I was invited to a new children’s play area in Localizer mall on Altahliya street last Wednesday. The owner, Osama Al-Othman, is a friend of a friend of mine and he was looking for mothers with children between the ages of 6 and 14 to come and try the place out and give feedback. All I knew about the place is that its goal is to encourage kids to move and be healthy which is great in my book.
Now if you are familiar with Altahliya street then you know how it is always jam-packed with traffic no matter what day but believe me when I say this is worth the hell you have to go through to get there.
The place is called In Motion Club and we in Saudi are in desperate need for a place like this! The concept is simple, make kids move while having fun. Encourage children to have a healthy active life without it being a chore. This place is staffed with professional trainers who will make sure your children are active in a safe and fun environment. It’s not only a play place, it also offers one on one training for kids who need to lose some weight or get more exercise.
We walked in and the first thing I saw was TV screens on the wall hooked up to a gaming machine with S’s favorite game and I was a bit skeptical. But my attention was quickly caught by all the other equipment in the space. I am a 31-year-old adult but all I wanted to do was go and climb the climbing wall! It looked like so much fun. Monkey J was on one that rotated slowly so she was not climbing up but rather climbing sideways if that makes sense. I remembered one of my cousins telling me about how amazing climbing is because it’s like solving a big puzzle. I could see all the little cogs in her head going on over drive figuring out where her hands and feet need to go to keep up.
S ran for a machine that had three tall columns set up in a triangle with round lights on different parts of them. The player has the option of holding a ball in each hand or a stick with padding on both ends and the idea was to stand in the middle of the columns and hit each light as it lit up.
J then headed to a square interactive screen on the floor. She stood on it and the game started with one square shape appearing and moving in random directions. The idea was to avoid the square by jumping over it or moving out of its way. If you succeeded in doing that the square eventually splits into two, then three and on and on.
the great thing about this is the play was led by the trainers and therefore was more focused and less random. For example J was jumping like mad on one of the small trampolines then one of the trainers came over and started showing her moves to do while jumping that probably made her work twice as hard and gave her a goal to achieve.
S tried the interactive wall game that looked like a puzzle of some sort. Then he went crazy on a kicking game (similar to the lights one that he played earlier) then there was a running and jumping game (his favorite thing to do) that he spent a good while on. But in the end it was the video game that we saw when we were coming in that really got him.
I was watching him from the other end of the room. He was playing against another boy, each boy had a joystick in his hand (as happens on weekends when he is playing against his friends) but something was different because he seemed to be moving up and down. When I got closer I saw that he was standing on pedals that where also hooked up to the game and the harder he stepped down on them the harder his player played! GENIUS!
Add to the all that the multi purpose room that will have scheduled group classes such as work outs, martial arts and gymnastics. It also has a café with healthy food where the parents or nannies can wait and watch the kids through the windows. Adults are not allowed in the games area, only the children and the trainers.
If you live in Saudi then you know that for every child in a ‘malahi’ (play area for children, usually used to refer to the ones in malls) there is a nanny or two. Most of them do not actually interact with the child but just follow them around looking bored and harassed. Or ignore them completely and have coffee with the other nannies. Then there are the ones that do everything for the child, they are always brushing their hair, wiping their noses, tucking in their shirts, holding their hands.
So, no nannies no parents just kids. Nannies can watch from the café that has windows over looking the play area and later on parents will be able to watch on a dedicated site a live feed of the action.
The soft opening is on Sunday and all kids can come and try it out. Unfortunately, after the official opening it will be a boys only club. They do have plans to either make girls days or open up another branch. Osama, J is going to have some word for you when she finds out she can’t come anymore!
In Motion is a membership club. They do 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months memberships. They also do day packages, school packages and birthday parties for a minimum of 20 kids. There’s a 20% discount during the soft opening for the 3,6 and 12 month memberships.