The climbing wall at Kaleidoscope Family Gym. Credit: Devon Hammer
For a lot of families with young kids, indoor play gyms can be a refreshing changeup after long days at home. Especially during rainy days, or (hello) during a pandemic, a change of scenery and new toys to play with can do wonders for a family’s vibe.
For some families, however, visiting new places can also mean a lot of stress and hesitation. When you have a child with sensory issues or who has unique needs, you can sometimes encounter situations that are uncomfortable or unsuitable for your child.
Arlene Keeler, the owner of the new Kaleidoscope Family Gym, lived this reality with her young grandson who has Autism. Discovering the need for an inclusive play gym in the Puyallup area, she decided to open one herself.
Kaleidoscope Family Gym opened its doors in December 2020 and it's now welcoming families of all abilities to play, their way.
Our day of play
For my two kiddos, ages 4 and 6, I knew an indoor outing would be a welcome change of pace, a refuge from our usual wet and cold winter outings to local parks. I booked a Private Play session at Kaleidoscope and we headed to Puyallup — while the snow fell outside.
Imaginative play wonderland
Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted by Arlene, the owner. Our Private Play session meant we had the entire space to ourselves for our booked time slot.
Arlene gave us the rundown on rules and procedures and then we were set free to explore the expansive gym. I was awestruck by the number of toys and activities offered and how organized and clean everything looked.
My kids zoomed around from the dino den to the climbing wall to the ride-on toys to the pretend farmers market set-up. It was an imaginative play wonderland. I am certain we didn’t get to even half of the play elements available in the 90 minutes we were there.
My son especially loved all of the active play equipment offered, including the climbing wall, Jungle Jumperoo, the swing, giant bouncy balls, the hammocks and all the ride-on equipment, particularly the Radio Flyer Cyclone. There is plenty of floor space for active play.
My daughter spent most of her time in the imaginary play areas: the baby station, the barn, the house and specifically mentioned the air walker and climbing wall as her favorite activities. Both kids enjoyed doing an arts and craft project at the craft station as well.
Parents are encouraged to play if they wish but there is also plenty of space for them to relax or work instead. There is a nice little couch set-up for lounging, or tables and free Wi-Fi if you want to take the opportunity to get some work done.
When our hour and a half was up, I literally had to drag my kids out. As embarrassing as that was, it’s an unequivocal stamp of approval from kids.
Play your way
Whether you want the gym all to yourself or are open to being around other families — with masks, of course — there are three ways to play. Each play session is 90 minutes.
First, there's Private Play: Your Family Only, where you can book up to 6 kids and 2 adults from a single household. The whole gym is reserved for your family's exclusive use during your time slot.
For Private Play: Your Pod, you're reserving the entire gym for up to 6 kids and 4 adults from up to 3 households.
For Open Play, you book a session where you'll be playing alongside other families. The maximum capacity for Open Play is 6 kids and 12 caregivers, per session.
A family business
There are some small businesses you are just rooting for; Kaleidoscope Family Gym is one of them. It is clear the foundation of this business was built on love, empathy and a desire for all types of families to have a fun, safe place to play — and to unapologetically be themselves.
Opening a play gym during a pandemic has certainly had its challenges, Arlene told us. The family had purchased the space right before the onset of coronavirus. But these are the types of places our communities need. My kids and I give Kaleidoscope Family gym a big thumbs up. I encourage all local families to check it out, whether you have typical kids or kids with additional needs. Family fun is beckoning for all.
If you go...
Open hours: The gym is open daily with private sessions and Open Play sessions available to book at various times. Check the website for specific timing. Reserve your session in advance. Note that weekends book up quickly.
Cost: $13–$15 per child. Babies age 6 months and younger enter free when accompanying a paying sibling. Packages are available.
Safety protocols: Masks are required for the duration of your session. Hand sanitizer is readily available. A waiver must be signed for all participants, including adults.
Parking: The gym is located in a strip mall that has a decent-sized lot directly outside of the gym.
What to bring: Socks are required. They are available for purchase if you forget. Coffee, tea and snacks are also available for purchase.
Other ways to visit Kaleidoscope: The gym is also now offering birthday parties of up to 15 people. Check the website for available time slots and details.
More open indoor play spots for your crew: