If you had to compare between your own childhood and the current lifestyle of your child, what would you say is the biggest difference? One of them has to be the availability of electronic devices. Walking into the mall or eating at a restaurant, you are sure to spot at least one child hooked on to the screen of a mobile phone or a tablet. I’m not going to be the parent that judges here. Perhaps these children have limited screen time in place already. Nevertheless, the fact remains that these kids are definitely not as active as we might have been 15 years ago.
To back this up, say hello to Dr Nashila Jaffer, a chiropractic physician practicing for 17 years now, first in the UK and now in the UAE. A mother of two and the mind behind ‘We Rock the Spectrum- Kids Gym’ (WRTS), a recently opened flagship gym in Jumeirah. An indoor gym- playground for children of all abilities, and the answer to getting your child’s daily dose of physical activity in this hot and sunny Dubai. And I’m here to tell you what makes this place so different from the other traditional indoor play centres.
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN FOR WRTS?
Located in Jumeirah, at Beach Park Plaza, WRTS Kid’s Gym opened in December 2017. It’s the first in UAE, however branches of WRTS are already found in 5 other countries, with over 70 locations, a sign of a successful idea. What this Kid’s Gym is committed to provide is exactly what attracted Dr Nashila to open a centre here in Dubai.
Dr Nashila currently practices at Pure Child Health, a centre offering occupational therapy and speech & language therapy to children. Over the years of practice, she has been seeing more and more cases of developmental delays in children, such as muscle weakness, bad posture and also back pain at very young ages. Dr Nashila believes the reason for the sedentary lifestyle is the electronic gadgets, something we didn’t have to ‘play’ with when we were young. Our play time consisted of spending hours in the playground, riding bikes or playing tag. Nowadays, children not only start school at a very young age, but also have afterschool activities that has them ‘fixed’ in a structured routine. There is hardly any room for active learning and playing through movement. Parents, would you agree?
Research shows physical activity is particularly essential for young children, as the first five years are important in their growth and development. Early physical activity not only helps set up good exercise habits that they will continue into adulthood, but also helps with their mental well being, social skills and more importantly , movement.
THE SCIENCE-Y BIT
While writing this post, I happened to read up on quite a bit of research and I’m sure it’s going to blow your mind, just as it did for me.
Movement is essential when it comes to the development of children’s neurological system. Research shows that movement, especially of the spine, is required for proper brain function. Yes, the brain not only controls the body, but also requires constant stimulation, a constant input from movement to keep it charged and going. Lack of movement and decreased stimulation of the brain in childhood can also result in learning disabilities and concentration inabilities like ADHD.
So, next time you find your child running around the house, know that it’s good for him/her.
WRTS, IN DUBAI
Getting back to WRTS, and the reason Dr Nashila was so confident about it was because she saw how much her own two girls benefitted from it, when visiting the US. Once in Dubai, it became her goal to educate parents on the importance of movement, staying active whilst keeping in the element of fun for children. More so, because children here hardly get physical activity due to the long summer months of UAE. Having an indoor playground for children seemed the perfect answer. Hence, the first WRTS was opened in Dubai and the rest they say is history.
THE EQUIPMENT AT WRTS KIDS GYM.
This is the bit that sets this place apart from other traditional indoor play centres; the ten essential pieces of equipment found in every WRTS Kid’s Gym. These specialised pieces of equipment are designed to encourage movement and stimulate the brain. Allow me to name a few:
- The climbing structures enhances body awareness, bilateral coordination and helps the child coordinate his or her movements.
- The trampoline builds lower body strength, helps to teach balance and provides a full body workout.
- The zip line and crash pit, a firm favourite among all children, helps build upper extremity strength, muscle endurance, tolerate movement, and helps children with self-confidence, as they hang on long enough before reaching the crash pit at the other end.
Other equipment include the tunnel, the carpet swing, zip box with slide and swivel rotators, again designed to encourage movement and help with the spatial awareness, for children of all abilities.
So, while the children think they’ve been ‘playing’, we parents know that they’ve in fact been having an intense muscle workout. It’s what Dr Nashila calls ,”Play with a Purpose”.
Children as young as one year old can benefit from these specialised equipment. My daughter, may have been too young to use the climbing structures or slide across the zip line, however she made full use of the tunnel, the swings and had a go at the trampoline. Yes, WRTS also have the usual soft play toys, role play toys and costumes, and an arts and craft corner to help with the development of their fine motor skills and social skills.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU EXPECT AT WRTS KIDS GYM?
Open Play: Just like a regular gym, parents can turn up with their children at any time of the day, without any pre-booking, and make use of the equipment available to them. While there is also a ‘Drop and Shop’ option available, where parents can leave their children under the care of supervisors, they in fact encourage parents to play inside the gym with them. It’s not only great for bonding and building confidence, but also sets a wonderful example to the children about keeping fit. You can even drop your children off and head upstairs to Fitness First for a workout yourself, completely assured that your child will bee fully supervised having a workout together as a family together is a fantastic and holistic approach to family well-being.
Kids Classes: You will be able to enrol your children to various classes, such as fitness, dance and drama, dance fusion and math tuition. Watch how the children are able to improve their attention span, on task behaviour, coordination, poster, motor planning, muscle tone, and motor development.
Birthday Parties: Your child is going to be loved at school after having his/her birthday party at WRTS. No worrying about booking in a magician or someone to face paint, while getting the children to sit quietly in rows. WRTS has a special party room for the cake ceremony and treats. And after all that sugar rush, let them loose and watch them have fun whilst having a full work out without even knowing!
Rock Shop: Looking to continue that stimulation at home? Well then you can choose to buy from a range of sensory based toys, puzzles and books.
Calm Room: A dedicated calm room with a few books and teepee to wind down after all the serious workout.
AUTISM AND ADHD IN CHILDREN. HOW IS WRTS HERE TO HELP THEM?
Read here for more info about (ADHD) Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder. (http://www.werockthespectrumdubai.com/7-ways-we-rock-the-spectrum-helps-children-with-adhd/)
Read here for more info about Autism (http://www.werockthespectrumdubai.com/10-things-every-child-autism-wishes-knew-ellen-notbohrn-2/)
There seems to be a rise in children diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. The specialised equipment at WRTS is similar to the equipment used in occupational therapy offices to help regulate children on the spectrum who have autism, and show sensory processing difficulties. WRTS encourages parents with children on the spectrum to come and play together in a safe, inclusive environment with other children of different abilities, even if it is just for an hour. WRTS Dubai works very closely with Pure Child Health and run parent-child workshops at the gym to help educate parents about the development of your child. At times when occupational therapy seems very expensive, places such as WRTS are an affordable alternative.
FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Whether about an hour’s play, a 5 session play package, play dates or even a birthday package, you can get in touch with WRTS for more information.
Address: Beach Park Plaza Centre, Beach Road, Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE
Telephone: 04 343 2442, 052 219 7867
Mumzy Notebook and WRTS have partnered together to host a giveaway, where one randomly selected lucky winner will walk away with one 5 session play pass to be used at WRTS, Jumeirah. The giveaway will run be running on Instagram from 8th of April until the 14th of April. Head over to Mumzy Notebook’s Instagram page to find out how you can enter and walk away with a wonderful prize for your child.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Dr. Nashila, online research and the information available on WRTS website has helped me write this post. All views, opinions and photographs are of my own.
See Original Blog Post Here