Healthy, Wealthy And Wise

Mobile Childrens Gymnastics Program

Parents and day-care providers welcome a chance for kids to jump, roll, hang, climb and dance to music on someone else's turf. A mobile gymnastics bus brings that turf to the kids.

To promote a mobile gymnastics program, ask day-care providers and pre-school directors to distribute fliers to parents, then hold a bus "open house" and sign-up session. A typical fee is $24 per month per child for a weekly half-hour class of 12 children. Although certification is not required, you'll find experience in gymnastics, cheerleading, childhood development or physical education helpful. Ask the Department of Motor Vehicles if a commercial (bus) driver's license is required for a bus weighing less than 15,000 pounds, and check city and county ordinances if you plan to park the bus at your home.

Brenda and Larry Scharlow, of New Albany, Indiana, created just such a mobile gymnastics/fitness program. Refurbished school buses--each called a Tumblebus--"deliver" this activity to Montessori schools, pre-schools, day-care centers and weekend birthday parties. At no point do they drive with the children on the bus.

"More than 115 Tumblebuses are on the road nationwide, with a potential gross income of $75,000 to $125,000 the first year of full-time operation," Brenda Scharlow says. The Scharlows have not franchised the Tumblebus concept; instead, they offer fellow entrepreneurs a fully-outfitted Tumblebus for a one-time fee of $29,500, which includes equipment, advertising materials, themed lesson plans, and training in marketing and bus driving. If you already have a bus, you can get equipment, materials and training.

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Healthy, Wealthy And Wise.

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