits behind the practice. I will be offering classes online soon and will update you when I do. Thanks!

  8. kristenk says:

    Wow you have a ninja baby! I think you did the right thing by letting her do things on her own. Clearly she’s awesome and can handle the big kids! And it’s so cute that she’s doing yoga!

  9. fitnessmeetsfrosting says:

    OMG Salt Mama rules! What a little brat! So glad you talked to his dad. BTW it totally felt like I was reading a suspense novel and I was just anticipating a horrible fall. So glad that didn’t happen. Keep that little tumbler in gymnastics! Lol I did gymnastics when I was younger, and always had a strong upper body (and lower) because of it! Not sure why the balance thing didn’t align. If you could trip while sitting, I bet you I’d do it.

  10. Running Betty says:

    I LOVE this! I try to find active activities for my daughter(she takes gymnastics 2 x a week and we go rock climbing together), and include her in my road races (she’s ran a 1 mile fun run and 5k with me). Being a positive, healthy role model is one of the big motivators behind my healthy lifestyle too! Betty is so cute doing her downward dog! 🙂

  11. Pandora Viltis says:

    Ninja baby! Lol! I’m so glad she was ok.

    You showed waaayyy more restraint that I would’ve if that rowdy kid had laughed at my kiddo after that. I’d have wanted to knock him off and laugh at him when he cried. I hope his dad was at least upset over his son’s behavior.

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