The recent return of My Gym Santa Barbara after a two-year closure was met with cheers and joy among many locals, my family included.
The longtime children’s fitness center shut down in 2020 as the COVID-19 crisis took hold. The franchise, previously owned by Jen Ceasar, had been an essential — and physically engaging — community resource for 17 years.
Now with new ownership and a new location, at 2801 De la Vina St. on the corner of Vernon Road just up from Handlebar Coffee Roasters, My Gym is ready for its next chapter.
Leading the way are two familiar faces: Charles Fossett-Lee, the dynamic 15-year director, and Kelly Almeroth, his business partner, a parent and community activist.
Fossett-Lee is truly the heart and soul of My Gym. He has a passion for teaching and coaching that he didn’t know he had until a decade ago when he attended the My Gym West Coast seminar.
“At that moment, I knew that My Gym was my favorite,” he recalled.
Looking forward, he hopes that parents will see their children’s growth and development and that they’ll form a community within its classes and friendships that will last forever.
Almeroth’s own children, Casey, 11, and Abby, 8, started taking classes at My Gym with Fossett-Lee in 2012. Now, they’re in business together.
“I was very excited to partner with Charles in bringing My Gym back to Santa Barbara,” she told Noozhawk. “He was a gift to the kids of Santa Barbara, and I was grateful that my children got to experience My Gym under his care.”
The morning I stopped by to check out the activities, I was greeted by music, laughter and giggles as soon as I opened the door. Inside were “The Waddlers,” which included my 14-month-old grandson, a second-generation My Gym enthusiast.
The 2,300-square-foot space is filled with climbing areas, tumbling mats, Bosu balls, hoops, swings, parallel bars, a trampoline — and little ones running around exploring all the options.
Circle time was terrific. The Waddlers, who usually can’t sit still, have quickly learned the routines, even if they don’t know the words to all the songs. They sat on their moms’ laps and participated enthusiastically.
For this age group, the activities were varied and often changed, a perfect plan for the little people just learning to socialize and play with others.
“While every class is age-specific, we help children work on several abilities and skills,” Fossett-Lee explained. “Our curriculum is created for each age group to aid muscle development, fine and gross motor skills, and cognitive development in children.”
Although My Gym’s overall structure is consistent among age groups, each class is different.
“That’s the special and amazing thing about My Gym’s program, that parents can truly see the progress in each class,” Fossett-Lee said.
My visit was a sentimental déjà vu as I watched the kids, including my grandson, enjoying the music and freedom in the safe and fun space, just as my children did many years ago.
— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.