Getting their ya-yas out | SierraSun.com

Getting their ya-yas out

Renée Shadforth
Josh Miller/Sierra Sun Taylor Betonte, 2, plays in a Sensa Trak last week at My Playground, a new child activity center in Truckee. Taylor's mom, Cathy, looks on.
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For a few years Laura Bronstone waited for a low-impact exercise class in Truckee that she could do with her children.”I was hoping someone else would do it,” said Bronstone, who has a 2 and 3 year old. “I was hoping somebody would open a physical activity center for children.”So she waited and waited and then Bronstone, who worked in advertising at the time, decided to open something herself. There was a need for children ages 1 to 3 to have a physical outlet, especially during Truckee’s winters, she said.”I’ve always been physically active, ever since I was a child,” she said. “I know how kids are when they don’t get physical activity. I know my kids don’t sleep as well and get irritable.”So after conducting some research and purchasing a whole lot of soft, colorful equipment, Bronstone, along with her husband, Howard, opened My Playground in the Sierra Nevada Dance studio. In each class, Bronstone – who is a professional dancer and certified personal trainer – guides the children and their parents through activities that build motor skills and self-confidence.”I wanted a place where they could run, where the first rule at the top of page one isn’t ‘Don’t run,'” she said.

Last month, Bronstone held her first class, and the formula seems to be working so far. Now all 48 spots in the program are full, and she said she will have to expand to offer classes to the families on her waiting list.The curriculum for My Playground comes from various parent-participation activities Bronstone has attended with her children. Her experience resulted in a program that includes singing, movement and games. Bronstone wants to keep tweaking the content of My Playground classes, and there’s a request box for parents to ask for activities.”It’s tough because with a young age group repetition is important, but I don’t want the parents to be bored,” she said.Parents or caregivers must be present in the class, which Truckee mom Pamela Villalba said is a bonus for her 14-month-old daughter.”She’s a second child, so it was time to do something with just her,” Villalba said.Truckee mom Beth Hirsh had taken her daughter, 16-month-old Hannah, to several parent-and-child participation classes. But after Hannah turned 1 year old, Hirsh had difficulty finding organized activities to do together.

“[Hannah] was overwhelmed at first, with the colors and the brightness … but within five minutes, she jumped into the activities,” Hirsh said. “We’ve been to Gymboree in Reno, and this is way better than Gymboree.”My Playground is a bit like Gymboree, but the equipment, songs and curriculum are slightly different, Bronstone said. Prior to opening My Playground, Bronstone considered starting a Gymboree franchise, but Truckee’s youth population wasn’t large enough for Gymboree to buy in.In the future, Bronstone said she will consider franchising My Playground to other resort towns and small communities if her success continues.”But that will be way down the line,” she said. “That would be when my kids are in college and I’m bored.”Check it out

My PlaygroundLocation: Sierra Nevada Dance studio, Pioneer Commerce CenterCall: 587-7404Go to: http://www.playgroundcentral.comE-mail: laura@playgroundcentral.comFees are $10 per 45-minute class, paid monthly