I've written before about my concerns with the first gym we were going to for MG's gymnastics class. Well, after the last session ended, I finally sucked it up and signed her up for two classes a week at the place closer to home.
Oh my goodness, you guys, what a difference!
The siblings play area at the first place was a joke. First of all, the toys were all things that Goodwill would reject. Second, it was out a door, down a short hall, and through another door, which made it impossible for me to watch both kids at once. The new place's sibling area is right next to the area where MG's class is, and I can watch them both at once. The toys are nice, they're clean, and they kept Claire entertained for the half hour class. The sibling area is combined with the parent observation area, that looks out over the main gym. Mary Grace's class was held in the area that doubles as a dance studio, which is also above the main gym. It's sort of a loft. It was fun to watch the older kids to their tricks down below. Claire could see, because there's a fence over the gym from that area, but it was small enough that she couldn't get through and fall!
The old gym had about twice as much equipment as could reasonably fit in the space they had, and it always felt and looked cluttered and unsafe. While I never saw anyone get hurt, I always worried that MG would trip and crack her head on some piece of equipment that was too close to where she was trying to do her little tricks. The new place is at least three times larger, maybe more, and all the equipment is spread out in a much safer configuration. Not only that, but upstairs where her class is, they even have toddler-sized equipment for the kids to learn on! How cool is that? Rather than trying to adjust the bar down, for example, they have a little bar that's only about 18 inches off the ground. How much more confidence is she going to learn if the equipment is the right size for her body, as opposed to always feeling dwarfed by the equipment (and intimidated!).
You might remember that the owner of the old gym yelled at me for trying to show Mary Grace what her instructor meant by "a bridge" during the class. Well, this gym has "open gym" so that we can just go and blow off some steam during the winter, or practice, or hop on the trampoline, or whatever. I'm excited about that! It's a little extra money, but only $2 a kid. Not at all unreasonable.
The instructor at the old gym was nice, but I've been extremely impressed with all of the people (parents, instructors, receptionist, etc.) that I've spoken to at the new gym has been extremely friendly. It's nice to not feel like everyone is in "the club" except us.
Finally, I always felt that there were too many kids in MG's old class. She had 5, sometimes 6 toddlers and one instructor. There were two kids in the class we tried last night - Mary Grace and another little girl. She got lots of individual attention, and they didn't break in the middle of a half hour class to waste time getting a drink (one of my pet peeves at the old place).
Overall, I think it's true that you get what you pay for, and I'm happy to pay twice the price at the new place! I'm glad I followed my instincts.