My Gym @ Buona Vista (Review)

Recently, I had been carting Eizac to gym classes at My Gym (Buona Vista). My youngest had yet to start preschool as I felt that we can afford to “play” a little longer; “roam” a while more.

At 3 years old, he is engaging in longer sentences and gaining independence wherever his legs allow him to roam! But no doubt, he is still building on his fine and gross motor skills daily and gaining confidence as he discover new ideas on how to complete tasks.

And so it was just appropriate when My Gym invited us to join them for a term of lessons. Eizac isn’t quite ready for independent lessons due to separation anxiety. So we joined the “Gymster” gym class which is tailored for 18 months to 3 years old. This is a parent-accompanied class. Age-wise I think he would be more suitable in the “Terrific Tots” class (3 to 5 years old), but he is too clingy to be on his own just yet.

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The entrance area of My Gym @ Buona Vista. Ample of space with small toys to entertain the little ones. Drinks and coffee available for sale while parents wait.

Here are some brief sharing of how a typical class goes:

We attended the first lesson during the Chinese New Year season and the theme for that day was centric on CNY.

It started with what I call a “Circle Time” where the main teacher for the day will lead a “Hi Hi Hi How do you do” welcome song. It is a catchy tune which the children can hum to it by the 2nd or 3rd lesson.

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Teacher leading the gym class for the first lesson we attended

Thereafter is a round of self-introduction of each child by their names. Eizac, being the oldest in the group, can whisper his own name when being called upon. Smile  All the other kids in the same class are much younger than Eizac, but you can see that most of the children do enjoy the attention being on them for the brief moment of introduction. This self awareness introduction is very healthy in my opinion. There are always at least 3 teachers in the class of 10 children + adults that we attended. The teachers also introduced themselves with much enthusiasm and bright smiles.

I enjoyed that next sit-down segment which involved imaginary fruits! The teacher would be “hungry” and ask one of the children what fruits would they like. Eizac always liked watermelon or bananas! Followed which, the teachers will lead us in action songs such as “peel banana, peel, peel,” “smash banana, smash, smash” and then we “eat them up! Open-mouthed smile Once again, the tunes are really catchy and the actions fun! Eizac re-enacted it at home several times!

After all the “high” songs, we will proceed to a floor or gym exercise with floor mats, loops or the likes.

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Eizac working on his back muscles and balancing while being pulled via a hula-hoop

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Teacher guiding Eizac on a tippy toes walk while he held on to just 1 finger. This is for balancing as well.

For each lesson, there will be some floor exercises, object learning, exercises on balancing beams and one of the children’s favourite – swings!

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Eizac loved the little swings which were hung from the ceiling structures.

Some of the balancing and core muscles exercises we did:

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Building on arm and core muscles while swinging from “monkey bars”.

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Teacher widened the mats’ gap for Eizac as he is much older than his course mates. He jumped over with 2 legs successfully and ended with a gymnast poise!

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Walking up a plank within a busy “airport”

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Teachers helping Eizac with hanging onto a rope. He went home telling him Daddy he was a monkey that day. Smile with tongue out

After all that gym works and etc, there will normally be an object learning session and/or a “quiet” time of colouring or “separation” time where we were not supposed to be near the children so that they can work on separation anxiety. This was kind of new to me! I have never experienced such a segment in other parents-accompanied classes. For a moment, I didn’t quite understand why all the parents/helpers sat far away while the children played with toys on a mat!  >_<

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Colouring to the Chinese New Year theme

Each lesson will normally end with a dressed-up teacher in a mascot or a short skit. During the first week, we had a monkey mascot which gave out red packets filled with chocolates! Eizac was a little upset that there weren’t anymore Mr Monkey giving out chocolates on subsequent weeks! hahaa! We met Ladybug and Henry the Octopus on other weeks. Smile

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Ms ladybug looking for a little child to land on & tickle his tummy! Open-mouthed smile

And the Top 5 things we liked about My Gym

1) The Teachers

The lively and engaging teachers are key to enjoying the lessons at My Gym. I was really impressed the teachers at the Buona Vista branch. Not only that they have to keep up with their energy level, they interact with the children very well. The teachers are encouraging and always cheered each child along the learning journey. For the “astray” ones who might not want to follow the lesson plans, some of the teachers will persuade them to participate or give them a little space when needed. For instance, Eizac wasn’t very keen in a rolling forward with a big hoop activity. Somehow he has a small fear of not being able to grasp anything when he rolled forward. The teachers encouraged him gently and assured that they will hold on to him. He tried once and wasn’t too keen for a second round. The teachers didn’t force nor condemn the reluctance; the whole “encouraging” culture was overall positive. It is also a plus that the teachers made the effort to remember each child’s name!

