Mighty Tykes gymnastics aims to build kids’ strength, add confidence
by Steven Felschundneff | email@example.com
For those looking to channel their inner Simone Biles, a new Claremont business has your ticket. The only catch is you must be able to count your age on two hands, and maybe a couple of toes.
Mighty Tykes Gymnastics launched this September with age-tailored classes for toddlers and children up to age 12 at the Hughes Community Center.
For now, Mighty Tykes owner Tanya Hazen personally teaches each class, but will soon be adding more instructors as the program gains popularity. December enrollment is going on now and class sizes are limited to just six students for the younger children, ages 3 to 6, and eight pupils per class for the older kids. So far the program has been popular, with about 90 students enrolled.
“Our Mighty Tykes Gymnastics program is designed to introduce young children to the exciting world of gymnastics in a safe and supportive environment. Through a combination of fun activities, games, and age-appropriate exercises, we aim to foster physical, cognitive, and social development while promoting confidence in our little gymnasts,” according to Hazen’s website.
Current offerings include a class called Sidekicks, where toddlers at the walking stage of development learn basic physical skills with a parent in tow. According to the Mighty Tykes website the class activities help children with the “development of gross and fine motor skills, sensory exploration, cognitive growth, and social interaction.” This class accepts up to 10 pairs and is offered five times per week.
“We work on fundamentals of gymnastics, balancing, they start to experience rolling, they start to experience fine motor skills and gross motor skills, on the bars hanging, gripping going upside down and getting comfortable with their body,” Hazen said about the Sidekicks class. “And all of those types of things are proven to be extremely helpful for kids as they go to preschool. They are learning how to socialize with other kids.”
Classes like Sidekicks can even help with literacy and getting children ready to read, Hazen said.
“There is so much research that has been done proving that rolling and going upside down and crossing mid lines really helps kids when it’s time to get ready to read in school,” she said. “We are of course teaching physical skills, but we are teaching much more than that; it’s gymnastics that is educational.”
From there, students can progress through several levels, including preschool for ages 3 and 4, pre-K for ages 4 and 5, and beginning for children 6 and older. There is also a tumbling class for students older than 6.
“As the kids get older they start in the preschool gymnastics class that’s designed for kids that are 3 and 4. That is when kids go into structured classes without their parents.” Hazen said. “We do balancing, bars, basic tumbling for the little preschoolers. They are identifying numbers and colors, they are waiting their turn in line, they are learning how to be in the class setting for the first time. It’s really interesting to see how they adapt and how that can prepare them for school and playground readiness, and their confidence on the playground.”
Hazen emphasized that, although some might think gymnastics is just for girls, the classes are very much open to boys as well.
Mighty Tykes also offers a class designed specifically for special needs children ages 6 to 12. This class encompasses the same goals as all Mighty Tykes offerings but with activities tailored to children with diverse abilities in an inclusive and supportive environment. There is one session of the special needs class offered in December, but Hazen said it has been so popular that when the winter/spring class season is announced she will expand to three classes.
Hazen started gymnastics when she was 3, and as she grew, began competing. She has been teaching both competitive and recreational gymnastics for about 22 years, including work as program director for large studios in Los Angeles. She started coaching when she was a student Cal State Northridge, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and child development.
She recently moved to Rancho Cucamonga to start a family and says the timing seemed perfect to start her business.
“My heart is really in recreational gymnastics because I do believe it is the most foundational sport that there is,” Hazen said. “It’s a sport that gives kids skills to compete in any athletic sport they decide to do after.”
She decided to launch her business here in part because she loves the community but also because the Claremont Human Services Department was able to offer her storage services at the Hughes Center for her mats and bars.
“I have 17 classes I believe so I am there quite a bit, and it would actually be impossible for me to take my mats with me every day and my bar,” Hazen said.
Speaking of Biles, Hazen said her goal with Mighty Tykes is not to see one or two students make it to the Olympics, but rather to build skills, confidence, and strengths all her students can use throughout their lives.
“I really believe that when kids learn resilience, hard work, but they are having fun while doing it, it encourages them to stay with it. And then they experience the importance of finding success in what they are doing and not worrying about what the person next to them is doing. It’s preparing them for real life,” Hazen said. “If they can do hard things in gymnastics, they can do hard things in real life. Our motto is ‘Build strength and spark confidence.’”
To register for December classes visit mightytykesgymnastics.com or the City of Claremont’s class registration page. Winter and spring 2024 Might Tykes offerings will begin in January, with registration next month.