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Scarsdale's Great Play Transforms Child Fitness Into Fun

Who says going to the gym has to be a chore for kids, like completing their homework or making their beds? Great Play Scarsdale ensures that kids of all ages can get fit -- while enjoying themselves along the way.

Children outgrow barnyard nursery wallpaper and footie pajamas long before most parents are prepared for puberty. But thanks to Great Play Scarsdale, they won't outgrow the gym franchise's kid-friendly, themed fitness activities before they develop legs long enough to graze the pedals of an adult's stationary bike. 

Great Play Scarsdale, a recreational center designed for children ages 6 months to 12 years, seems ambitious in scope. After all, toddlers possess the bare minimum of motor skills needed to toss a basketball, whereas the 12-year-olds who dribble and shoot with abandon are too mature for childish safari motifs and building blocks. The solution? A range of unique programs tailored for each stage of development, along with a patent-pending Interactive Area that allows for a variety of movement and activity.

Activities including Intro to Motor Skills, Sports Skills and Zumbatomic (an off-shoot of "Zumba," the popular Latin dance exercise) are taught by three experienced instructors who lead all age groups in activities that constantly change in nature and range to prevent staleness and routine. The flexibility and variety that the classes provide are also educational -- tailored to enhance and fine-tune coordination and development.  

"Our active toddler is able to run, jump and play with other children - and learn without even knowing it!" boasted one parent in an online review of Great Play Scarsdale. 

As children race around the room, a special projector flashes images that transform the blank walls from everything including jungle scenes and space scenes to the gym's mascot, an anthropomorphic orange creature named Buddy. Children can throw balls or shoot laser guns at the images -- or simply chase Buddy around the gym as he mysteriously appears on one wall, only to duck into a shadowy corner.       

Tucked underneath the Midway Shopping Center on Central Avenue, Great Play Scarsdale is run by owner Zineb Truta, a former Manhattan CPA who was so impressed with the franchise's innovative approach toward childhood fitness that she signed on to helm the location in 2011. 

Truta, who lives in the Upper East Side with her husband and two sons, plans to relocate her family to Scarsdale this year and fully immerse herself in the community -- a step she's already begun through involving Great Play in local fundraisers, charity drives and sports functions.

Other efforts Truta has taken to familiarize herself with her soon-to-be neighbors have included Parents' Night Out, a drop-off program that allows parents to take the evening off while their kids play and snuggle into squishy blankets while enjoying movies and cheese pizza. On-site birthday parties are another popular option for children in Scarsdale and neighboring towns, who can enjoy cake, party favors and play activities in the Interactive Area as a picture of the birthday boy or girl is projected across the wall. 

"I love Scarsdale and Great Play," Truta said. "I have the best of both worlds -- geting to spend all day here at the gym, and getting involved in the community as well. I can't wait to move here. I just can't wait." 

Great Play, which opened its Scarsdale location in 2008, is located on 969 Central Park Avenue and is open daily from 9-6 p.m. For more information, call 914-713-3470. Information on other Great Play franchises can be found on the company's website

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