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Exercise Is Big Fun At The Little Gym

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RALEIGH — Think a 3-year-old is too young to start a regular physical fitness program? Some say the best time to begin a routine is when children are very young.

A North Raleigh fitness center believes in building up kids' fitness skills for life.

"The Little Gym program really works on the total child," says teacher Dawn Rushing. "It works on their physical skills, their gymnastics skills -- getting them exposed to the bars and the balanced beams and tumbling courses."

Teachers have been working with children, ages 4 months to 12 years, for more than 20 years.

"We want all of the children to have a great time, and we want them to remember that fitness is fun," says Martha Moore, co-owner of the gym. "If we can instill that in them, that will be a skill that will last a lifetime and something they'll enjoy forever."

Children are assisted by a staff of teachers with backgrounds in dance, gymnastics and early childhood education.

"And we keep trying to challenge them, but at a level where they can feel successful. We try not to overwhelm them with skills they really can't do at this point," says Moore.

Every week there is something new and something familiar. Little Gym teachers are convinced that active bodies lead to active minds.

"Our philosophy is you don't have to be the best, just try your best," says Moore. "We want them to feel comfortable taking risks and even in making mistakes, because we know that's the way that we learn."

The Little Gym program runs year-round and costs about $250 per semester.

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