An Interview with J.J. from The Playground Gym
November 15, 2009  |  General Info./Homepage
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Why did you start The Playground Gym and what makes it unique for kids and families?

J.J. responds: Both Casey and I have worked with kids for years and have developed a great passion for it. We’ve been in and around the fitness industry for some time, and we repeatedly heard from parents that Portland lacked a multi-use family hub that was locally owned and had a real “Portland” feel.  We also heard that athleticism and the value of active play have been taking a back seat to other (often occupational) pursuits in today’s educational environment. I’ve long believed that physical play not only encourages healthy lifestyles, but is a fantastic vehicle for creative, social and cognitive development.

It is also our explicit desire to strive to not only be good coaches, but to be good mentors to our kids and allies for our parents.
Your schedule says “Kids Martial Arts.”  Can you be a bit more specific about what kids will learn in that class and how you teach the skills?

J.J. responds: Our Martial Arts curriculum is primarily a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program, although we do occasionally blend in other arts to keep the skill sets fun, relevant and diverse. It has been our experience that kids tend to like the belts and uniforms and BJJ is a great vehicle for that.

As for the “how” we teach our skills, we are believers in a program one of our BJJ coaches developed to teach kids in mixed martial arts called “Play as the Way.” While we have developed our own curriculum and have invented ways to leverage our unique facility and equipment, we are definitely influenced by our exposure to this games-based program. We really believe that our program is unparallelled in the area for the skills kids can gain. For more info on PAW, you can check out these links.


I think some parents have a hard time finding things to do with older kids and teens.  Do you have anything on the schedule that’s a good fit for kids 10 and older?

J.J. responds: Our general curriculum is geared towards kids up to 12 years of age. Our Boxing and Adult Fun Fit classes are perfect for teens, and we do actually have a few teenagers enrolled. We’ve talked about having teen-only classes such as a Teen MMA program, and if there was enough interest than that is something we would consider adding to the schedule in the future.

I’ve heard you have some pretty innovative summer-camp programs.  Would you like to share what you have planned for this coming summer?

J.J. responds: We had some super fun summer camps last summer and we hope to build on the more successful ones in 2010. We will definitely do another Martial Arts camp and Circus Camp as those were our most successful and well received. We are planning a Bicycle Camp where campers explore the city by bike, but uses our centrally located gym as home base. We also ran a sports skills camp last summer that was rather successful, and we’re working to pair with the Portland Winter Hawks and/or Blazers to make that even better. We’ll likely do an arts camp this summer as well.

If I want to attend classes as a parent, and I want my kids to attend classes, what is the best option in terms of classes and/or a membership?
There are multiple memberships available to suit different family needs, all listed  on our website. That said, for everyone to take classes, the base rate is $80/month for the first individual, $60 for each additional. All Open Gyms are included with membership. A family Gold membership (unlimited classes for up to 4 individuals) is $375/month. A Family Unlimited Play (limited to Open Gym times only) is $150 down and $63/month for a year and includes 20% off classes.

Other Posts of Interest...

Elemental Fitness Lab on January 8th, 2012

Wapato Access Greenway on November 28th, 2010

Columbia Park on June 15th, 2009

1 Comment

  1. Super! The Playground Gym was the find of a lifetime! We're completely thrilled with it. Our daughter (who has a slight physical disability) has noticeably improved physically. I cannot possibly write how grateful we are to JJ and Casey. Thank you!!

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