With concern over the childhood obesity rate soaring, it's no surprise that parents are eager to teach their babies and young children to be active. They'll find no shortage of options if they decide to enroll in a class.
"Kids encounter enough diversity in a typical home environment to help build motor skills," she says. "But these classes ingrain the idea of physical activity into kids from a young age, which is important." When conducted in a safe setting, they pose no harm and can be a fun thing for parents to do with little ones, she adds.
Chains and independent centers around the country run programs where parents bring babies and toddlers to a play setting to practice climbing, walking, crawling and balancing under the supervision of an instructor. Many of these companies are expanding nationally and even globally.
But how soon is too soon to steer young children to physical fitness? And is it safe?
Laura Berk, a child-development professor at Illinois State University and author of the book "Child Development," says while there is no evidence that gym classes help babies acquire physical skills more quickly, they can be a positive influence.
"These classes ingrain the idea of physical activity into kids from a young age, which is important"