Get Them Moving!
Apartment-living, high humidity and bouncy toddlers… Who knew it wouldn’t turn out to be a recipe for peaceful, serene living? Luckily, if you are looking for opportunities to let your little angels have a break from scaling bookshelves, vaulting off sofas and practicing their discus throwing skills with your cushions, Hong Kong has a dizzying array of options.
Outside the brilliant free government soft playrooms, there are also numerous sports classes on offer for the under 5s crowd. These are places where your small people can burn off some of that boundless energy, develop their gross motor skills and begin to socialise. And, fingers firmly crossed, perhaps all that physical activity might even help them sleep a little better at night…Well, you can hope! Here’s a run-down of some of the best sports programmes and classes around.
Hong Kong’s largest indoor family entertainment centre, EpicLand features 14,000 square feet of pure exhilarating fun with the largest indoor slides and the only Air Trek in Hong Kong. In addition to their incredible play space, the centre hosts a wide variety of classes including Rugbees (suitable for 2-5 year olds); Cheernastics, a fun class mixing up cheerleading and gymnastics (ages 4-5); Baby Jazz (ages 3-4); Hip Hop classes (4-12 years) and Zumba for kids and mums. For more information on times and classes, take a look at their website.
ESF offers a comprehensive basketball programme for school-age children, but for little ballers, they also have their weekend cubs programme which aims to develop movement fundamentals skills, using small soft basketballs and baby baskets.
Location: Currently offered at Kowloon Junior School
Operated by the team from Kinder Kicks the sessions use lots of games to improve hand-eye co-ordination and the children are taught how to catch, throw and dribble the ball.
Location: HK Island (YWCA Central), Kowloon (including Kowloon Cricket Club) and Tung Chung, Lantau
Age: Walking +
Tinytots sports classes use lots of fun and games to help promote physical fitness and develop gross motor skills. Their hour-long basketball sessions focus on developing sport-specific skills, as well as teamwork, co-ordination and listening skills.
Location: Currently offered at the Stanley Ho Sports Centre, Pok Fu Lam, HK Island
Alongside its range of other great children’s classes, the YMCA has teamed up with the Hong Kong Basketball League Division A1 EAGLE Team to develop an on-going training scheme that looks to develop young players into the professionals of the future. Instruction is in Cantonese, although can be supplemented in English, and for more information you can email: [email protected]
Location: TST, Kowloon
If you have a mini mover or shaker on your hands, then you are really spoilt for choice in terms of dance schools in Hong Kong. With branches across the territory, the Jean M Wong School of Ballet and the SDM Ballet and Jazz Acadamie have proven to be ever popular choices, and children as young as 14-months can start fun introductory ballet classes at Kids Gallery Creative Arts in both their HK Island and Kowloon centres. Some of the other dance schools specifically catering for under-5s are:
In addition to their ‘Little Swan’ programme, that teaches simple ballet technique to children aged 3 – 5, this company also offers classes in Korean-Pop dance, Chinese dance and Creative Modern dance for energetic pre-schoolers.
This free-flowing dance class gives pre-schoolers an opportunity to bust some moves to an eclectic mix of music, ranging from Latin beats and jazz to hip hop. The aim of the class is to provide a chance to have fun whilst releasing some energy, as well as develop co-ordination, listening skills and even teamwork.
Location: Mid-levels, HK Island
The ‘Mommy and Me’ ballet classes on offer here are designed to introduce movement and music in a fun and relaxed environment – and it isn’t just restricted to mommies either – daddies and helpers are very welcome to dust off their dancing shoes too! For slightly older kids, ballet, jazz and hip-hop classes are also on offer.
Location: The Peak, HK Island and Clearwater Bay and Sai Kung, New Territories
Age: 18 months +
As well as offering ballet and jazz classes for children aged 2 and older, Twinkle Dance also offers play-based ‘Ballet with Mommy’ classes, for parents and their little dancers from 14-months up.
Location: Various locations on HK Island and also in Tung Chung, Lantau
Age: 14 months +
If you think the idea of letting your pre-schooler loose with anything even remotely resembling a sword sounds vaguely alarming, I daresay you are not alone, although these well-supervised fencing classes aim to teach good sportsmanship, self-discipline and co-ordination. Add this to the fact that your little one will look like a mini-Musketeer, and surely that sounds worth checking out? En-guard!
Location: Fo Tan/Sha Tin, New Territories
If your toddler loves to jump, swing and climb, one of Hong Kong’s specialist children’s gyms may be just the place for them. With lots of age-appropriate equipment and specially trained staff, children from the age of just 6 months can join in the exercises and begin to develop their body awareness.
Ever popular amongst these centres, with both parents and kids alike, are Rolly Pollies in Causeway Bay, My Gym in Mid-levels and TST and The Little Gym in TST. The newly opened Kiddynastix in Sheung Wan also has classes that combine gross and fine motor skills activities with language teaching, and there is a chance for kids aged 3 and older to join their Kids Zumba lessons too.
In addition to these gyms, you can also find a range of specific toddler classes, which can progress into more serious gymnastic training at a later stage:
Sportscene offers a variety of fun classes, but it is best known for its gymnastics training. Starting with 2-year olds, the classes teach the basics of balance, co-ordination, flight and flexibility through fun games and activities, whereas 3-year olds begin to work on basic floor exercises. Instruction is mainly in Cantonese, but can be supplemented with English.
Location: Causeway Bay, HK Island
Happy Valley Gym Class
Gym class taught by a qualified physiotherapist and focusing on balance, opposites, reaction, rhythm, body orientation and relaxation using games that incorporate balls, balance pad-rope- foam pads, tunnel, music and sensory pads.
Location: Wong Nai Chung Sports Centre, Happy Valley, Tuesday 4-5pm
Age: 1.5 yrs old or walking to 3.5 yrs old
This gymnastic course was developed by Mr. Danny, a former international gymnast and judge, and is taught by experienced and certified coaches. The classes are designed to introduce small children to movement, co-ordination and balance, and children get to try out their emerging skills on the gym apparatus.
Location: Hong Kong International School, Repulse Bay, HK Island
Age: 2.5 +
For over twenty years, Multi-Sport’s Gym for Tots course has been helping to develop the gross motor skills of walkers through to 3-year olds. Pre-schoolers can join the Gymnastic Programme, where they will get chance to practise all the basics – with particular emphasis on floor work, tumbling, beam, trampette and vaulting – in a safe and fun environment. If jumping to great heights is more your little one’s thing, they may want to enrol in the specialist Trampolining classes.
Location: Jardine Campus, Lycée Français International, Hong Kong Island
Age: Walking + for gym classes, 3+ for trampolining