Flip, Flip Hooray! Teaching Life Lessons through Gymnastics
WHEN CHELSEA SEGURA walked into The Little Gym in Baton Rouge during her sophomore year of college, she was looking for a part-time job. Never in her wildest dreams did she think she would find her career. Yet, the concept and teaching philosophy was such a natural fit for this kinesiology major that she actually began the paperwork to open a Lafayette franchise two months before graduation. Immediately after she received her degree, Chelsea jumped right into the role of business owner; and she hasn’t looked back since. In fact, she opened her second gym earlier this year in Covington.
Just as it was with the gym in Lafayette, timing and circumstances aligned perfectly to make the decision to expand to Covington an easy one. “My parents, who have partnered with me in the gyms, are actively involved in the Lafayette location. We have a great staff in place there, so I knew it would be in good hands,” she explained. “We decided to open our second location on the Northshore because we knew the concept would compliment the family-friendly nature of the area.”
Chelsea actually scouted locations for the gym at the same time she searched for a place to live. “I knew I needed to be in close proximity to the Covington gym in order to give it the time and attention it deserved. I wasn’t going to open if I couldn’t be here and be fully committed. She continued, “I am at a place in my life where I can give my blood, sweat and tears to this expansion.”
While the location has been open less than a year, Chelsea said parents are coming from as far away as Slidell to take part in The Little Gym’s programming. The Little Gym concept was founded in 1976 by Robin Wes. An innovative educator, musician and kinesiologist, he wanted to create a place for children to explore their physical development, while growing socially, emotionally and intellectually.
The Little Gym offers themed, age-appropriate learning units for children ages four months to 12 years. The curriculum leads to a natural progression of skills, with each lesson building from the previous week.
As Chelsea explained, The Little Gym teaches gymnastics skills in a non-competitive environment. While classes are taught under USA Gymnastics guidelines, the focus is on the spirit to achieve rather than the pressure to win. “We teach skills and development techniques to build Olympic-sized confidence,” she said.
Over the course of the last 35 years, The Little Gym has expanded its programming to include karate, sports skills and dance—tap, ballet, creative movement and hip hop. Chelsea said she expects to begin offering these classes at the Northshore location early next year.
The Little Gym also offers several activities that not only help children, but parents as well. Parent-Child Classes (up to age three) are available to help develop critical social and developmental skills while fostering the bonds between parent and child.
Turnkey birthday party packages allow parents to relax and focus their attention on their child and their guests. With a 10:1 ratio of children to staff during a party and an exclusive partnership with Lego and Duplo, there is no shortage of fun. “Through the years, we’ve had families hold their child’s first birthday party with us, and parties every year thereafter,” Chelsea said. “It is rewarding to have families place so much trust in us.”
One Friday each month, The Little Gym also offers Parent Survival Night from 6–9 p.m. “Bathroom independent children, three to 12 years-old, are engaged in activities and games in a safe, controlled environment while parents can receive a much-needed time out,” she said.
Together with her beloved Shih Tzu, Bourré, Chelsea said she is settling in to life on the Northshore. In addition to childhood and college friends who live in the area, she has forged friendships with many of the moms whose children attend The Little Gym. With dining out, attending sports events and watching movies as some of her favorite pastimes, the area is as perfect a fit for her on a personal level as The Little Gym has been for her on a professional one.
“The Little Gym corporation has been amazing. It is not only a company that provides support, training and structure based on 35 years of experience. It’s also a company that believes in giving back,” Chelsea said. Through its Big Heart philanthropy, the Little Gym supports the SeriousFun Children’s Network, a global community of camps and programs that serve children coping with serious illnesses and their families.
“Being able to accommodate special needs children goes a long way to empowering them. We want all of our children to feel special, not different,” she explained.
One of the most rewarding parts of Chelsea’s career is one that she could not have foreseen when she started as a part-time gymnastics teacher at the Little Gym in Baton Rouge. With two of her own franchises, Chelsea now has the ability to offer employment and career opportunities to young people who are just like she was seven years ago. Chelsea is living proof that through hard work and genuine compassion, people can achieve their dreams at any age.
The Little Gym is located at 51 Park Place Drive off of Highway 190 in Covington. For more information call 985-871-8989 or visit TLGtheNorthshoreLA.com.