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Archive for February 2015

At My Gym We Are Terrific!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

It's not easy to find a perfect extra-curricular activity for your child. And by perfect I mean: something your child will enjoy, something you as a parent find beneficial and/or educational, fits into your AND your child's schedule, reasonably priced, a place where your child will be safe and can socialize at the same time and relatively close by in terms of distance. This is not an easy task for any parent!

So, as I was wrecking my brain for the millionth time, trying to fit a simple trial class into our kids' and our busy schedule (you may have already red my previous story on "The Pure Joy of Free Play" ), my friend called me and told me about this wonderful place called My Gym Children's Fitness Center, a.k.a. My Gym. "What's My Gym?, I asked her. "It's great, I take my daughter there. They have swings, warm-up, good exercise, etc..", she tells me (her daughter is 1+ now). Very interesting, I thought. We often talked with my husband about signing up our son for gymnastics, so why not try this place out. I called and scheduled a free trial class for my boys (ages 2.5 and 3.5).

As soon as I walked into My Gym, I knew this place was a winner. As a parent (and especially with your motherly instinct), you just know when something is so right for your child. And this place was more than right, it was perfect!!!


My Gym is a wonderful facility and fitness center. (By the way, this is not a paid advertisement.) It is a fitness center for children ages 4 months to 13 years of age, designed to help children develop physically, cognitively and emotionally. Remember in the very beginning I said that I was looking for something fun, benefical and educational at the same time? Well, check, check and check!!! At My Gym, programs and classes are structured and tailored to each age group. The weekly classes incorporate music, dance, relays, games, special rides, gymnastics, sports, puppet shows and much more! Children have tons of fun jumping into the big ball pit, jumping on the trampoline, climbing ladders, doing somersaults, while gaining strength, balance, coordination, agility and flexibility. And yes, as you must be thinking, your child will spend all his/her energy in a healthy way! What's more, is that at My Gym, your child will also develop social skills, gain confidence and self-esteem. What more could you ask for?!

The Facilities
As I mentioned already, kids enjoy a large spectrum of activities, ranging from gymnastics to puppet shows. For these to be fun, effective, and most importantly safe, you need to have a state-of-the-art facility. But don't worry, My Gym has it all covered:)! It is not a huge place, and fairly compact, which is what I love about it. All of the gymnastics, jumping, climbing equipment is always set up in a safe way so that children will not get hurt (regardless how rough they play). All children must be barefoot at My Gym for safety reasons, to avoid slipping and falling. At first I was very hesitant to let my child go barefoot, but after a closer inspection I realized that it is done for a good reason - safety. And the facilities are extremely clean and well taken care of. There hasn't been a single complaint yet. The floors are carpeted and it's always warm, so you don't need to worry about your child being cold. My boys always run around barefoot and in t-shirts! And, most importantly, every week the equipment set-up is changed around or replace so kids can enjoy a 'new way' of playing:)!

Now, for all the fun, games, special rides and gymnastics, here is what your child will be exposed to:
climb as much as you want
ride the spaceship (zip lining)


BALL PIT - a favourite of mine:)
look at all those different tunnels!

a safe, educational, and fun way for infants to play and develop gross motor and social skills

and of course, let's not forget the trampoline!!!

The Staff
Until about a week ago, this is what I knew about the staff: they look so fit!, they are fun, they really cater to the kids, they know how to work and have fun with kids while teaching them strength, balance and coordination skills, so they must be trained. When I looked into the staff qualifications, here is what I found: most teachers have 5+ years of experience coaching children, many have and ECE (Early Childhood Education) designation, and most have some kind of accreditation in child development and/or fitness training. And believe me, you can tell from the way My Gym teachers play and work with kids!

Classes & Programs - Keeping Children Healthy by Making Fitness Fun
In a nut shell, My Gym has the reputation of being the best early learning program of its kind. Classes are limited to 15 kids maximum to maintain an excellent student/teacher ratio. There are always 2 highly trained teachers leading each weekly class. My Gym programs help children acquire social and physical skills, and confidence to grow healthy. There is always a feeling of positive reinforcement and making learning fun and exciting in an noncompetitive environment.

