Gymboree Play & Music marks 40 years, brings founder Joan Barnes to Gables

Gymboree Play & Music marks 40 years, brings founder Joan Barnes to Gables

Joan Barnes

Gymboree Play & Music, the global leader in classes for children, celebrates 40 years of growth this year with founder Joan Barnes flying the proverbial parachute with a multi-city speaking tour that celebrates this trusted brands worldwide success alongside the launch of her entrepreneurial memoir, Playing it Forward: From Gymboree to the Yoga Mat and Beyond.

Trusted as the essential early childhood play program with over 700 locations in over 40 countries, this pioneering brand has kept true to its core as first envisioned by Barnes in 1976 when she sought to create what she felt was missing in her own life; a place for new moms to connect while supporting their child’s development.

Play floors evolved from modest church basements to the uniquely designed centers all while maintaining the original heartbeat of a safe space to explore the intellectual, physical and social development of the “whole child.” Parents and kids in Gymboree’s pre-school environment have become as ubiquitous as pre-school itself.

A soaring parachute helps elevate the learning of classic songs and that boosts language and memory. The vibrant play space is filled with a range of customized features perfect for climbing, sliding and cruising for exploring children ages birth through 5 years.

Skilled teachers and a curriculum created by experts round out an experience that has maintained its authenticity through the generations.

In addition to meeting the needs of the whole child, Gymboree Play & Music seems also to address the whole mom who needs the validation a play class can bring to her week. It’s a “play as you are” environment free of the judgements and expectations parents encounter everywhere else. Those values that Joan Barnes instilled in Gymboree still hold true today.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary and the community of women Gymboree Play & Music routinely brings together, the brand will embark on a multi-city book tour with founder Joan Barnes. These special panel events will gather local mom influencers to speak with Joan on topics ranging from motherhood, reinvention, business and life balance.

Gymboree Play & Music gave many moms seeking opportunities with a value-based brand that encouraged personal and entrepreneurial success a chance to live their dream of being a successful business owner. Take, for example, local franchisee Coni Ensor Goudie who brought Gymboree here in 1984 after having a successful career in the cosmetic industry.

Hear her story along with other mom-preneurs and Joan Barnes at the first Gymboree panel discussion moderated by Mark Trowbridge, president of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce.

Miami Panel discussion with Joan Barnes will take place at Gymboree Play & Music, Shops of Merrick Park (third floor), 358 San Lorenzo Ave. on Thursday, June 2. Schedule: 5-5:30 p.m., refreshments and “Meet & Greet” with Joan Barnes; 5:30-6 p.m., Mom-Preneur Panelist introductions; 6-7 p.m., Barnes and book intro panel discussion begins with time at end for Q & A, and 7-7:30 p.m., book signing, dessert and gift given to participants.

Books and Books in Coral Gables will be hosting Joan Barnes for a book signing event on Saturday, June 4, 2 p.m. The book, Playing it Forward, co-authored with Michael Coffino, offers an inspiring example of how women can achieve success on her own terms if not initially then through reinvention.

Along the way, Gymboree Play & Music’s founder has confronted and overcame obstacles in ways that offer valuable lessons to today’s mom. Whether building a family, a business-or any complex life-play seems to be the way forward for each stage of human life. The book, which is being released in conjunction with Gymboree’s 40th anniversary, will be the ultimate testimony to many years of hard work but ultimately a brand that speaks to fun and laughter and many happy families who have been witness to the Gymboree experience.

For more information about Gymboree Play & Music visit For the local Miami centers in Kendall, Palmetto Bay and Coral Gables call 305-232-7550.

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