July 20, 2008 - Four-year-old Andrew Margaritis, dressed in a white martial arts uniform snugly cinched with a green belt, gleefully flipped his mother onto her back at Orly's Treehouse in Westbury one recent Thursday morning.
Mom Lisa would soon leave Andrew in class with his instructor while she headed to the Orly's Treehouse cafe to relax. She'd just finished an adult kickboxing class herself.
While mom was in her class, Andrew had been at the site's supervised indoor playground, running around with buddies whose mothers might be working out in the gym, taking an exercise class or getting a massage at the on-site spa.
This is Orly's Treehouse, a recreational club for families with the slogan, "Where kids climb up and parents wind down." Rather than focusing only on children - leaving moms or dads to sit waiting in dance or karate studio lobbies while their children have all the fun - Orly's Treehouse offers simultaneous separate classes for parents.
"It's the best of both worlds," says Margaritis, a stay-at-home mom from Albertson. "He gets to be with his friends, and I get to work out with my friends."
A mother's brainchild
Tired of hot days at the beach with the children? Not sure what to do on a rainy summer day? Orly's Treehouse offers an air-conditioned alternative. Parents can come for a day or sign up for a monthly membership.
Orly's Treehouse opened in October 2006, the brainchild of Orly Regev, a mom of three who lives in Oyster Bay Cove. She'd had enough of dragging her twin boys around while taking her older daughter to ballet classes. "They were cranky and crying, and I felt ashamed," she says. Regev thought there had to be a better way for parents to arrange their lives. So she rented a former warehouse and turned it into what she calls a "family recreation center."
The club caters to children from newborn to age 7 and centers around an indoor playground with a colorful indoor tree house that is the club's namesake. The playground was designed by the same people who designed the Long Island Children's Museum, Regev says.
The playground is supervised, and parents can drop their children off there for up to two hours while they get a manicure, pedicure or massage in the spa or just sit and work on a laptop in the cafe. (Orly's Treehouse has Wi-Fi.) The gym has a closed circuit camera that shows the playground area, so parents can see their children playing while they jog on the treadmill.
Parents can also take a Mommy and Me music or art class with their babies or drop their older ones at ballet, cooking or martial arts class, for instance. While the complex is used mostly by moms on weekdays, grandparents also bring their grandchildren for classes together, and dads show up on the weekends, Regev says.
Some moms will plan "play dates" at the indoor playground; that way the kids can run around and nobody's house is a mess at the end of the day. The playground has a mock supermarket, kitchen, doctor's office and garage; it also has a costume area where children can dress up.
"The mothers with newborns, they'll come here and say, 'I'm doing the membership just to take a shower,'" Regev says, only half-joking.
"Everything is under one roof," says Jill Pieraccini of East Meadow, who sat in the cafe recently chatting with Melissa Englander of Plainview, whom she met in a cardio class. "It saves a lot of back and forth. I've made friends with other mothers; we've met outside of class as well."
Bringing her laptop
Pieraccini, who works from home for a health insurance company processing medical claims, will bring her laptop to Orly's and work while her 3-year-old son, Stephen, is occupied. "I really had no opportunity to leave him with someone else," she says.
Englander, who has a 9-week-old baby and a 4-year-old son, says she is a regular at the gym here. She takes baby Keira into the gym with her. "She just sits in her carriage," she says.
Margaritis says she used to try to go to her regular gym and leave Andrew at the baby-sitting service there, but that it was rudimentary and he wasn't happy.
Not so now. "My son gets up every day and asks if we can go to Orly's Treehouse," Margaritis says. "I always say the best week for me is a week I make it to four kickboxing classes."
By the day. A daily playground pass costs $15, which entitles the parent to drop the child off for two hours. For the parent to use the gym, the cost is an additional $15 a day.
What spa offers. Some of the most popular services include manicures (starting at $12), pedicures ($24), blowouts (starting at $25), 30-minute massages (starting at $55).
Second branch in Commack.
More information. Call 516-333- 2277 or go to orlystreehouse.com.