Jumping for joy at The Little Gym
Your child needn't be the next Max Whitlock to get something out of gymnastics. We caught up with former French national ice skating champion, and owner of The Little Gym in Chiddingfold, Cléa Rosenfeld, to find out more.
When Cléa Rosenfeld was a child her world revolved around three things: ice skating, dance and gymnastics. She balanced school and study with cartwheels, leaps and spins – not stopping until she became the French national ice skating champion.
Fast forward a few decades, and as the owner of The Little Gym in Chiddingfold, gymnastics is back at the centre of her world. It’s a sport that’s been with her for most of her life, first as a little girl learning to do her first forward roll and cartwheel, then through her now teenage son Luca, and now as a teacher.
Her passion and enthusiasm for gymnastics – and its benefits for kids – are obvious. She’s seen first hand how the sport can help to build not just the obvious benefits like coordination, flexibility and body control, but also self-confidence self-esteem.
When Cléa’s son Luca was 18-months-old she enrolled him in her local Little Gym in Hampton. As someone who’d been sporty her whole life, she was keen to get him involved in physical activity from a young age.
Gymnastics is great for young kids – and her own son attended classes for many years – progressing through the different stages. He’s since gone on to become an athlete and now trains at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy in Spain. And Cléa says some of his success can be attributed to those gymnastics years.
Kids can start at the Little Gym from the age of 10 months. Those first classes are ones in which the parent takes part too – gentle classes that get your child moving and exploring basic motor skills and socialisation. Classes are generally about 45 mins.
When they’re 3, children move up to the pre-school gymnastics programme – which has fun classes like Funny Bugs and Giggle Worms, and then from 6 years, they’ll move to the primary school gymnastics where there are beginners, intermediate and advanced classes in which children conquer the mat, vault, bar and beam.
When I visited The Little Gym on a Friday afternoon recently the kids were clearly having a lot of fun. It was a Giggle Worms pre-school session made up of about 15 children who were split into three groups – each with an instructor – and rotating between the bar, the beam and the tumble section.
Parents and siblings – all wearing masks – watch through giant glass windows at bistro-style tables and chairs which had been spaced to two-metres.
It’s a wonderfully light and bright space, with walls painted in cheerful yellow and blues, and all mats in bold primary colours. The building is a former gentleman’s club, which Cléa completely renovated when she took it over and set up the gym. She now has plans to add a dance studio – so watch this space.
The Little Gym is open five days a week – with classes running on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday during term time. Sundays are for birthday parties, and during the school holidays there are themed holiday camps.
The Little Gym, Woodside Road, Chiddingfold, GU8 4QD