Ohio TLG

Grandmother with Decades of Law Experience Turns to The Little Gym Franchise as Second Act

The Little Gym International, the world’s premier enrichment and physical development center for children ages four months through 12 and part of the youth enrichment growth-focused platform Unleashed Brands, has signed a new franchise agreement with Belinda Kyles-Gest, a former Major Crimes Prosecutor who was inspired by her own kids and granddaughter to open a gym in Highland Heights, Ohio early next year.

Gest grew upin East Cleveland, Ohio where her father, who served in Vietnam, worked as a police officer and her mom taught preschool. All three of her adult children work in some capacity with kids. Her daughter Kenya is an elementary school teacher and dance teacher. Another daughter Nikiiyah, works in animation and is a children’s book illustrator. The youngest daughter Simone, majored in child psychology and is now a graduate student at Towson University. All three took classes at The Little Gym when they were young and now her granddaughter is enrolled in classes at The Little Gym. Gest loves watching her laugh and learn in the gym and this laughter is one of the primary reasons she decided to become part of Unleashed Brands. Another motivator to open a gym came after she lost her husband in 2022, after a yearlong battle with cancer. Before his illness, they dreamed about enjoying a less stressful work life, while having fun and impacting their community.

Gest is also certified to teach high school and wants to integrate her love of fun, learning and children into everything she does. “In the next chapter of my life, I want to do something really fun and that allows me to connect with families while playing, learning and doing life together. I want every kid to have access to the fun that The Little Gym offers, so delivering high quality recreational activities to families is a priority. I am blown away by Unleashed Brands and the variety of youth enrichment and recreational brands they offer,” said Gest, adding that the partnership feels like a natural fit. “I’m thrilled to align my values with Unleashed Brands and The Little Gym and invest in the lives of families as a mom, grandmother and business owner.

September 10, 2023 marks National Grandparents Day and according to SCORE’s 2023 Megaphone of Main Street Report, these entrepreneurs age 55+ make up a little over half of all small business owners in the U.S. Seniors aged 55+ make up only 21 percent of the U.S. population, but own 50.9 percent of all small businesses.

With nearly 400 locations across 31 countries, The Little Gym teaches kids social and physical skills appropriate to each stage of childhood by creating opportunities to experience achievement and build self-confidence. At the core of the international franchise’s mission is becoming the foundation of a child’s development that will set them up for success. Through three-dimensional learning including physical activities, cognitive skills and social and emotional learning, the core teaching methods create opportunities for children to experience achievement and build self-confidence.

The Little Gym's network of franchisees is a diverse group made up of parents, accounting, finance, sales leaders, operations executives, existing business owners and beyond. To learn more about how you can become a The Little Gym owner visit www.TheLittleGymFranchise.com/.