Parent Participation Classes:

  • Tiny Tykes: 4-11 months
  • Waddlers: 11-20 months
  • Gymsters: 20 months - 2 1/2 years
  • Terrific Tots: 2 1/2 - 3 1/4 years

Independent Classes:
  • Mighty Mites: 3 1/4 - 4 1/2 years
  • Whiz Kids: 4 1/2 - 6 years
  • Champions: 6 - 8 years
  • Cardio Kids: 7 - 13 years

What does a typical class entail?
  • Circle time: introductions and answering 1 fun question, e.g. "Which fun character do you have on your toothbrush?"
  • Warm-up in the circle: stretch, wiggle, dance, etc.
    during circle time we socialize and have fun!
  • Relay: exercise in the form of a game, e.g. run and throw the ball inside the hula hoop
  • Rules: Reminder of My Gym rules to play safe
  • Free play time: 5-10 minutes (less frequent for older kids)
  • Gymnastics: learn 2 new skills, e.g. forward rolls & backward rolls
  • Free play time: 5-10 minutes (more frequent for younger kids)
  • Game: kids get a toy and imagine different ways to use it while mimicking each use
  • Puppet show
  • Closing: Say Goodbye and Sing the My Gym cheer

Special Programs:
  • PA Day Camp - 2 hours full of games, relays, sports, puppets, gymnastics, arts and crafts, story time, and much more! This is ideal for 3-8 year olds. $30/member & $20/sibling. Next PA Day Camp is Friday, June 5, 2015.
  • March Break Camp - Friday, March 13 - Friday, March 20 1-3 pm - Register your child to join 2 hours full of games, relays, sports, puppets, gymnastics, arts and crafts, story time and much more! My Gym Camp is designed to enhance physical and emotional growth, all while keeping your child's enjoyment the top priority!
  • Birthday Parties - My Gym also offers great, fun, entertaining and educational birthday parties on Thursdays and Fridays 6-7:45 pm or Saturdays and Sundays 1-2:45 pm or 3:30-5:15 pm. The birthday party package includes the following and more: planned activities with 2 experienced teachers for 1 hour and 45 minutes for 15 children and 25 adults (max 20 kids with an additional fee), invites, food accessories, set-up & clean-up, and more. Contact My Gym website for more details.
And now for class schedules... There are so many to choose from, something that was impossible to coordinate at other after school activities. Check out for a detailed class schedule near you.

Play Time - an Extra Bonus!
As a member you get to enjoy Practice & Play time with your Loved One once a week for free (and as a member, you often get coupons for additional free play times). Any additional times cost $7/child. My boys attend 1 class a week, and I take them for play time once week. They go bananas! I really like the fact that play time is exclusive to members, so it is not a crazy germ spreading place like an indoor playground. Practice & Play times are during the week only, when there is no class or birthday party in progress. Check out Practice & Play times for your specific location at under the Schedules tab.

In Ontario, there are 2 locations, one in Markham and one in Richmond Hill.

I see my oldest son develop develop independence and confidence at My Gym. With my youngest son, I see him developing more social skills, language and self-discipline. For both of my kids, I definitely see them feeling good about themselves and each other, while improving their 'weaker' skills. I couldn't have found a better extra-curricular activity for my children than MY GYM! So hurry, and schedule a trial class today!

At My Gym, we are all terrific! TA DA!
Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

Stay tuned for our our next Contest to win a free pass to My Gym for a whole month!

Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V. All opinions are my own. This is not a paid advertisement.

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Delicious & Healthy Smoothies to Start Your (and your little one's) Day!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Check out my healthy, easy and quick breakfast or snack smoothies to get started to a healthier, happier, and slimmer YOU today!


My entire family loves this smoothie, including our kids - all three of them (yes, even my 7-month old daughter loves it), and it's super healthy for you!!! Could you imagine your kids eating baby spinach and kale leaves?!

