By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Westborough??”Massachusetts Gymnastics Center fosters a lifelong love of physical activity beginning with its youngest students.
The Center in Westborough offers preschool programs for children starting as young as 18 months old, continuing through age 5.
Parents can explore those programs during an open house for the preschool program on Thursday, March 13, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. at the Center, 74 Otis St., just off Route 9. During the open house, children will be able to sample the activities available. Registration for the spring session and for summer camp and programs started March 3 and is continuing.
“We think gymnastics is a way to boost child development and to combat childhood obesity,” said Leo Doran, co-owner with Michael Colarossi of Massachusetts Gymnastics Center, which operates six locations in the greater Boston area, and head of the Westborough location.
“Our goal is to get kids enjoying exercise. If those habits are developed at an early age, studies have shown children also do better in school, in participation in a classroom setting, and with self-esteem.”
The program for preschool children focuses on developing new movement skills and learning to participate in a structured program, not on competitive gymnastics, he noted.
The program starts with Twinkle Tots, for ages 18 months to 3 years, with a 45-minute class once a week, accompanied by a parent.
“This program is theme-based with a different theme every two weeks. Our spring session themes include Treasure Island, Let's Go Camping, and 3-2-1 Blast off! We introduce a new skill or position in each class. We demonstrate what to do, and the parent helps the child,” Doran said. This level also begins to include letters and numbers.
For children 3 and 4 years old, the center offers Shining Stars, a 45-minute class every week. Parents do not accompany their children in the gym, but can watch through large windows.
The themes continue, with an additional emphasis on making friends and what Doran described as “being a good classmate, learning to follow directions and not always demanding to go first.”
The spring session culminates with the end-of-the-year gym show celebration.
“Gymnastics is about progression. We are establishing a good foundation with these programs to transition to a more structured program as the children get older. These younger children are doing the basic foundations of gymnastics??”learning how to roll, how to maintain body positions and spatial awareness,” he said.
Massachusetts Gymnastics Center also offers extensive programs for older children. Students are assigned to classes on the basis of both age and skill level, with beginner, intermediate and advanced classes available for all ages. The Center provides the chance to participate on competitive gymnastics teams as well.
The Center has three 13-week sessions of classes during the school year. Enrollment for the spring session is underway now. Parents can also enroll their children now for summer camp, nine one-week sessions, with discounts available for multi-week enrollments. The summer camp, accredited by the state, offers a half-day program for ages 3 to 5, and both full-day and half-day options for ages 6 through 15.
The staff is mostly full-time, and all are professional gymnastics instructors, certified by USA Gymnastics, the sport's governing body in the U.S.
Massachusetts Gymnastics Center started in Waltham in 1974, and has grown to six locations serving about 3,800 children, Doran said.
Additional information on classes is available at www.massgymnastics.com, or by calling 508-870-0253 for the Westborough location.
Editor's Note: The preceding is not an endorsement and is presented for informational purposes only.