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Very lively teachers acting out 5 chick-a-dees song

2) The layout

We are greeted with different layout of the gym equipment every session. Though the materials are the same, the gym is set up differently each week. This creates a sense of “newness” for the children and parents alike. There is always that ball pit which every child loves to jump into and the trampoline which never fail to excite! The slides and balancing beams/mats which are positioned differently to create different angles and levels of difficulties. During the change of activities, we are free to explore the structures set up nearby. While waiting for your turn for certain exercises, the children can wander around the gym “purposefully”.

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One of the many different set ups for each week

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Trampoline! Sure to please!
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Eizac having fun in a make-shift “house” during the changing of activities

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Everything to like about a ball pit!

3) Songs and object learning

Though it is “My Gym”, they incorporated sing-a-longs, action songs, objects learning and quiet activities such as colouring. So, besides their core gymnastic strength, the children are also given time in arts and creativity, music and movement. It is not all brawns and no brains. Open-mouthed smile Eizac enjoyed the songs very much. He is always repeating the week’s songs or telling me about that ice-cream cone (object learning) that didn’t come with ice-cream! haha!

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The many dimensions of a cone! You can find a square, triangle and cone shapes. You can use it as a binoculars, a microphone or as an ice-cream cone! Smile

4) Gymnastics skills

Of course, it cannot be “My Gym” for no reason. Through FUN, My Gym provided the platform for developing those fine and gross motor skills so critical for growing up. Various gymnastic skills are emphasized such as hanging, tumbling, balancing and agility. Gymnastics had also been used as an avenue for children to instil self confidence and esteem besides building focus, strength and flexibility. I can testify to that! Every time Eizac complete a particular activity, you can see on his face that he is thrilled that he has DONE IT! He desires to be approved and encouraged that he had done well regardless whenever he succeeded in a complete tumble or he took a tumble! Open-mouthed smile Parents and care-givers’ affirmations are really important in their growing stage. And My Gym provided that platform for little ones to gain confidence as they execute gymnastics moves in a safe environment.

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5) Good timing

Lasting 1 hr session, I thought it is just about the right time span for a young child. Kudos to the teachers for changing each activity swiftly and seamlessly. I liked it that no one is kept waiting for an activity. For example, while there aren’t enough swings for all 10 children, some will be riding on Little Tikes cars and motorbikes while a teacher blew bubbles for fun! Smile

Eizac can’t wait for a ride every week!

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Eizac with one of his favourite “motor vehicle” while waiting for his turn in the swing

We are currently almost mid way through a term and Eizac is definitely enjoying himself during each lesson. It is evident in the songs he re-sung a few times at home and the recollection of the activities he did at My Gym. He will exclaim to us: “It is MY GYM; not YOUR GYM!” 0_0! We are looking forward to the rest of the term. Smile

My Gym is founded in Los Angeles, USA and works in a franchise form in Singapore. It has many accolades such as the Best of the Best Gym Singapore by ParentsWorld ( consecutive 5 years), best development play development by USA parent magazine and Parents’ Choice Award by the Parents’ Choice Foundation. It has presence in 36 countries worldwide and 6 outlets in Singapore.

As a parent, I will recommend this place for the younger ones to bond with their parents while having fun with fitness at My Gym. It is a good choice if you are looking for a fitness-centric program with snippets of cognitive and emotional development all-in!

My Gym @ Buona Vista is located at Rochester Mall which is a short walk from Buona Vista MRT Station. More information on their locations can be found here.

My Gym Singapore offers programs for children from Playgroup (18 months) through to 8 years old. School-based program with longer hours are also available at the Buona Vista branch for 18 months to 3.5 years old.

More details can be found on My Gym website and updates on their Facebook page. Check it out for promotions happening from time to time.

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N.B: This blog post is written as part of a review of lessons for My Gym @ Buona Vista. Photos and opinion remain writer’s own.

Day in a Life (DIAL)

Hopping onto this blog train initiated by a fellow mummy blogger – Justina – to share a glimpse of what goes on behind the scene of a Mummy’s daily life.

I have a mixed identity due to my flexi-work nature. While being able to arrange my work schedules around my family’s schedules, at the same time, my work also require me to revolve around my clients’ availabilities. So that brings about a really flexible work day 24/7, 7 days a week.

