PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2012, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information. Please check their website for the most current information, especially about things like schedules and pricing. (Click through to their most current program brochure for details.) For winter 2017, Gym Kids meets Fridays from 9:15am to 10:45am; $2/child.
We got a taste of cold weather last week. At least it wasn’t snow in October, right? But seeing that white stuff got me thinking, I need to prepare a good rotation of indoor entertainment for this coming winter or I’m going to go a little bonkers!
Over the last year, Shawna and I have blogged about some great indoor activities. But in reality, there can never really be enough options. To that end, I was excited to find that the Elmwood Community Center (ECC) in West Hartford has a great toddler-sized drop-in playtime called Gym Kids.
Now, before I get into the nitty gritty, let me give you the highlights on why I like this class. . .
- Inexpensive: The cost is only $2 per child (residents and non-residents)
- Enclosed Space: It is held in the gym which is fully enclosed. Escape would be difficult (and believe me my children try!)
- Convenient Time: Throughout most of the year, it is held on Friday mornings from
9:30 am – 11:00 am, as of April 2015 the time is 9:00 am – 10:30 am.
- Variety of Ages: The program is listed for ages 1-5. Based on my experience, I think walkers ages 1-3 will most enjoy the playtime. The 4 and 5 year olds may be a little bored given the toys I saw out the day we visited. So if you are bringing along a preschooler, you may want to talk to the coordinator to see if there are other activities available for them (she mentioned to me that she has a variety of toys and equipment available and just doesn’t put out everything every week).
- Entertaining: The space is full of ride on toys, basketballs, slides, trampolines, etc. Plenty of things to keep your little one entertained.
Are you hooked? Well here are the details:
If you haven’t been to the ECC before, the first time you go it can be a little tricky to find. The address for the building is New Britain Avenue, but the entrance is actually off South Quaker Lane.
As you are driving down South Quaker, you will see a little itty bitty red and white sign indicating the turn-off for the ECC. The spot is pretty close to the intersection of South Quaker and New Britain Avenue (the building is basically behind the CVS on that corner).
Just look for the little sign and the street sign for Burgoyne Street. Turn down Burgoyne and then make your next right (more direction info is available here).Head down the road and you can either park in the parking lot on your right or you can pass the building and park in the lot at the bottom of the hill.
If you need to bring a stroller, that is definitely an option. Given the fact that I have two little runners these days, we are usually rolling into most buildings. This day was no different.
The doors to enter the building are automatic sliding doors which makes life a lot easier if you are pushing a stroller or carrying kids.
After you enter the building, head to the right and either push the button for the elevator or head through the door to the stairs. The gym kids class is held in the ECC gym which is located in the basement. Take one flight of stairs down or hit “B” in the elevator.
After you exit the elevator or stairs, you will see directly across the hall from you is the women’s restroom. Just a heads up if you need to take one of the kiddos to the restroom, they don’t have a diaper changing area.
Update: The restroom on the 1st floor (right across from the elevator) does have a baby changing station. So head up there if you need to change a little one. It is right next to the auditorium.
To get to the gym, make a right and head to the end of the hallway. To access the gym, you have to take a short set of stairs up to the entrance door. I left my stroller at the bottom of the stairs and had the kids walk. I did see some people (especially those with babies) bring the stroller in with them.
After you get inside, there will be a person there to collect your money and have you sign in. As I mentioned, the price is $2 per child. Bring cash.
By the time you are done checking them in, your kids will be off and playing with the plethora of toys available at the gym.
There is no formal structure to the class, it is simply a large room, filled with lots of toys. It is very casual and I saw families coming and going throughout the 1 1/2 hour window.
I have only been to the class once, so I don’t know if it is the same toys each week, but the Friday we were there they had . . .
Ride on toys . . .
Slides (our attempt at a synchronized slide photo montage was not successful) . . .
And much, much, more . . .
This fire truck was one of the hot ticket items while we were there. Bruiser and Sparkles stalked two little girls who were using it until they were done. My kiddos couldn’t wait to ride this thing. Sparkles hopped on the back and Bruiser escorted her around the gym. I was taking pictures of them and at one point Bruiser tumbled off and Sparkles just sat there chillin on the back. Made me laugh. Good news is that the gym floor is padded! (no child was hurt in the making of this photo montage 🙂
If you are looking for a good, inexpensive, stress free activity on a Friday morning, you should definitely check this out. Now through the end of the year they will have four more sessions on 11/16, 11/30, 12/7, and 12/14 (no class on 11/23). Then classes start back up in the new year on 1/11. Here is the full schedule. Check it out. Not only does it have the details on the Gym Kids program, but there are lots and lots of other fun activities for the little ones at the Elmwood Community Center.
1106 New Britain Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06110
(Please note: Even though the address for the building is New Britain Avenue, entrance to the building is not off this street. You can get there by going down South Quaker Lane and then turning on Burgoyne. See details from the beginning of this post or check out their website’s directions here.)
Check out their Facebook page for even more information!
Get directions here (Directions are to entrance on Burgoyne Street):
Schedule & Fees
The program is currently offered most Friday mornings from
9:30 am – 11:00am — As of April 2015, the schedule is 9:00 am – 10:30 am. The schedule is posted in the ECC’s catalog which is published twice a year. The current catalog is for the Fall/Winter schedule for 2012/2013. The remaining program dates are below.
Fall 2012: 11/16 – 12/14 (no class 11/23)
Winter 2013: 1/11 – 3/22 (no class 2/22)
Check out the full Fall/Winter 2012/2013 catalog here.
Cost per child: $2 (residents and non-residents)
You do NOT need to register.
- Playtime for toddlers in the ECC gym
- Variety of toddler toys and play equipment available
- Drop-in class, no registration required
- Fully enclosed space (great for moms of multiples)
- Kids age 1 – 5
Tips and Things to Bring:
- It is a very casual playtime. There is no structured activity. Feel free to come and go anytime during the 9:30 am – 11:00 am period.
- It is listed as an activity for kids age 1 – 5. The toys available for play, however, are more for the toddler crowd. The preschoolers may find the toys entertaining, but, if not, be sure to ask the instructor if there are other toys that would be good for the older crowd.
- On cold days, dress on the warmer side. It was a bit chilly in the gym area the day we were there. The kids were perfectly fine because they were running around, but I did notice that many of the moms kept their jackets on.
- Bring cash for the class fee.
- Restrooms are available in the basement level. You will need to exit the gym and go down the hall to access them. There is no baby changing area in the restroom on that level. Update: If you need a baby changing station, head to the restrooms on the first floor (next to the auditorium).
- Vending machines and a water fountain are available on the basement level.
- Stop and grab a coffee on your way there and enjoy it while the kids play.
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