  • 1 cup fresh mango cut into small chunks (optional: 1/2 cup pineapple in chunks and 1/2 cup mango)
  • 1/2 ripe banana, peeled
  • 1/4 cup baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup baby kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup ice
  • Place all of the ingredients into a 24-ounce (or bigger) blender in the order listed above, starting with the mango.
  • Blend and enjoy:)!


  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1 cup milk (I use 2%)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • Place all of the ingredients into a 24-ounce (or bigger) blender in the order listed above, starting with the banana.
  • Blend and enjoy:)!


  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 apple, peeled, cored and halved
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, cleaned and cut up

  • Place all of the ingredients into a 24-ounce (or bigger) blender in the order listed above, starting with the banana.
  • Blend and enjoy:)!

Stay tuned for more healthy smoothies to come your way:)!

Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V.

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Canada Measles Outbreak - Questions & Answers

Thursday, 19 February 2015

With the measles outbreaks in Canada and the US, I think it is important that we look at the contentious issue of vaccinations and what you need to know about the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine and disease itself. And let's not forget about the growing anti-vaccination movement, misconceptions and measles contagiousness.

I have already voiced my opinion and have given your some important facts based on research and scientific evidence on vaccines. You can read more at Many theories suggest a direct link between autism and vaccinating children, which is why (not the only reason) many parents refuse to vaccinate their kids. Others believe vaccines are toxic and contain heavy metals. In any case, the debate on the contentious issue of vaccinations continues to grow.

Now, let's talk more about the current measles outbreak in Canada...

Q: How many cases have been confirmed and where exactly?
As of February 18 2015, the total number of confirmed cases in Ontario reaches 17, and this number has only been climbing. The cases include:
  • 9 cases in Toronto
  • 1 case in York Region
  • 1 case in Halton Region 
  • 6 cases in the Niagara regions, all under the age of 30 
The above cases include 2 children under the age of 2, a 14-year old girl in Niagara infected after laboratory testing, previously not vaccinated against measles and an adult in her 20s in Niagara not vaccinated against the virus. There are clear links between the Niagara patients infected. However, no connection has been established among the 11 GTA cases.

Q: How does the measles vaccine work and when do you get it?
The measles vaccine requires two shots - one at 12 months of age and another 4-6 years of age. The first vaccine is called the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.  According to CDC, you are considered to be fully protected against the measles virus if: 

1. You received the two shots of the MMR vaccine (fairly close together) - If you space out your vaccines, a booster could help. In Canada, the first shot should be administered at 12-15 months of age, and again at 18-months or at 4-6 years of age depending on your province or territory. And, you must get the MMR (3-in-1) vaccine; you cannot get a vaccine for measles on its own. Researchers say we still have much to learn about booster shots. Apparently, about 3 in 100 people, who get two does of the measles vaccine, will still get measles (a milder case and less likely to spread it to other people) if exposed to the virus. No one is sure why.

2. You had measles at some point in your life. 

3. If you were born before 1957 - Public health officials say that if you were born before 1957, you were likely exposed to measles.

Read more: What's in a measles vaccine? 4 things you need to know

If you're not sure that you've been vaccinated against measles, you can ask your doctor for a blood test to see if you're immune to the virus. You can also get another dose of the MMR vaccine, apparently there is no harm according to CDC. But, in any case, you must consult your doctor first.
Read more: Why is measles so contagious? 5 things you need to know

Q: What's in the MMR vaccine?

Q: Who should not be vaccinated against measles?

1. People with a compromised immune system, or infection, such as fever, should consult their doctor before getting the shot.

2. Pregnant women shouldn't get the MMR vaccine due to the risk to their fetus (it is recommended you wait about 28 days after vaccination before conceiving, according to the CDC).

3. If you have egg allergies, consult your doctor first.

Q: What are the side effects of the MMR vaccine?
Doctors suggest that you may encounter an aching arm from the shot, inflammation, or stomach aches, as well as susceptibility to other infections, such as colds, and so on.

Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada, CDC, Global News
Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V. For any questions related to vaccinations and the measles outbreak, you should consult your physician. 
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