Friday, March 31, 2017

Cirque-Ability's TinyTotCirque Class

Working on her trapeze skills
My daughter is a mover. She took her first steps at eight months and by 10 months was confidently running around. So when I heard about Cirque-Ability's TinyTotCirque class from another mom, I knew that it was the perfect program for her.

We recently wrapped the 11-week long class up and we're going to miss it. While each class was only 45 minutes in length (which was just the right amount of time), it was a big part of our week and I think my daughter got a lot out of it.

Cirque-Ability's studio is located in part of an old warehouse at 213 Sterling Road in Toronto. Sterling, located between Dundas and Bloor and just west of Lansdowne, is a former industrial strip that still retains some of its gritty character and if you're not used to the area (I used to live nearby) it can seem a little sketchy. But don't worry; despite appearances Sterling is actually a very safe street (and yes, there is ample parking).

The team behind Cirque-Ability has taken great care to also create a safe space inside the studio. While the floor is concrete and there is plenty of exposed piping, there are also mats and padding everywhere. Our class' teacher, Tee, was also very safety conscience and very skilled at grabbing a toddler who was about to tumble off a mat.

Cirque-Ability offers classes for a wide range of ages and skill levels. TinyTotsCirque is for one- and two-year-olds and accepts a maximum six kids a class. Our class only had three toddlers, including my daughter, though there were often only two kids a class (and once my Baby even had a private class). Three children was actually an ideal number because there weren't too many that it was unmanageable but the presence of other kids helped to focus my daughter's attention and gave her someone to imitate.

Just part of the studio space
Each class started with some singing, dancing and stretching to warm us up. How much the kids participated in this really varied but Teacher Tee's relaxed and upbeat attitude meant that no one got upset when a child ran out of the circle and towards one of the many tempting objects that occupied the studio.

Tunneling for fun
The bulk of the class was devoted to explore three separate circuits. These changed slightly each class though there were always a few standard stations. For example, we always got to go on the big trampoline and such standard circus apparatuses as silks, trapeze bars and rings were always incorporated in some way. Some of the stations were a bit advanced for the kids  my daughter was 13 months when she started TinyTotsCirque and the other participants were 15 months and 20 months — but the point wasn't for them to master how to say, do a handstand. Instead, it was all about exposing them to different objects and movements while teaching them key fundamentals.

Again, how much the kids followed the circuits really varied but no one got upset it a child skipped a station or refused to say, walk on the balance beam, something my daughter did until the last very class when finally, with a little help from her dad, she walked across that piece of wood.

I really appreciated how TinyTotsCirque had some structure but that it was also quite flexible. The kids were never pressured to do anything and the parents were never made to feel bad because our children were running wild instead of practicing their somersaults. The goal was always fun and if a kid happened to do a station correctly, that was just a happy bonus.

Just a word of warning: This class requires parental involvement. You'll be holding your child up to rings and bars, dancing alongside them and more than likely chasing after them (the studio is seriously filled with distractions). While it's not exactly a workout, you will move and you will probably have a bit of fun.

The next session of TinyTotCirque runs Tuesday, April 4 to Tuesday, June 29 from 9:15am to 10am and costs just over $200 before tax.

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