By Charles Johnson
Step inside The Little Gym of West Seattle and you’ll have a hard time deciding where the staff ends and the families begins.
The gym is open and accepting of all families. They have families that come from all backgrounds, especially in the LGBT community.
The Little Gym is a motor skill development program for children four months to 12 years old. The first Little Gym was opened up in 1976 in Bellevue, and since then has opened up over 300 locations all over the world.
The Little Gym of West Seattle opened in 2009 and was the third gym opened up in Washington. The West Seattle community has an estimated population of 25,400 people and in 2012 had 2.1 percent of households were same-sex-couple households.
“I feel like it’s a great community. We know our neighbors, we love our neighbors, and everyone is welcome. That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” said Dana Margolis, the Gym Director.
Margolis has been with The Little Gym of West Seattle from the start, but started back in 2000 at the original Little Gym in Bellevue.
They have a family with a child going through early transitional stages of their gender identity and are completely accommodating of that.
“The parents tell us, ‘Hey is this going to be okay?’ and we say absolutely. We welcome all people here and we love you for who you are, which is one of our bigger messages,” said Margolis.
The staff is just as diverse as the families they accept, with two openly gay instructors. Lead instructor Dillion Bartel came from a Little Gym branch in Texas and feels a lot more welcomed working here than where he came from, he said.
Bartel said that moving to West Seattle in general has been positive change in his life.
“It was sort of the, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ feeling, but here there’s no pressure of hiding who I am. And it’s been a real cool thing working at this location,” said Bartel.
The gym follows three dimensional learning that categorize in sections that promote physical activity, mental training and leadership/teamwork activities. The classes aren’t competitive and rather focusing on promoting growth in the individual.
“We always say you don’t have be the best, we just want to try your best,” said Margolis, “Every child celebrates victories big and small, no matter what their ability.”