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Here’s sharing a typical Friday since I am due on the blog train on a Friday.

7am to 730am

On a good day, I wake up with an uninterrupted night. After migrating  Eizac out of our room, my night rest will depend on how sharp  my hearing is and how tired I am. If I am hyper-owl at night, I will still hear Eizac asking for milk at night and get out to help my mum make the bottle of milk or soothe him back to sleep. Now that both boys sleep with their grandmother, I am grateful for the more restful nights.

I am naturally an early bird but the kind husband draws the curtain every morning to let me sleep in a while longer. 🙂 Then, It’s a habit to grab the phone next to the bed, download the emails on the phone, do a quick check on FB and reply some messages which are sent in the late night. All these within 5 mins of waking up. Not the best of habits I admit; but it’s a habit as said. :S

Breakfast is a must for me. I don’t know how some can skip breakfast and still function. I am a irritable zombie if I don’t eat. Simple fare of coffee and 2 slices of wholemeal bread with spread, tuna, ham/cheese etc – I am good as long as there is food in  the tummy.

If the kids are not up at this hour, I get 30 to 45 mins to read the newspapers quietly with my breakfast. Simple luxury often taken for granted. I am a traditional sort who still read the good old, printed newspapers. Call me old-fashioned: Just like between a real book vs an e-book, I still prefer smelling the carbon print and getting my hands dirty. :p

8am to 9am

One or two of the boys will be up. Both of them normally sleep late and thus wake up later. I wish they do a regular 9/10pm in bed and 7/8am wake up. But they don’t and that is another different story on discipline to be able to achieve it…

As Xi En is in the afternoon school session, we idle the morning away by reading some story books or doing pretend play or forever getting ready for school.

10am to 1pm

These are my unofficial working hours. Xi En gets to school and my mum normally entertains Eizac at the playground so I get to work. If I am not out for appointments, I will be in my home office, replying emails, making calls, doing paperwork, checking websites, blogging and etc. The window of working is really short before Eizac comes back for lunch. We decided on having a helper about 2 years back as the household chores and meal preparations are just too time consuming for a family with young children. Either I stop working altogether or we have a helper. With much struggles, we agreed on hired help to ease the tension at home. It is not the perfect solution since both Kim and I are not comfortable with having a stranger share our home. But probably the best interim-solution till the kids grow more independent. Sometimes it is helpful to have an extra pair of hands at hand if you know what I mean.

If there is no urgent work, I like to use this window of time to drive my mum out to do some marketing. My mum is particular about buying fresh fish from her old neighbourhood in Hougang Ave 1. That market stocks the freshest fishes at good prices according to her and so I read on some food blog sites too. Eizac is at the stage of enjoying a marketing trip (more than going to the playground!); his favourite activity being to “pay money”. He is at a vocal stage now and totally enjoys blabbing non-stop on his thoughts, his findings, observations and more. We totally enjoy a gesturing and blabbing conversation with him these days.

We lunched out if we are out or if we are at home, lunch is a simple affair too.  I am a Teochew and thus is comfortable eating plain porridge with salted egg, preserved olive veg, steam tofu with salted soya beans, pork floss or just stir-fried veg with oyster sauce. Some days when I am in the mood, I make myself some cold soba, udon, salad or instant noodles with Ajitsuke Tamago (Japanese marinated soft boiled egg). Not quite your healthy options, but there are cheat and lazy days.

1pm to 3pm

Eizac watches his cartoons and then take his bath before winding down for his nap. That’s if he actually takes one. If I am home, he will insist that I nap with him. As much as I loved an afternoon nap, I try not to. That’s because I find myself lazier if I sleep in. Instead, I tasked my mum to take him for his nap! haaa.. She can rest and I continue my work! Perfect! But Eizac is quite clingy to me these days; so I try to get out of the house during this timing either for work or appointments. Last Friday afternoon, I attended an blogger’s event with AMC – a long standing brand of pots and pans. Food is another passion and I enjoyed baking that occasional cake or bread or whipping up some new dishes for the family. Anything to do with food piques my interest and I am keen to start trying out the new AMC pot which many older generations raved about.

3pm to 5pm

Xi En gets home around this time and as much as possible, I try to be the one (or his grandmother) to pick him up from the school bus. There is something about having a helper which I am yet to be comfortable with – that is to have the helper mind the children alone. Maybe it is the horror maids’ stories, maybe the children are still young, maybe I am just paranoid, maybe it is a combination of everything. As much as possible, we try to have a family member with the children instead of just the helper.

Xi En takes a second lunch/tea at home because he do better with smaller but frequent meals through the day. He is still underweight at 15.8kg for a 5-going-on-6 boy. His weight gain during his earlier years is hampered by poor appetite and made worse by constantly falling ill. The doctor recommended giving him a yearly flu vaccination due to his frequent bronchiolitis episodes and we decided that is best for him. Since his 2nd yearly vaccination, his condition had improved so much. He used to come down with the whole flu, cough, wheezing works every other month. Now, he is cleared for at least 6 months or more.

If Eizac isn’t napping or waking up from his nap, we will have 2 hyper active boys running amok around the house. Some days, we play hide-and-seek in the house. Other days, we do dough play, duplo, cars, pretend play and just about anything.

5pm to 7pm

Most weekdays, the boys get an hour or so playground time. They don’t play well together (yet). Xi En looks for familiar friends’ faces while Eizac chased after the bigger kids to try to be part of the action. We know many kids in the neighbourhood because my mum is very sociable and makes friends quickly; which is a contrast to me as I look more aloof and some say arrogant. :S

On a typical Friday, Xi En attends a Chinese enrichment class at Berries. We weren’t one who thought that enrichment programmes were necessary for preschoolers. But lo and behold, I realised that it is somewhat necessary if you don’t have the time to teach or the school teacher don’t have the time to teach or you don’t teach creatively. We ticked all those boxes. After Xi En’s first PTM in school, his teacher admittedly said that it is not easy to get much Chinese curriculum time in school given that Chinese period is only 1/2 hour to 45 mins max. Since then, I decided before he totally dislike his mother tongue, he need to learn it with a creative angle. And so that’s when Berries came into the picture.

While Xi En is at Berries, Kim and I used this time to park-tor (date!). We seldom have time alone without kids. And so either we share my favourite waffle or walk around the nearby mall together. More simple pleasures in life (after kids came along).

7pm to 8pm

If the kids are at home, after some barefoot, mad dashing around at the playground, the boys get shooed home and eat their dinner. We have a bad habit of allowing them to have dinner while watching cartoons. As much as we tried, we are torn between allowing TV so we can get them to eat more or forcing them to eat at the dinner table and get frustrated with them knocking down plates, refusing to eat, eating really little and etc. As much as we know what is right and recommended, after a day of work, we do take the easier way out so that everyone can have some peace. Do anyone have creative solutions to share here?

This is also the time when Kim and I can chat a little over dinner about the day’s event (or non-events).

8pm to 10pm

The children get their bath time and TV is switched off. We played a little or read borrowed books from the library during this time. Xi En is an avid reader though sometimes I wonder if he really understood what he read. He enjoyed mostly non-fiction books on maps, geography, space and sciences such as burps and farts and the likes! For fiction books, somehow weirdly he is hooked on mermaid books and stories lately. He just proclaimed he is getting married to a female school mate who is crazy over mermaids too. I used that opportunity to coax him to go for swimming lessons just like the mermaids he adores (he dislikes water on the face and breathing underwater).

11pm to 12am

Yes, both the boys only sleep at this witching hour. Eizac used to go to bed earlier but now that both are in the same room, they bounce around, ask for milk umpteen times, request for the last story, say that last prayer, smooch that last kisses and hugs before they eventually sleep. Night feeds are still on-going and so I prepared a tray of necessary items so that everything is at hand.

Xi En is learning to say prayers before he sleeps. A typical one goes like this:

Thank you God for the good day today. Please help Mummy recover soon (from a splinter in the finger). Keep us strong and healthy so we won’t fall sick (we pray this everyday with and for him since he is a baby). Help Eizac not to hit me (errm….). I love XX (our neighbour who has a collection of mermaid books). I like to married XX. Help Mummy to close more deals (He overheard our conversations.)Thank you Jesus for the good night rest and sweet dreams. And all God’s adults say Amen (we say All God’s little children; he improvises).”

If I didn’t fall sleep with them, I would catch up on some TV drama serials (yes, I am a drama person), Facebook, instagram, some miscellaneous work or pillow chat with the husband. Some days, my work brings me home only around this hour. But we actually do prefer such work arrangement, knowing that my boys are with their Daddy/grandmother and not left alone with the helper gives me peace at work.

