Friday, January 28, 2011

Gymboree of Forest Hills - Play & Learn Class Review

(EDIT: Please see my third and final Gymboree of Forest Hills review where I fall back in love with the place. So fickle, so fickle... but trying to be as honest as can be!) 

(EDIT: Please check out my Gymboree of Forest Hills - Review Part Deux too. I found some things to gripe about of course!)

I've been wanting to take Andrew to a mommy and me type class for a while now. It can be so hard to meet and get together with moms of other kids in the winter (especially when its always snowing and the standard apartment in the neighborhood is itsy bitsy), so I took him over to a free trial Gymboree Play & Learn class in Forest Hills last week. I'd heard mixed reviews of this particular Gymboree location and class, but Andrew really loved it and--as I'm a sucker for seeing him have fun--I bit the ($300) bullet and signed him up!

My little one just turned one year old and has been walking for over a month (the time has flown!), so he was in a Play & Learn 3 class with kids ranging from 10-16 months. The 45-minute class consisted of a number of group activities--rolling on a big ball (most of the children hated this one), making music, singing songs, blowing bubbles, playing with a big parachute, etc. The other children in the class were super-involved, but seeing as it was Andrew's first class, he just wanted to explore the wonderland of a padded play space (and the plugged-up electrical sockets of course).

If you check out the gallery on Gymboree of Forest Hill's Facebook Page, you can check out the play area and the downstairs music and art studio. While not humongous, the space actually is fairly large and isn't as small as the photos make it out to be, and Andrew had a ball tearing it up. There are tunnels to crawl through, ramps and stairs to climb, and balls to throw around. The only thing that got me about the space is that some of the electrical outlets, while plugged up, did seem like they were old (but I am neurotic when it comes to this.)

Each class is led by a teacher (they all seem to be young aspiring actors/musicians) and we had Miss Amanda who was very nice and extremely adorable. Miss Amanda also updates the Gymboree of Forest Hills Facebook page, which is a good place to find out about weather cancellations, upcoming parties, etc.

Lets get down to the dollars and cents of it: The class is $109/month for one child with (what I believe to be an uneccessary) 3-month minimum sign up period. The one-time registration fee is $40 bucks and the whole package includes free daily 45-minute open gym play sessions. The open play sessions are important to me because I could not otherwise justify paying basically an adult gym membership fee for Gymboree. If you sign up before February 28th, you'll also recieve $50 to use toward the class fees, $50 in Gym Bucks to use at Gymboree retail clothing stores (note: you need to buy $100 worth of goods to get $50 off; $50 to get $25 off), and a free set of Gymboree's super long-lasting Bubble Oodles.

The bottom line for us? We're going to enjoy playing at Gymboree until it gets warm enough for us to head outdoors. By the time it gets cold again, Andrew will be more secure in his walking and we'll be able to hang out in free indoor play places (McDonald's, etc.) and save ourselves a lot of money. If you've got the cash, though, or are in the same situation as us, I'd definitely reccomend you give Gymboree of Forest Hills a try. At the very least, you'll have had a free day of fun if you do a trial and you'll have checked out a great place to host an indoor birthday party for the under five set.

For more about Gymboree and their numerous locations in NY (and beyond) visit