Photo gallery: Norwich entrepreneur encourages monkeying around with her Mini Monkey Gym enterprise

Toddlers enjoying the Mini Monkey Gym. Franchise owner, Penny Holbrook, with toddler Issy Greenacre,

Toddlers enjoying the Mini Monkey Gym. Franchise owner, Penny Holbrook, with toddler Issy Greenacre, 2. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

As most parents know, children do not need an excuse to perfect their rolling-down-slopes and sliding-on-their-tummies skill.

And now, thanks to a Norwich entrepreneur, Norwich's tots and toddlers will not tire of monkeying around anytime soon.

Mum-of-two Penny Holbrook, 37, of Earlham Road, launched her nursery play enterprise Mini Monkey Gym in 2009 and, on the back of turning it into a franchise, she is urging more parents to get involved.

Aimed at newborns to five-year-olds, each 45 minute session offers physical play and sensory experiences for parents to enjoy with their children and combines soft obstacle courses, active musical movement, sensory activities, parachute play and bubble time.

Mother to Jemima, seven, and Wendy, two, Mrs Holbrook emphasised how fun and structured physical play helps children if encouraged from a young age.

She said: 'Movement in young children is crucial to stimulating brain development and encouraging the creation of those all important neural connections in the first few years.'

The experienced pre-school teacher said the business had grown rapidly and now took place in four weekly venues around Norwich: Mondays in the Golden Triangle area, Wednesdays in Taverham, Thursdays in Cringleford and Fridays in Thorpe St Andrew.

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Activities include jumping off blocks, balancing on beams, moving backwards, crawling through tunnels, climbing in, out, up and over and lots more.

For tiny babies, they take part in activities to strengthen their bodies in preparation to become mobile, including rocking, rolling, standing, pull ups, and tummy time.

And if that was not enough different sensory and musical props are used each week including ribbons, beanbags, hula hoops, transparent scarves, maracas and bells, just to name a few. Participants can also sing songs and rhymes during 'circle time'.

Mrs Holbrook has also developed the soft play gym equipment herself and it is now manufactured as her own brand.

• Summer classes start the week commencing August 4. Visit to find out more.

• Have you created a unique venture in the city? Email reporter, ring 01603 693892 or follow on Twitter @donnaloubishop.