BY JOELLAN MUYSKENS-CHANG
Running, jumping, swinging, and skipping aren’t activities found only at parks and playgrounds. Several indoor Bloomington “hot spots” provide respite from winter days and encourage young kids to remain active year-round.
According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, toddlers and preschoolers should engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity and 30 minutes or more of structured physical activity each day.
In the Near West Side neighborhood, the city of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department provides toys that encourage physical exertion, such as scooters and trikes, for their free Physical Fridays program inside the Banneker Community Center (930 W. 7th St.). Parks and Rec also offers Turf Time for Toddlers, a drop-in “open-turf” program at Twin Lakes Recreation Center on West Bloomfield Road ($5 or free for members). Children ages 1 to 6 can run, throw, and kick freely with parental supervision. “Parents love that these options are noncommittal and allow toddlers to interact with other children from diverse backgrounds,” says Leslie Brinson, the coordinator at Banneker.
Rising Star Gymnastics (5006 S. Rogers St.) also offers an array of structured classes starting at $33 per month and open gym packages starting at $35 for six weeks. On any given day, you might see half a dozen youngsters 1 to 3 years old wiggling and marching around a brightly colored parachute, singing, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” or 3- and 4-year-olds in the Shining Stars program rolling and swinging through the day’s obstacle-course stations. “Having stations allows the children to keep moving and make the most out of their time,” says co-owner Erin Booher. “We’re proud of our reputation of teaching gymnastics, but most importantly this program allows for socialization in an environment where children are laughing, playing, and being active together.”