12am to 1am

That’s my bed time on most days if I am not too tired out by the days’ events. I try not to work or blog at night unless I really have to meet deadlines.

And so that conclude a typical weekday for me. I am really thankful for a flexible work option which brings in some income and yet I can be around for my children, ferry them for classes, pick them up after school and spend some quality time with them all in a day. 6 years ago, I gave up a stable, salaried job and took up a fully commission-based career because I find life too short to spend in the office jus because I need to “clock the work hours”. Being my own boss isn’t a bed of roses, but I am thankful for the referrals, the support from friends, relatives and clients who get things going for me. Sometimes it sounds like I want the best of everything, but who doesn’t and try? For now, I am happy even if I don’t earn that million dollars or climb the highest corporate ladder. While the kids still want Mummy, I hope to be around to cherish every moment and celebrate every milestones.

Next up on this blog train in Edlyn (MummyEd)

Edlyn

MummyEd works from home whenever she has the chance to, but with 3 kids of ages 3 5 and 7 years old, those moments are few and far between. She blogs at http://mummyed.wordpress.com and has never been happier to leave the corporate world behind.

I play favourites

They say love is multiplied not divided. I totally agree.

When I was pregnant with Number 2, I did have doubt if I would love him as much as the love I have for my first-born. But all is crystal clear when he arrived.

He is my favourite. My favourite 2nd son. 🙂

Xi En, the big brother remains my favourite first-born. He holds a special place in my heart.

Eizac, the little brother resides in my heart like no other child could.

A little ironic huh? But it’s so true as I recalled a visiting pastor sharing about his 6 or 8 children. All of them are his favourites.

And so I play favourite to both my sons. They are both my favourites. 😀

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Today, 30th January 2015, marks Eizac’s 2nd birthday! His 1st Birthday was a non-event partly because it happened to be the eve of Chinese New Year. A galore of his growing-up photos here for those who are interested.

This year, here’s a short letter to him and little nuggets to share and remember eons later:

“Dear Baby,

We need to change that. You are baby no more. You are a little boy now. And you know it. You point to yourself and said with all gusto; “No baby; Boy!”. And nodded your head with a grin.

I love that look of yours. That innocence. But it is slowly changing as you approached TWO; some say it’s terrible TWOs; but I think the terrible or terrific happen throughout childhood. Let’s just pray you keep that untainted personality for a while longer.

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Just like your brother, we prefer to call you by your Chinese name, Kai En. But somehow, you responded to “Eizac” more readily. Later on, you said you are “Zig-zac”. And so zig-zac you became. Thankfully you still walk in a straight line though.

Zac-zac (another affectionate name we called you), you have a natural boyish love for cars, trains, motorcycles, vans, tractors, wagons and anything automotive. The first 3 syllabus word you learnt is “Ac-ci-dent”. Yes, when all your toy vehicles collide, there is an accident. It’s a happy accident most of the time because your fire engine/police car always come to the rescue; no cau. 😛

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Your first long sentence was “Mummy, where are you!!!!”. That happened when Mummy was too sound asleep at night and ignored your constant crying. She woke up with a startle because that was a full sentence you uttered!

You can be totally lost in your cartoon shows just like any other children. Your favourites are Dora The Explorer, Diego and Bubble Gubbies. You probably knew Dora and Boots names before you know your ABC. And your amusing imitation of Swiper the fox, is hilarious. “Oh man” you said with all gusto!

Your biggest hero isn’t Daddy (he’s a little broken-heated but I will take care of that). Your shining knight in armor is your big Kor Kor. The first word you spoke is “Kor Kor”. You said you love Kor Kor and no one else. Though Kor Kor isn’t quite used to being the big brother, we are working on that. Then again, you didn’t care less, you just want to hold your brother’s hand and follow his footsteps.

Baby (you will always remain so in my heart), you win Mummy’s heart (and almost everyone’s else) with your dejected look whenever something is taken away from you. You made it so hard to say No. Especially when you ask for your “meh meh” (Read: MILK) umpteen times in the middle of the night.

My darling, Mummy’s heart skipped a few beats whenever you scaled the long slides and steps at the playground. You have no fear of heights just like your brother. Great, Mummy will be carrying your bags and taking photos when you boys take the roller coaster next time. Just don’t drag me up. Seriously.

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Zacy, you are a joy we celebrate; a playmate (fight mate sometimes) to your brother and a completion to our family! We love you as our favourite and pray you continue to grow up healthily and wisely!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Eizac!”

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