Ever since my now one-year-old, Petra and I began Music Together and Zumbini classes at Move N Soar, I’ve been meaning to write about our shared love for the programming but, as you may know if you’re reading this, caring for an active babe doesn’t exactly do wonders for spare time! So why am I suddenly motivated? Well, they've just opened their Family Studio and the new space is so bright, comfortable, and spacious. It's exciting! If you know me, I’ve probably already talked your ear off about it but either way, I’m excited to show you a bit of what you can expect in a class through images captured by Desiree Martin Photography, whose husband, Amery and their son, Kai you will also spot in the photos. I'll also share some insight with you about the studio, care of co-founder (and Petra’s Music Together instructor), Kelly Duncalfe-Baker.
Before I knew about their baby, toddler, and child classes, I understood Move N Soar to be an aerial arts studio and had seen girls flying high in the silks, Pink-style, at various events. It was only by googling “baby classes Saskatoon” that I discovered their mini programming and found out that the studio is a five-minute drive from my Stonebridge home that ends in free underground parking (a total bonus with a baby). Petra was about five months at the time we began and the Family Studio was still being built beside their main studio so we met in a temporary space but as a musician myself, the quality of the instructor’s voices and their positive attitudes totally hooked me in the first week.
Move N Soar is all about finding the joy in a healthy lifestyle. In 2009, Kelly had started teaching fitness classes around Saskatoon as something fun to do while on a vacation from dancing on cruise ships (where she met her partner in the business, Yuki). “I became passionate about helping people become healthier,” Kelly told me, “and I decided to see what could come of this new found passion.” Opening "Fitness with Kelly” in 2009, she was looking for a partner who shared her goal of bringing new ways to work out to Saskatoon and in came Yuki, who had fallen in love with Aerial Silks. “We put our passions and different experiences together and created Move N Soar. ‘Move’ coming from the classes I was teaching (like Zumba and other Conditioning classes) and ‘Soar’ from the aerial aspect.”
I wondered what made Move N Soar take the leap to offering kids’ classes and Kelly expressed that her hope was always to create a centre at which an entire family could be active with high-quality programming and the best-of-the-best instructors. She’d worked at a great centre for kids of all ages in Toronto but she saw an opportunity to extend the activities beyond childhood. “As parents,” she explained, “we run our children everywhere and forget about ourselves, so to have one place that the entire family can go to with highly certified instructors was a dream. We will continue to add more children's programming as our instructor team grows...so stay tuned for what we launch next!” GAH. You know I want whatever it is.
The two music classes for babies and toddlers at Move N Soar are Music Together and Zumbini, both of which I attend at least once a week. Zumbini is a fun, full-body music class where kids wiggle and dance and you do, too. The songs are catchy and upbeat and there are opportunities to use some egg shakers, scarves, and drums. You’re probably familiar with Zumba (also offered at Move N Soar) and though the baby version is waaaay less intense, the concept is still to have fun while being active.
The focus of Music Together differs in that you can feel a bit more of an educational component. There are plenty of tactile activities like the various-instrument jam, scarf play, and a spandex parachute, but the scales in which the songs are written are more diverse which makes your baby's brain work other ways. The classes evolve month to month, focusing on specific genres or instrumentation like fiddle, drums, or family favourites and each of the sessions gives you access to special online resources and accompanying take-home materials including a CD. I don’t normally listen to children’s music in the car but if Petra is upset, I press play and she immediately calms—it must remind her of happy times in class and luckily, it’s a nice listen for me, too. The Music Together program has been around for 28 years but Move N Soar is the first to offer it in Saskatchewan and I’m grateful they do. There’s also Move with ME, a class in which where your little one hangs out in your carrier as you work out. This, I may brave at some point but haven’t yet.
For slightly older kiddos (3-7), Move N Soar offers Move Together: a work-out with your child that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle. It helps to develop large and fine motor movements for the child and builds strength, body awareness, balance, not to mention the bonding experience between the caregiver and child. AntiGravity youth classes (Gliders for 5 & 6-year-olds and various Kids’ levels span ages 7-15) are aerial arts classes that teach within the principles of yoga but let the kids swing, stretch, spin, balance, and strengthen while learning tricks. Obviously, this is great for confidence but it also promotes independence and inner balance. Not that I want to rush her growing up… but I’m looking forward to seeing Petra in those classes. I pass the aerial studio on the way to the Family Studio and the kids look SO into it.
Now for my confession time: a month into Music Together, I emailed Kelly to ask about being an instructor because I was so into it and although she was very supportive, the training required is more time away from home than I can do right now! When I saw the education involved for just that one class, I thought: no wonder it feels so pro. This made me curious what kind of education rap sheet Kelly herself has and OMG I can’t even list it all here. Beyond her extensive dance training (including years with the Professional Division of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet), the list is literally half a page long including certifications from Booty Barre®, Insanity Live, PiYo, pretty much every Zumba® iteration I’ve ever heard of (and some I haven’t), Music Together™, Royal Conservatory of Music for voice, Canfitpro, AntiGravity®, many yoga alliances, TRX® Kickboxing, and she was an illusionist and trapeze artist. And I’m really condensing. Our girl’s even appeared on Zumba® Fitness videos!
Back to the kids’ classes, I asked Kelly what she takes away from them that she might not get from an adult class. Her answer? She gets to be a part of a little person’s development. “I love being part of younger children's first words, first steps, first noises. Watching children develop from babies to toddlers to young children.” She recalled to me a moment that illustrated this point perfectly: “We were doing arm patterns across the body with our hands while singing. This child sat and watched me for a while, then fell forward and started to crawl for the first time. The dad was over the moon, the child acted like she had been crawling forever. These classes are so much more than ‘a music class’—they promote language, diction, and basic movement patterns.”
Kelly mentioned something else that I’ve enjoyed watching: the ‘big kids’ helping the babies. That mixed age socialization is precious! “Every time I ask children to clean up,” Kelly laughs, “the magic of Music Together mixed ages has the three to five-year-olds walk over to babies and help them clean up. It builds community! It also builds confidence and responsibility in older children. Parents ask me every day, ‘how do you get the kids to clean up?’ And I always say, 'it is magic!'”
As a mom, there’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing my baby learn how to learn, and for me, a lot of that shines through with music. Kelly feels the same way and told me how Move N Soar's music programming has been infused in her family. "Tonight," she told me, "as I was learning new songs for our upcoming session, my seven-month-old was in one arm doing it with me and my three-year-old (who makes up new phrases and movements all of the time) was dancing, following me around the kitchen participating, as my husband cleaned up dinner." And as fun as it is to see the kids engaged at when their personalities are really coming out, it's benefitial to start early, says Kelly. "Our youngest participated in Music Together trainings with me and at six weeks of age the creator of Music Together, Lili Levinowitz would have me sing scales to change the pitch of his cry. He is very musically competent... though of course, I taught five days a week while he developed in my belly!"
Check out Move N Soar's site for more information on how to register for Music Together, Zumbini, Move with ME, or programming for older kids. I do a lot of stuff with my babe but these classes are by far my fave.