Fitness Fun for Healthy Kids
Winter is a challenging time of year to keep children physically engaged, as poor weather can prohibit outdoor activities. However, exercise remains vital to children’s immediate and future health. Development of healthy muscles, bones and joints, along with a healthy body weight, occur as a result of exercise, and active children have a lower risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, heart problems and high cholesterol as adults.
We live in a community where diverse options exist for youth activities year-round, which is especially helpful now, when feeling cooped-up hits its annual crescendo. These fun activities are beneficial to body and mind.
Pulse’s appealing adult programs are now complemented by fitness programs for children. Jacki Lane, owner of Pulse, says, “My children and their friends influenced my desire to provide fitness options for kids. Children don’t have to be amazing athletes to get exercise. It was time for exercise to appeal to all different kinds of kids.” Game- On Kids Activity Zone, a tween-teen activity, utilizes active motion video gaming as a social gym. Xbox Adventures, Xbox Sports and Nintendo Wii Just Dance leave kids dripping with sweat and begging to return. Children five and younger take over the GameOn room during the day, which is fitted with play structures, while their parents work out. Kids Row & Strength is a lively and challenging class that uses Concept 2 Rowing Drills (exercises specific for this crème de la crème of rowing machines) along with bodyweight and lightweight strength training. Fitness quizzes and challenges keep kids entertained and continually pushing themselves. Ages 7 to 16.
Beach Bounce House at Easton’s Beach
Young children will belly laugh and tire themselves out while literally bouncing off padded walls at Beach Bounce House. “I believe the Beach Bounce program provides an atmosphere of physical activity in the dead of winter, where there’s not a lot of outdoor, or indoor, opportunities available to the local children of Aquidneck Island,” says Erik Reis, Easton’s Beach Manager. “Children need to be active every day to promote healthy growth and development, and I’m grateful that we can continue to provide the time and space for them to develop these positive habits at a minimal cost.”
Dance for Kids
All Star Dance Academy (Middletown) and Creative Motion Dance Studio (Portsmouth) offer hip-hop classes for boys and girls. Dancing for children is a fun, sweat-inducing activity that promotes strength, flexibility and cardiac health. Hip- Hop’s self-expressive dance showcases a raw “street” style. Kelley Pakenham, Director of All Star Dance Academy, says, “Hip-hop is a style of dance that is freer in its movement than other styles. This type of expression is appealing to many personality types, hence the attraction for [different] genders and all types of students.”
Skip with the Sharks
Children eight and over will be taught the basics of skipping rope, Double Dutch and will compete and perform. No prior experience is required. Ray Malone, Skip with the Sharks Director, says, “Jump-roping is a full-body workout. It builds stamina, endurance and arm and leg strength. Our kids have goals to achieve.”
At The Hut
The Newport Recreation Department offers many youth activities throughout the year at The Hut on Golden Hill Street. During the winter months, programs include girls lacrosse, a winter basketball league, travel basketball tournament teams, indoor football (smaller field, faster paced, higher scoring), and even a preschool open gym on Mondays and Thursdays.
Classes promote early physical development for children ages infant to five, through dance and instrument introduction. Director Christopher Carbone says, “Music and movement are primary expressive pathways for young children. Music helps motivate children to bounce, rock, wiggle, dance, and move by feeling sound and rhythm and song. These activities can promote a greater sense of aliveness and wellness for children and for everyone in the family.”
New fitness programs for youth at the Newport County YMCA include boxing, yoga and
Girls. The first youth volleyball league (ages 12 to 17) will begin soon. Additional activities include soccer, indoor hockey, gymnastics, basketball, swimming and T-ball. Open Family Gym promotes parent and child fun in the Kids Gym, and Youth Nights (grades four through eight) feature swimming, gymnastics and other sports. The Adapted Physical Activity Program, designed for children with disabilities, provides a variety of activities including basketball and swim lessons. “We are always looking to expand our programming to fit the needs of our members and expand our facility to meet these needs,” says CEO, Mike Miller. “We are very excited to be opening our new Sports Performance Center as the newest space in our facility.”
Bridge to Fitness
Bridge to Fitness is a comprehensive health and fitness facility located in Middletown. Fourth to eighth graders are welcome to a Bootcamp for Kids. According to Bridge to Fitness, athletes will focus on cardio, agility and speed, incorporated with games and challenges. The class is customizable based on interest and typically runs three to four weeks.
Boys & Girls Club of Newport County
In addition to the Club’s prominent and impactful after school and summer programs, a thriving children’s activity schedule exists, including aquatics (lessons and team), basketball, BGC365 athletic training camps (a program focused on building strong youth 365 days a year for ages 8-14) and a fitness room. The Boys and Girls Club never turns a child away due to financial barriers.
Author’s Note: Our digital era enables children to plug into a sedentary life and tune out the active life around them. But the benefits of exercise promote a lifetime of health for children.
As Parents Magazine says, exercise in any form increases children’s attention spans, promotes healthy sleep patterns, strengthens bones, enhances emotional well-being, can even help prevent cancer (“10 Benefits of Physical Activity,” 2012, Parents online).
Take advantage of the fun offerings our community affords children this winter season and beyond, as an investment in having your healthy children grow up to be healthy adults.