Words by Erica Newton Co- Founder
Five years is a long time, especially when a child is born. It can feel like every day stretches out into the l o n g e s t day ever. Suddenly though, that sweet angelic baby has morphed into a child, one which can run surprisingly fast in the opposite direction from you toward the chocolate aisle at the shops. Thankfully, MyFirstGym is a business, not tearaway offspring on a ‘quick’ trip into the store to get milk, but the journey with this ‘baby’ of ours over the past five years has been no less emotional.
Dan and I first discovered of ‘gym for kids’ idea in New Zealand, but it wasn’t until we had newly arrived in Brisbane (via Sydney) with our three young kids in tow, that our flagship MyFirstGym was conceived. It began as a heartbeat, a small project where we wanted to set up a convenient, relevant and fun concept for our kids, their friends and parents and our extended local community. A place where we could build a network of support around health and fitness for our kids. The bones, structure and personality of this business developed with time, and as memberships at our local club grew, so did the breadth and depth of classes we could offer. Not only was MFG becoming popular with kids, but we began to see other operators and families, ones like ours, who wanted to do something similar in their communities. The birth of the franchise strategy has seen MFG grow from one to 13 clubs across the country in those short five years.
MyFirstGym is an incredible success story, but like raising our babies, there have been a lot of sleepless nights, joyous days and wiping-Weetbix-off-the-wall mornings. Dan and I can clearly remember having to spoon feed every action, decision and movement of the business every day. It felt like everything we did was a test- would mashed pumpkin work today, or should we stick with sweet potato? As we tried to work through what was best for our members, our staff and our growing community, sometimes we’d be washing pureed food out of our hair no matter what we did! But the biggest lesson we’ve learnt as both biological parents and mum and dad to MFG, is there’s no “one-size fits all” when it comes to children and their needs. We pride ourselves on catering to all children with all different abilities and exercise backgrounds. And just like when you finally get the magic pureed combo right, the greatest reward is seeing their smiling faces after a big day at MyFirstGym!
We’ve made so much progress though, and I can happily say MFG is growing up and is able to function well, albeit with a lot of growing still to do. As co-founders, we can breathe a little more, we’re getting our days back and are very satisfied with adding more ‘children’ to the mix as the network grows. It’s a network that involves the head office team, franchisees, club managers, coaches, and our members’ community. We’re a village raising MFG together, and we’re making ripples throughout each of our communities. Throughout June, our clubs ran a variety of charity drives to support those in need in their particular communities, and the results have been outstanding you can read about them here.
To be honest, when we started up MFG as a small community project, beyond staying active with the kids, Dan and I thought that at the very least, we’d be able to meet some likeminded local families. To think MFG has grown to a family of over 13 franchisees and thousands of members whilst supporting lots of local communities AND instilling a love of movement in kids… it really does make us a little teary with pride. We could never have turned five without our members, franchisees, supporters and admin team: thank you so much for the support and love. Together, I think we’re making the world a better place for our kids!
If you’re still on the fence about whether a one-stop-shop to help instil a love of fitness in your child that is affordable, easy and gives YOU a little time back too, take a look at our current Active August Giveaway– with over $19k worth of amazing prizes for the whole family!
Want to be the next MyFirstGym Franchisee? Find out more in our franchisee video!