West Orange parents now can spend time with their kids in a colorful, indoor children’s gym that hosts fun and educational art, gym and music classes.
WINTER GARDEN As its name suggests, Romp n’ Roll is an indoor children’s playground set up as a fun gym — complete with art and music classes — for younglings to enjoy.
With the opening of its first location in Florida in Winter Garden and a second location opening soon in St. Petersburg, families in West Orange now have the chance to learn why the Virginia-based franchise has been able to expand to 80 locations in three countries with such success.
The gym, which finished construction March 26 and opened a day later, is located in the Winter Garden Regional Shopping Center on West Colonial Drive under the ownership of Marie Simmons.
With 100 parents signing up as founding members, the interest has exceeded Simmons’ expectations.
“We have been extremely busy from the minute that door opened,” Simmons said. “It’s been great. The community has had a really good response to it and every person that has come in seems to love it, so we’re really happy at how things are going.”
Simmons thought the idea of an indoor children’s gym was a perfect fit in a state famous for its typical hot climate and rainy periods. After visiting the corporate office in Virginia and a few conversations with the company executives, Simmons began searching for a centrally located property in West Orange with ample parking space.
“We love this area (Winter Garden), and we’re just a couple of minutes from Windermere, Ocoee and Clermont, but there’s nothing here for kids,” Simmons said. “There’s a gymnastics studio and a skating rink, but other than that, there’s nothing here for kids.”
For Simmons, the initial incentive to open her own business came after she lost her husband in a motorcycle accident five years ago while she was six months pregnant. The tragedy resulted in a difficult emotional time for her, and she encountered many challenges as a single mom trying to balance parenthood and work.
“And then I went back to work after two years, and corporate America was not conducive to being a single mom — at all,” Simmons said. “There were nights when I would pick my son up from daycare and he would be the last one there, and I would just be heartbroken. Getting there at 5:59 — the minute before they close because you (have) to work and earn some money.”
The experience inspired her to come up with the idea of running her own indoor playground, where she could both work and spend time with her son. That’s when she stumbled upon the concept of Romp n’ Roll.
The classes, divided by age groups, are for children ages 3 months to 5 years old and feature gym, art and music activities.
“The kids don’t know that there’s a curriculum behind these classes; they just know that they are having a great time,” Simmons said. “We want it to be a carefree place for the moms and the children. We just want everybody to be happy — this is the happy place.”
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].