As a parent herself, PHILOMENA CANNON-BROOKES knows it’s not easy to keep the kids away from screens, and also how important exercise is to develop motor skills (and make sure they use up all their energy!). So she set up Power Kids Gym, an air-conditioned indoor centre with fun classes for children aged four months to 10 years. She shares her experience of running the business and how kids can benefit.
Why did you start Power Kids Gym?
After returning from the US in 2003, I found that Singapore didn’t have the kind of kids’ gyms we enjoyed overseas. At that time, my three children were under the age of five. Children are meant to be active, and as a parent, I firmly believe that children who are physically fit are also mentally fit. My oldest child was also having some gross motor and coordination issues and so we looked into a number of programmes while in the US. We eventually introduced the concept that we now know as Power Kids Gym into the local market.
Power Kids Gym was started in December 2014 under the name of JWT Kids Gym, which was eventually changed to Power Kids Gym in 2016. It was done to better reflect the core values of our company, which is to celebrate the unique differences of each child and build their self-esteem.
Were there any challenges when you first started out?
Running a retail business is not for the faint-hearted. At the beginning, we had so many people telling us that we wouldn’t last as the programme doesn’t focus on academic development. But we persevered. We’re happy to say that we are part of the framework that empowers children in their physical and social development. This is now strongly linked scientifically with cognitive development and educational achievement. It’s been heartening to see many parents coming back with the younger siblings of our first students.
What are some of your most popular classes?
Our most popular class is Gliders (18 months to 2.5 years), where kids learn basic gymnastics like forward rolls and handstands, besides music and movement. For this age group, it’s usually the parents that are more wary to try than the children. This class is also great for the parents; it builds confidence in them to have their children try out moves and is good bonding time.
Another great one is Power Climbers (3 to 4.5 years), an independent class. It’s interesting to see how children react when they are left without their parents! Some always look around for mum or dad, while others tend to just play instead of listening to the trainers. It’s most rewarding when these kids eventually come out of their shell and perform on their own, or when they listen to the trainers and interact well with others.
Our parties are also very popular and are booked months in advance. We do a lot of active games with the kids such as obstacle courses, zip-lines, trampolining and bubbles. We also let the parents join in the fun and games, which they really enjoy.
What skills can kids pick up?
Apart from the sports and gymnastics side of the programmes, one of the most important things children will learn is confidence in themselves and how to interact with others. We appreciate the children’s learning development and celebrate their milestones, no matter how big or small.
Why is it important that kids stay active?
I believe that children are meant to be active. They are supposed to roll, jump, run and tumble. As adults, we’re also not meant to have sedentary lifestyles. I think it’s all about setting the right foundation so it becomes a lifelong habit.
Compared to before, children are leading more stressful lives. As they get older, they face exam stress, peer pressure, bullying and more. Exercise and being physically active has numerous benefits, both mentally and physically. The discipline of chasing a goal, teamwork and sportsmanship are great skills for a child to develop from a young age.
Any upcoming plans you’ll like to share about?
In the past couple of years, Power Kids Gym has expanded globally and we’re proud to have added outlets in Indonesia and Thailand. We plan to continue to expand exponentially, while keeping our core values intact.
Power Kids Gym
#02-12 UE Square, 81 Clemenceau Avenue
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