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YMCA fitness program keeps kids moving

POSTED: November 23, 2012 12:34 a.m.
Autumn Vetter/

Keith Knight, left, teaches children how to do tricep dips during a recent session of Endurance: Jump Start at the Forsyth County Family YMCA. The program is designed to encourage wellness in youngsters

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Kids ran from station to station.

At one, they hopped from foot to foot on brightly-colored plastic risers, while at others they did push-ups and sit-ups.

While it might have looked like a school P.E. class, the students were working out on a recent afternoon at the Forsyth County Family YMCA through a new program designed to encourage wellness in youngsters.

Kerry Carithers, senior membership and wellness director, said the program, called Endurance: Jump Start, had 55 kids ranging in age from 6 to 13.

“It was sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and that’s what’s allowed us to pull this off and fund the program outside of our operating budget,” she said, noting that the program was free and open to the entire community, not just Y members.

Once a week for the seven weeks, the students spent an hour at the facility in Vickery Village working with fitness instructors.

“We split the hour up where the first part we were doing circuit, interval training — kind of a boot camp for kids — and then the last half, they ran on the track or do some fun games … it’s kind of half cardio, half weight training,” she said.

All the students were pre-tested in several areas, including how fast they could run a mile and how many push-ups and sit-ups they could do, Carithers said.

“We’ll do post-tests so we’ll be able to see the difference that they’ve made in seven weeks,” she said.

Abbie Lastinger, 9, said she’s been enjoying the program.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s tiring, but I was not really flexible before, so I hope I’ll be more flexible.”

She said some of her favorite activities have been jump rope and running.

“I wasn’t doing a lot [of exercise] at home before, so I’ve been practicing all the homework they’ve given us like jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, all that,” she said. “I hope I’ll keep doing it [after the program ends].”

That’s the goal, said Kim McKenna, one of the instructors.

“It’s important nowadays that our kids stay active because we’ve become such a sedentary society with all the video games and TV programs and stuff,” she said. “So I think it’s great that they can come out here and do these things.”

McKenna said the program has paid off for most of the students.

“It’s interesting to see how far they’ve come since we started,” she said. “When we started, some of them couldn’t even do five push-ups and now they’re up to 10 or 12, which is awesome.”

She added that many have encouraged their families to get more active too.

“A lot of them have said they’ve told their families to do push-ups with them or take a walk together or ride bikes with them for 20 or 30 minutes,” she said. “That’s a big part of this, to get the whole family involved.”

Carithers said she and other Y employees hope to be able to offer the program or similar ones throughout the year.

“We’re hoping to piggyback on this and do this program at least a few times a year,” she said. “The need is here and the kids have really learned some new skills and we want to capitalize on this and keep it going.”

 

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