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Gyming moves online

12 Apr 2020

Muscat gym for children offers online sessions in line with a global trend to beat the COVID-19 restrictions

The world is moving online following stay-at-home orders by governments in most parts of the world. Education, grocery shopping, socialising, exercising… it’s just a click away and Oman isn’t behind this global trend.

Among the earliest adaptors here were schools and colleges in efforts to keep the continuity and to ensure that children weren’t denied their most fundamental right to education. But music schools, yoga classes and even gyms for children weren’t far behind.

The Little Gym located in Suqoon Building, Azaiba, is keeping its members active during the lockdown. “We predicted an impossibility to go to the gym so we recorded ten weeks of classes in advance,” said Marcia Brazao, director of the gym. “Our online classes are free.”

Classes were recorded in the gym and uploaded to its YouTube Channel – ‘The Little Gym Muscat’. One new class is made available every week. “We share the links weekly, directly with our current members and we follow up with each one of them to check on everyone,” Marcia said.

The Little Gym incorporates a non-competitive approach to sports instruction in a curriculum aimed at developing children’s motor skills in addition to their emotional and cognitive ones. While The Little Gym in Muscat enrols children from ten months to 12 years, franchises in other countries accept four month old babies.

What started as South African native Robin Wes’s mission to teach children that there’s more to sports than winning has become an international brand with franchises all over the world. The first outlet of The Little Gym opened in Washington in 1976. At last count, it had 440 branches in 31 countries.

According to Marcia, The Little Gym Muscat wasn’t prompted to start the online classes as a result of client demand. “Parents did not ask for it. We decided to do this from the moment we realised temporary closure was a certainty. We were happy to find out that the international team was on the same page. They created a special curriculum suitable for a home environment in line with our teaching techniques and our three-dimensional learning,” the Lisbon native said.

 Asked if the classes could be made more interactive by having live online sessions, Marcia said, “We decided that would not work with our members; this was the best option. We made the classes as if they’re live and interact with the children through the camera. We have had parents sending us videos of their kids playing hide and seek with us, answering our questions. It is working great and parents are really grateful.”

Al Ansab resident Ramzi Mahfouz’s five year old son Marc is among the gym’s members now taking the classes online. “Marc enjoys the classes a lot,” Mahfouz said. 

Catrina Adams’ children Oliver, 3, and Sophie, 5, are staying active during the lockdown, too. “They love these online exercise classes as it is filmed somewhere they know with people they know and using music they’re familiar with. It has been the only online exercise class that they have completely engaged in and followed the instructions from start to finish,” Catrina said.

Oliver and Sophie have been asking to see their friends. “They find it hard staying in the house as they are used to going outside a lot and to lots of activities but they have enjoyed the e-learning from their school,” the MQ resident said. “Taking the day at their pace has certainly been good for Oliver as he is still quite young.”

Asked if online classes could be the new way of exercising once this pandemic is over, Catrina said, “For us, I don’t think so. They are good for now as there is no alternative but with gymnastics in particular, I think it is hugely beneficial to have the teachers there who can adjust their form and technique.”

Marc’s father Ramzi, too, hopes online exercise classes don’t become the norm post COVID-19. “But as long as we have no choice, we will have to follow and adapt.”

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