Carolyn Stokoe is the owner of Gymbaroo Concord and Marrickville – nurturing, creative environments for babies and children to explore and develop essential skills together with their parents or carers. Inspired by the Gymbaroo concept when her daughter was just eight weeks old, Carolyn established her own Gymbaroo centres in 2013, starting with the Concord one. She has a huge zest for life, and when she’s not teaching classes she’s training for marathons, walking her dog or socialising with family and friends.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My life is full, happy and always eventful. I’ve been married forever with a 16-year-old daughter in Year 11 and am living in a renovator’s dream with a dachshund and two crazy cats. Life is always busy with family, friends and the business. Any spare time is spent on running and training for marathons and ultra trail runs as well as ocean swims.
Why did you decide to establish a Gymbaroo location?
I started Gymbaroo at Concord 16 years ago. I had attended Gymbaroo classes with my daughter Scarlett from when she was eight weeks old and I just loved everything about the Gymbaroo experience. I appreciated how it helped me as a parent, how it helped me connect with other parents, and how it helped my daughter’s development. I remember sitting in a class and thinking how much I would like to be involved in such a business. I realised it was something that could be personally and professionally rewarding but also tailored to being a working mum. There was no Gymbaroo in the Concord area, so one thing led to another, and first I opened the Concord centre and then a few years later the Marrickville one. I have never looked back and it has been a great journey.
Can you tell us a bit about your Concord and Marrickville centres?
Our Concord and Marrickville centres offer a colourful, dynamic environment for our children and parents to enjoy. They feature a unique gym that has been especially designed for babies and children – lots exploration and play, and opportunities to develop and reach those milestones. Our staff are professional, caring and nurturing. Our aim is to provide a happy, fun, creative experience.
What can families expect from a Gymbaroo class?
Our parents can expect classes that are tailored to their child’s developmental stage and that help them reach their milestones. They offer an opportunity to be actively involved in their child’s class. There is exercise, music time, massage time, dance, bubbles, parachute games, small equipment exploration, a treasure bag and of course gym time. The programmes are research based and designed to provide the foundations for social, emotional, academic and physical development.
What do you enjoy most about teaching Gymbaroo classes?
I enjoy everything about teaching Gymbaroo! It is truly so rewarding. I get to sing, dance and be silly and creative, and just love seeing the children light up through their various Gymbaroo encounters.
As a mother and Gymbaroo teacher, do you have any advice for new parents?
My advice is just to relax and enjoy spending time with your child. Be actively involved and present and participate in their lives. Time really does fly by and everything does work out so soak it all up before these precious early days are gone!
Favourite places in the Inner West?
I have been an Inner Westie for more than 20 years and absolutely love the whole area. We particularly enjoy the Bay Run, the Cooks River run, Cabarita swimming pool, Friday night dinners in Summer Hill and Cafe Bones and the dog park.
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