PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2016, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information.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.
Thank you to Chelsea Piers for giving me complimentary admission to the It’s the Pits class for the purpose of writing this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
I have only been to Chelsea Piers a handful of times since it opened in 2012. Since then, I’ve chaperoned a couple of field trips and my daughter has attended a birthday party or two. I can say with 100% certainty, that this facility is one of the most impressive “sports-tainment” venues I have ever seen – it’s HUGE. From the moment we walked through the entrance Miss C and her friend, Miss A, are awestruck. They literally don’t know where to look. I mean, there’s an aquatic center to the right that is splashing with activity, there are figure skaters to the left running through one of their routines, and we haven’t even made it to the “Welcome Desk” yet.
On one of the last days of Summer Vacation, we decided to try out one of Chelsea Piers’ Drop In Activities called It’s The Pits. Chelsea Piers provides a variety of drop-in “recreational activities for children and adults of all ages who are looking for a weekend, after-school or weekday activity.”
We arrived a little early to check out the venue and take a self guided tour of the facility. We parked our car in their giant (but, very full) parking lot, and headed in to check out the scene.
From the moment we walked in through the entrance, the girls are like “Woh. I love this place!” and immediately, to my delight, start running in opposite directions. Miss C goes straight for the glass windows overlooking the pools and Miss A is captivated by the figure skaters. I am the mother in the middle trying to herd her chickens through the entry hallway to the Lobby where we find a desk of exceptionally helpful Chelsea Piers staff members.
I tell them why we are here, and that “yes, I realize we’re 45 minutes early” and ask if we can just take a look around. They tell me that It’s the Pits takes place in the Gymnastics Center (I probably could have guessed that because the gymnastics area is now viewable to us and it’s filled with several foam pits) but I appreciate any help I can get.
Also, I should note that this place may be huge, but it has fantastic signage and there is almost always a staff member in sight.
The lobby area is the hub of Chelsea Piers. The All Star Cafe is located here. It offers a variety of food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Although we grabbed a bite to eat before we got here, we still check it out. As a parent, I am pleased to see things like whole fruit, healthy sandwiches, and salads. The girls make note of the cookies and the frozen yogurt. Needless to say, I am fairly certain that there is something here for everyone.
There are tables and chairs in a variety of configurations located around the lobby. There are people here eating food from home, parents waiting for kids, and kids waiting for parents -it’s a pretty busy area.
We continue our tour and check out the indoor fields, squash courts, I make note of the Top of The Game Bar, Miss C notices that there are TWO ice skating rinks, and Miss A insists that we take a moment to check out a ballet class in the Dance Academy. Both girls are a bit sad that they are in that magical age-range where they have outgrown the Little Athletes Zone, yet are still too young for the climbing walls of the Adventure Center. We all seem to agree that we should come back and try out the batting cages sometime soon.
Before its time to head down to the Gymnastics Center, we all make a pit stop at one of the conveniently located bathrooms. Since we’re in the bathroom, it’s as good a time as any to tell you how clean this facility is, and not JUST the bathrooms.
The entire Chelsea Piers facility is immaculate – and, I don’t use that word lightly. For how many people pass through these halls on a daily basis, I am always astonished at how well maintained it is. The words “world class”, and “state of the art”, get thrown around so frequently they tend to lose their meaning. However, in this instance it is an accurate description.
Chelsea Piers is first-rate in every way. Although you may be drawn in immediately by its good looks, there is a lot of substance here to back that up. Their instructors are top-notch and it shows – it is their mission to provide an unparalleled athletic environment that is always Clean, Safe, Friendly, and Fun. Lucky for us, we were about to experience that first hand since it was finally time to head into the Gymnastics Center.
The Gymnastics Center is an explosion of primary colors and movement. There are uneven bars, trampolines of all shapes and sizes, balance beams, climbing structures, soft play toys – you name it, it’s here. For a moment, I wonder things like “am I too old to learn how to become a gymnast?” Or, at the very least, “can I bounce on that trampoline?” There are children of all ages and ability utilizing every space. Despite this, the scene is far from chaotic – everyone seems to move around the space in an organized manner.
It’s The Pits is one of the several Drop In Activities that Chelsea Piers offers. Aimed at children ages 5-12, It’s The Pits is “60 minutes of fun. Instructors will lead the children through activities that will have them running, jumping, twisting and swinging into our foam pits. Children will also get to experience our tumble track, vault, bars, rope swing and Olympic sized trampoline.” Once our group was called in, I was directed to go wait on the Mezzanine level where I could go watch the girls. They look so sad to see me go.
If I wasn’t heavily immersed in documenting this activity, the child-free hour spent on the Mezzanine would have been pure joy. I could have grabbed a burger and a beverage at the All Star Bar & Grill, I could have enjoyed a quiet moment on a comfy chair enjoying the free WiFi, I could have even ventured to the Juice Bar located in the Fitness Center or maybe just grabbed a snack from one of the vending machines. (Parents are welcome to go anywhere within the facility while children are in the class, but you do need to stay onsite.)
I sacrificed all of this for the sake of writing this blog post, and to be honest with you – it was kinda worth it. Watching Miss A & Miss C dive into pits of foam was priceless. Their instructor was so kind and patient. There were three kids in their little group – all at different ages and stages in their physical development. Their instructor guided them along throughout the hour, challenged them when they needed a push, and cheered them along when they were having fun. For the most part, the class consisted of bouncing, jumping, and tumbling into foam pits. The girls giggles resonated all the way up to the mezzanine; to say they had fun would be the understatement of the century.
As a parent, I love watching my kid do new things and master new skills. Perhaps my favorite part of the hour came at the very end. As a final activity, all three of the kids were given a chance to try out the rope swing and jump off into a foam pit. Miss C was the youngest of the group by about a year or so, and she was having really hard time holding on to the rope and swinging. If C is anything, she is persistent and I could see her growing impatient and frustrated from the viewing area. Now, I know my girl and there was literally nothing that was going to stop her from trying to jump on that rope. With a lot of patience and cheering from her instructor she swung herself right into a pit of foam. Her smile was almost as rewarding as the pride that oozed out of both girls when I went down to meet them after the program was over.
Their cheers of “Again! Again! Again!” mixed with whines of “Do we have to go?” pretty much sum up their experience at It’s The Pits. This program delivered a jam packed hour of fun, and I was now dragging two very tired girls out to the parking lot.
It’s The Pits is just one of the many Drop In Activities offered at Chelsea Piers. There is also the popular indoor splash pad called the Splash Zone, Ice Skating, the Jump & Climb Zone, Gaga, Little Athletes Zone (with activities for babies as young as 6 months), and Batting Cages to name a few. They also provide Open Court Time in basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, and soccer. Each one of these activities has a schedule of availability and reservation policy. So although they are all referred to as “drop in” activities, we encourage you to check the website to see if reservations are recommended for a particular program. All these activities are open to members and non-members; however, members do receive discounts, complimentary sessions, and the ability to make advanced reservations.
Reservations are recommended for the Jump & Climb Zone, Splash Zone, and the Gymnastics & Parkour Programs. Members enjoy the benefit of being able to make a reservation up to 7 days in advance. Non-members have to call the day of to make a reservation. I have been told that the “busy times” are school vacations and weekends, and you stand the best chance of getting the time slot you need if you call when the center opens at 6am. In general, you have a pretty good chance of being able to book it the day of the activity as long as you call early in the day
Despite the name of the program, our time at Chelsea Piers was far from the pits. We had a fantastic time. I am definitely saving some of these activities for a rainy (or hazy, hot, and humid) day. The $16 dollars that this program cost was more than worth it, and that zonked out nap that both girls took on the way home- well, that was priceless.
Ally Noel is a regular contributor to Out and About Mom. She is a mom, a wife and an educator living in Norwalk, CT. Her personal blog, LuCk, includes everything from play-based learning activities to unique party and playdate inspiration. Browse all her Out and About Mom posts here. Find out more about Ally here.
Find a complete listing of their drop in activities here
The facility itself is open from 5:00am-10:00pm M-F 6:00AM-9:00PM on Saturday, and 6:00AM-8:00PM on Sundays, please check the schedules to find out the hours of each of the Drop In Activities.
It’s The Pits is $16 for Non-Members, and $8.00 for members. Please check their website for pricing on other activities
Stroller Friendly: YES
Coffee Mug Friendly: YES
Baby Changing Station: YES
Food for Sale: YES
Outside Food Allowed: YES
Cash Required: NO
Dress Code: For our activity, we were asked to wear clothing that they could move freely in.
Age Recommendations: This activity was reccomended for children aged 5-12. Other Drop In Activities have different requirements (starting as young as 6 months!).
Evening/Weekend Hours: YES
Discounts: If you live close, and find yourself at Chelsea Piers several times a week you should consider a membership
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