There will soon be a gym in Wellesley that boasts a zip line, safety landing pit, and trampoline among other equipment designed to exercise and stimulate kids’ senses in a fun and motivational way.
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym will be opening at 34 Central St., in Wellesley Square, previously the location of Kidville, possibly by the end of summer (peeking into the windows, there’s not too much to see yet). The sensory gym will be inclusive for all children, though will cater to those with autism and other special needs.
We Rock the Spectrum in Wellesley will be a new franchise for an international business that is approaching 100 locations around the world. Each gym features about a dozen special pieces of sensory play equipment targeting senses from sight to hearing and addressing everything from balance to pulling and pushing motions. A calming room is also available if kids become overstimulated.
Owners Melissa Defay and Sherley Brice, doing business as Boss Lady Sisters, are in fact sisters. They’re both financial professionals (Brice in the public health field). Their gym will be a rare Black-owned business in Wellesley.
Defay says her youngest son, 7-year-old Caden, has autism, and is the inspiration for she and Brice launching the business. Defay cites an incident at a trampoline park a couple of years back that ended in sobbing, embarrassment, and frustration.
“It was always a challenge to find a comfortable place where kids and their families would be accepted, and I made it my focus to remedy this,” Defay says.
She searched the internet for local sensory gyms and came up empty. She discovered Rock the Spectrum, and saw that the outfit didn’t have a Massachusetts location. “That’s when the lightbulb came on,” Defay says.
Defay and her sister had discussed starting a business in the past, and while they don’t want to give up their full-time jobs, they also feel like the moment is right to do this. They’re in the midst of recruiting personnel, including volunteers, to get the business up and running.
They raised some $10K from about 80 donors in advance of launching the business, with Defay’s pre-teen son Nathanial and a friend really stepping up on this front, even presenting on the venture at school.
In addition to running the gym itself, this business will include lots more, including offering various classes, such as Zumba dance and music therapy. Social and support groups will be important parts of the mix.
Haircuts will be another service, and the owners are in search of a barber or hair stylist trained to work with kids who have special needs. The gym will have a retail component, too, offering toys, clothing, and more. Oh, and the gym will be available for birthday parties of course.
Rock the Spectrum Wellesley will operate 7 days a week, Defay says.
The gym equipment is most appropriate for kids up to about age 12, while classes addressing social and other skills will be for children from ages 5-18. “There are so many different components across the offerings that it’s difficult to give a simple answer about age range,” Defay says.
As for locating in Wellesley, Defay says it’s not a stretch since the sisters live in Newton and wanted a short commute. But how the precise location came about was more a matter of fate.
They’d heard from a friend about Kidville liquidating its items, and when they checked out the sale, it became apparent that the location would be just right for their gym. The space has a history of housing businesses serving kids’ needs—before Kidville it was home to the Rugged Bear children’s clothing store—and is well situated to draw from surrounding communities.
Let the tradition carry on…