Monday, September 9, 2013

The My Gym Experience for Toddlers

How to Enjoy (and Afford) My Gym for Your Little Ones

Key: Avoid that pesky "Membership Fee"!



Believe it or not, B3 (now 15 months old) has never been in any program for little ones. No music, no story times, no mommy-and-me groups... nada (poor #3!). A couple weeks ago, after spending an afternoon signing the girls up for various activities, I looked over at him and felt a (big) pang of guilt! There he was, entertaining himself by throwing rubber blocks all over the place, and he didn't even know what he was missing. Sure, he loves hanging out with his big sisters, but I thought it was time he got a little special attention, too.

So today we did a free trial class at My Gym. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I knew we were attending an hour-long class for "Waddlers" (kids 14-22 months). As soon as we arrived, B3 knew this was something special. He started spotting kids his size all over the place, and he was curious to find out what it was all about. And he soon did.

We we all invited into a big room full of various toys and stations. Among all of it was climbing areas, ball pits, slides, trampolines, and balance beams. The class started out with free play, where the kids just explored everything on their own for 10-15 minutes. Then the instructors called the class to Circle Time, and together we sang some songs and did some stretching with the toddlers. After that, the kids resumed free play, but during the whole time the instructors set up different activities in the gym. For example, there was a cone/ring toss, "roller-coaster" slide, swings, and strength activities. It was actually quite a production! Each activity was set up for maybe 7-10 minutes, and it seemed the perfect amount of time for the attention span of the "waddlers". The class closed with another quick round-up, and then everyone was on their way.

As the hour went on, I wondered whether I would sign up for session. I had called ahead of time, so I knew how it worked, but I really wanted to see how the trial class went before I made the commitment. See, you sign up in 4-week increments that begin whenever you want (so everyone is basically on their own schedule), but they want you to commit to two 4-week sessions right of the bat. And the cost for 4 weeks: $86. Definitely not cheap. Plus, they hit you with a one-time Membership Fee of $75. When she mentioned this on the phone, I pressed her on it a little, and basically it meant that you pay this one-time fee, and you're a member for life (which essentially basically means you can hold a birthday party there. Not enough to sell me.). So I was really leery of this fee. That's a ton of money, and I wasn't prepared to spend $247 (basically $30/class) unless I was really sold on the place.

But again, as time went on, B3 started to warm up more, and he was trying different stations and becoming a lot more comfortable, and clearly having a lot of fun. And there were lots of other nice parents there. And while I was there, I started to soften. And I started considered joining (and how I would bring up the membership fee issue, because it was really bothering me!).

At the end of class, they asked those of us who came for trials if we had any questions, and they went over the details again. And they mentioned the Membership Fee again, and so I just straight up asked, "Are there ever any coupons for that fee?" and the very nice girl who was running the class said she thought there might be some in the lobby. We didn't see them at first, so my plan was to go home, scour the internet for some sort of coupon, and then sign up. And if that didn't work, I'd call the manager and let him/her know that I was really happy with my trial, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay that $75 fee on top of the already-premium tuition (and I'm not complaining about that. The staff and facilities were worth it). BUT THEN, I noticed some Open House Flyers in a different spot of the lobby, and sure enough, there were coupons right on it. And we lucked out! There was a coupon that included waving the membership fee AND $25 dollars off your first session. At that point, I was sold. And we signed up today.

So instead of $247 for 8 classes, we are paying $147, which comes out to about $18/class, and that seems much more reasonable to me. Would I have signed up without the coupons? I don't think so, but luckily we found them. FYI, it seems like all the coupons available on that flyer are for new members, so I'm willing to bet they're harder to come by after they've got you hooked). But at least we're set for now. 2 months of a fun activity for B3 and me.

Oh, also kinda cool: when you've got a child enrolled, you can bring all of your kids to three Open Gym times that are available (for free). Also, they're flexible about make-up days, so if your kiddo gets sick, you can come to class on another day.

Moral of the story: it never hurts to ask. They worst you can hear is "no." But I'd love to know there are future opportunities for savings, too. Anyone have the scoop on that?

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