I’ve always been passionate about fitness. As a child I would try every sport that I could get my hands on. I didn’t care if it involved a ball, a stick, a beam or a pair of goggles – I just wanted to do it!

That passion for movement led to a sports fitness degree at university, where I found my second passion – child development – and majored in the impact exercise, or lack of, has on their development.

I stumbled across The Little Gym through an old school friend. It sounded like a dream combination of child development and sport. But I wasn’t convinced that it could be as good as it sounded. So I took my one-year-old daughter, Charlotte, to do a class at every The Little Gym in the UK.  

When I walked in, it was always a wow moment.  I was knocked out by how friendly and colourful each gym was, and how enthusiastic the staff were. The way they made us feel so welcome. It didn’t matter where I went, the facilities were always incredible and the experience was overwhelmingly positive.

It was so different to what I had been used to with Charlotte’s activities. It was purpose built, bright and engaging. The staff were highly qualified in both gymnastics and child development. And the welcome was incredibly warm.

I loved The Little Gym so much – I just wanted to bring it to other Mums. We opened our Harrogate gym in 2011. Today, nearly 700 members come to Harrogate each week. And now, we’re very excited to welcome families to a brand new The Little Gym in Leeds.

It isn’t necessary for children at our gym to be good at sport, or to find fitness easy. We cater to every child as a unique individual. We nurture their abilities, encourage them to be involved, and help them to develop a love for movement without them even realising – they’re just having too much fun to notice!

We have parents that say they never learnt to do a cartwheel, and they always wished they had. They want their children to know what it feels like. The feeling of flying, upside down, feet whipping through the air. It’s a skill you have for life that you can take anywhere – in a field, on the beach – and carry that huge sense of joy with you.

And the children love coming each week. Some of them have little sleep charts at home and they count down how many sleeps it is until they get to come back to The Little Gym each week – “One more sleep, Mummy!”.

One of the reasons they love our classes is down to how imaginative our instructors are. Instead of climbing onto the vault and jumping off, the children are climbing a mountain and jumping across a swamp full of crocodiles. Instead of walking the beam, they’re walking the plank with Peter Pan on a mission to save Wendy.

We see children coming out of the gym after class holding imaginary things in their hands after pretending to collect feathers in the gym, and running over to their Mums and Dads saying “Look, Mummy, I have lots of beautiful feathers”.

And we love the role our gym plays in the community. Our parents revel in the chance to have a break for an hour, grab a cup of coffee, have a chat or get some work done – all while their kids are safe and happy in the gym. It is just pure parent down time, a bit of space to relax in a really warm, friendly environment.

We are excited to bring The Little Gym to parents and children in Leeds. We look forward to seeing you in the gym!

Kate Henebury