I first came across The Little Gym when my son, Sam, was a baby. My sister was a member at The Little Gym Amsterdam, and Sam joined his cousin’s class whenever we were in town.
I remember our first visit to The Little Gym Amsterdam. The welcome was warm, the teachers were friendly, and it was bright, clean, and very professional. And I was having great fun with Sam.
I enjoyed my job as an Audit Manager at Ernst & Young. But I started daydreaming about having my own business and found myself doodling ‘The Little Gym’ on my notepad.
The Little Gym had captured my imagination. I’ve always loved spending time with children of all ages. And I’d always enjoyed teaching – to the point that my Mum thought that I’d end up a teacher.
I started researching owning a The Little Gym franchise. I wanted to find out more, and met with franchise owners from across the UK. They were overwhelmingly positive about The Little Gym.
And in 2009 it happened! I opened my own business – The Little Gym Harpenden. I remember sitting around my dining table – our office back then – when we announced our opening date by email to interested parents. Our phone rang two minutes later with our first enrolment. We were so excited; I’ll never forget.
Within two weeks, 120 children had joined. Within six months, 300 children had enrolled. And today, more than 600 children crawl, run, cartwheel and somersault around our gym each week.
Seven years on and we regularly hear from parents that our classes make a real difference to their children. We feel so privileged to be allowed the opportunity to contribute to their development.
One mother of twin daughters told us recently that our classes have made a huge difference to the strength and agility of her prematurely born girls.
Another Mum told us that she has to drive a different route to get to the shops. If she drives past our Gym, her baby gets too excited and demands to go to class.
All of these stories make us realise how much the children thrive in our gym. Our classes are positive, fun, nurturing and structured. They see the same happy teacher each week in a friendly, bright and familiar environment. And while they’re having fun, they are becoming stronger, more agile, and building confidence and courage that will last a lifetime.
It doesn’t matter how old they are or whether they are sporty. We make it okay to start at six months or six years, and make children feel good about themselves and what they are doing -- regardless of their level of development or natural affinity for sport.
My favourite is that special time when three year olds move from being in parent and child classes to being on their own. The mums, dads and children are often a bit unsure. But when you see the little boys and girls take those first steps into class, smile and blossom with a new sense of independence – nothing can beat that moment. And we always have a much needed cup of tea on hand for Dad and Mum!Lindsey VennerOwner – The Little Gym Harpenden