Guest Column - January 2009
Find a printable version here

Fitness & Exercise: A Family Affair

By Meredith Haff and Cheryl Hamilton


ow often have we witnessed our children wanting to do the same things we do as adults? If the ultimate goal as a fitness facility is to promote wellness, why not involve entire families working together toward a balanced and healthy lifestyle? Teaching children good habits while they are younger will benefit us all in the long run.

While economic times are difficult for many, it is important to remember that wellness is still within our control. As a fitness facility, developing programs specifically for families can provide an opportunity for families to interact in a meaningful, constructive way—either competitively or recreationally.

It Takes a Village

A popular trend is to open up established facilities to larger communities, which allows members of all ages to work out together. The Grundy Center PE4Life Academy in Grundy Center, Iowa, for example, strives to address childhood fitness within a community wellness program.

"…[T]rends in physical education today are moving toward a lifestyle approach toward fitness," said Steve Hinderhofer. "Lifestyle approach meaning that we are looking to educate students to take care of themselves for the long term—for a lifetime. We as physical educators can provide support and guidance until students enter college. At that point we have to make sure that they are ready to take care of their bodies, minds and souls."

The Grundy Center incorporates an indoor rower into programs that are suitable for kids and adults. The rower is a durable, low-maintenance piece of equipment where the user controls the intensity of the workout. Rowing comes naturally to most children and is suitable for children as young as 6 or 7. The manufacturer offers motivational challenges at no cost that you can incorporate at your own club.

For example, the Olympic "Row to Beijing" Challenge this summer counted meters rowed on the indoor rower to move a virtual boat across the world to Beijing, China. Participants posted their meters in online logbooks that contributed to the total meters rowed. A variety of challenges like this are offered throughout the year to encourage club members to work together as a team and win prizes.