I heard about a new gymnastics facility opening in Aiea (Halawa, near the Aloha Stadium) and was quite excited... I'm always seeking out new opportunities for extra-curricular activities that might be of interest to local homeschoolers! Gymnastics is usually near the top of many families' extra-curricular list, so it's great to have another option. My kids have taken trial lessons at most of the gymnastics schools on the leeward side of Oahu - and participated longer term at one of them - but they are not currently taking lessons so we jumped at the chance to do a trial at Manakoa Gym... especially because the coaches generously accommodated our availability and allowed us to bring several friends along to try it out as well!
Manakoa Gym & Keiki Learning Center is located in an industrial area of Aiea. We spotted the gym by it's red & white shade canopy alongside the building. Parking was mostly limited to the street, but since our trial was on Saturday morning, we were able to easily find a spot close by. [[UPDATE: They now have an arrangement that allows for more parking availability - yay!]] Upon arrival, we noticed that the facility was rather small, but the closer I looked, the more impressed I was by the careful use of space and consideration of detail put into the design. At first, it didn't look like it had a lot to offer in terms of equipment, but they fit a lot into the room they have, including a small foam pit, a trampoline, rings, a rope, bars, balance beams, and lots of pads of all kinds. I think it lends itself well to their mission of recreational gymnastics and a learning center. While they cater to most ages (from walking toddlers all the way to adults), this space will likely appeal particularly well to the younger set (I know our kids liked it). They have a type of "loft" as a second level, with some seating and tables for parents to use while waiting, a small store with gear and snacks, and a desk with office space. It appears that there are a few toys to occupy younger siblings as well. Everything was clean, new, and ready for students!
The staff seemed friendly, kind, and welcoming. Our group had kids from age 2 through age 11, so the coaches wisely divided them into three groups to accommodate their different ages and developmental stages. Each group rotated throughout the gym to give them all a chance at the various activities and available equipment. It appeared that all the kids enjoyed themselves and left happy.
One of the unique things about Manakoa Gym is the "Keiki Learning Center" aspect. The staff incorporates math, language, and science learning into the gymnastics lessons! Prior to this trial, I'd never heard of anything similar, but they seemed to do it really well. They kept the kids moving and only stopped for brief moments to discuss something. Sometimes they used flash cards with letters or pictures for the younger kids, that they would point to, pick up, grab, or put down in between rolls, tumbles, or balancing tasks. They didn't lecture and didn't seem to linger too long - particularly important for the young kids. Beyond the gymnastics classes, I also noticed that they offer academic only tutoring too!
I spoke briefly with the Director of the facility and was impressed with what they're establishing, all they've put into the facility, their apparent heart for what they do, and what they are offering the community. While I've only had short and limited interactions with them, they seem like genuine people that really want to help and teach kids.
I asked about daytime classes for homeschoolers, and they have a lot of options to choose from! You can see their class schedule and rates on their website. As of the date of this post, they offer classes as early as 10am and as late as 6pm (depending on the day), even for older children! And they even offer classes on Sunday! (No classes on Tuesday.) I also asked if they would accept MBTA funds (an allotment that some local charter school students receive) and they seemed very open to the possibility. Anyone interested in this should definitely ask and get the details from the staff directly.
So would I recommend it? Yes... or at least that anyone interested takes a trial lesson. Would I recommend this to absolutely everyone? No.. but only because nothing suits all families. Manakoa gym seemed lower key and I'm not sure what they offer, if anything, to those looking for a competitive gymnastics program. At the time of my original review, parking could be limited during the weekdays (apparently before about 3pm) and that could bother some people, while others will consider it par for the course here in Hawaii. [[UPDATE: They now have an arrangement that allows for more parking availability - yay!]] The location could be ideal for some and not for others. You get the point. :-) It is definitely worth checking out - especially if your child has an interest in gymnastics (and you want them to learn something extra along the way)! What homechooling parent doesn't want that?
If you are interested in seeing their facility and finding out more, you might want to join them for their Open House this Saturday, February 6th, from 1-4pm. According to their website, they will have activities, games, exhibitions, open gym, food, music, prizes, and more!
This post is for informational purposes only; a chance for me to share our experience. It was NOT sponsored, nor is it an advertisement. I am NOT affiliated or associated with Manakoa Gym. I have NOT received any compensation, perk, or benefit in return for this informational/review blog post. The post was made because I wanted to share about a new extra-curricular option. All of the opinions herein are that of my own or my family. Because I am not associated with the gym, the details I share here could very well change at any time without notice or my knowledge of such. Any questions should be directed to Manakoa Gym staff.
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.