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The Playground Gym
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The Playground GymWhat’s to Love:  Jackpot!  I love finding places like The Playground Gym, which is a refreshing option when compared to franchises such as The Little Gym and Gymboree.  In my opinion, this is one of the best options for free-play, kids’ fitness classes,  and martial arts.  In addition to the kids’ classes, there are plenty of options for parents including an adult fitness class, boxing, and yoga.  I give The Playground Gym one of my strongest recommendations.  Please read more to learn about this great space for kids and families.

The Playground GymWe recently dropped-in for “Open Gym,” which was an opportunity for us to explore the many options at The Playground Gym.  During this session, our kids (17 months and 6 years) both had plenty of opportunities to play with various pieces of equipment including: physio-balls, foam wheels, barrels, and ramps, gymnast rings, rope climbs, rock climbing wall, and a very cool tree house!  While “open gym” might imply chaos, it’s definitely not a free-for-all, and a staff member is always on the floor with the kids.

One thing I like is that the gym has plenty of equipment, but it’s an open enough space that it doesn’t feel cluttered at all, and it’s completely spotless!  Where else could you take a toddler and a 6-year old child knowing they both will have a blast during the same class time?  Whatever the age, the friendly staff members will engage comfortably with your children.

The Playground GymThe male instructors/owners (J.J. and Casey) are not parents, but you’d never guess it!  They both exhibit strong skills with young kids and cleverly engage with them using different pieces of equipment as the icebreaker.  I observed both J.J. and Casey giving the class plenty of space to explore without pressuring or crowding the children in any way.  They both demonstrated and invited kids to give it a try, and if kids were not comfortable they quickly adapt and move on trying to interact elsewhere.  The instructors do not just stand around supervising the kids or talking with parents.  You can tell J.J. and Casey enjoy interacting and playing with the kids.

The Playground GymJ.J. and Casey both share a background in mixed-martial arts; thus, they bring a wide variety of physical skills to the gym.  They share decades of coaching, competing and working with highly trained athletes in many different physical disciplines including wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and boxing.  These arts have practical elements that can translate well into kids’ fitness courses such as: balance, dexterity, body-awareness, concentration, agility, flexibility, trust, respect, commitment, building confidence, etc.

Caveats:  It’s on Grand Avenue in a pretty busy area of inner-Northeast Portland.  Parking might be a challenge, but they have 18 spots available in their parking lot on the west side of the building accessed off of MLK.  

WebsiteThe Playground Gym

Distance from Portland:  Within 1 mile of downtown Portland.  Here is a link to a Google Map.  Note that the map says that Glisan Street is on the south side of the building.  The road signs off Martin Luther King and Grand both say Lloyd Blvd, which it later becomes heading further east.  

Recommended Ages:  All ages…there is something for everyone from toddlers to teens to adults.  Talk to their staff members to find the class that best suits your family’s needs.

Parental Stress Factor:  Low stress.  In any type of environment like this, there is potential for kids to get hurt, which stresses some parents.  However, at The Playground Gym, all the equipment is brand new, the facility is super clean, and the staff members are total professionals.  For me, it’s just plain fun!

Physical Difficulty:  It’s exercise – it depends on the class and the type of workout.

Family Fun Factor:  Open Gym and Explorers are both classes that can get multiple family members involved.  Here is a direct link to their schedule.

Pet Friendly:  N/A

Weather Considerations:  Perfect option for a rainy day!  

The Playground GymInsider Info:  Drop-in or call to try a free class!  They are willing to let your child try out the place before you commit to a course and/or membership.  At the gym, they have coupons for a free class, which you can pass along to your friends.  This is definitely a great activity to do with another family or friend.

The Playground GymDon’t want kids tearing up your house at the next birthday party?  The Playground Gym offers birthday party celebrations, and I think this would be an awesome location for such an event.  The staff can either let kids have an open-play format, or can provide organized activities.   Their pricing is very reasonable!

The Playground GymFamily Tips:  Bare feet or socks are fine.  There are plenty of cubbies for coats, shoes, and socks.  Wi-Fi is available to parents while their kids are in class.

They have a drinking fountain and encourage the kids to get some water.  However, I recommend bringing your own water bottles for your kids.  There are no snacks on the premises, so you might want to consider bringing a few things for before and/or after class.  Make sure your kids keep their shoes, food and drinks off their green mat where the kids play.

[myebay]playground equipment[/myebay]

Technorati Tags: playground, gym, kids, fun, martial, arts, fitness, classes, yoga, innovative, children, open, gym

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17 Comments


  1. The article is right on. Our two kids (3 and 8) absolutely love it there.

    The owners are caring, fun, knowledgeable and friendly. They know exactly how to create a comfortable environment that challenges while it stimulates. Our daughter in particular has learned a tremendous amount, from hanging on the circular bar thingys and twirling around to climbing the rock wall.

    It been a fantastic growth experience and I highly recommend it.

  2. We did a birthday party last Sunday and it was great! We have since been back for open gyms and really enjoy having a family option when the weather is not so great.

    • Thanks for the comments. We're going there for a birthday party on December 5th, and we're really excited. I'm sure the kids are going to have a blast playing with all the gear.

  3. Fantastic experience. Above reviews are accurate. Kids love it (shhh, just don't tell them it's educational), the coaches are super fun, the atmosphere is supportive yet challenging. It's been a wonderful experience for my family–especially on a rainy day!!

    • Thanks for the comment Peter. I just brought my son back for a birthday party this past weekend, and the kids had a blast. There was a perfect balance between “free play” and guided activities. The staff interacted well with the kids. Definitely recommend it for birthday parties as well.

  4. We drop our kids off there Friday nights, go on a date, come back and they're pooped. They look forward to going Fridays, and it gives us time out without a babysitter. (They also sleep late Saturday from all of that playing, climbing and running around). Super safe, comfortable and fun place. Thanks for your article!

  5. That is an amazing thought by you. I am gonna try it out for my kids, no doubt it will be little bit expensive but in the end my kids will be able to maintain their exercise routine in a row. Thanks

  6. Nothing like starting off my day reading and learning about something cool. Your blog post accentuated my breakfast perfectly! Thank you 🙂

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