Generations always have differences and similarities. One scary difference between the current generation of children and generations past is in their rates of inactivity and obesity. If you were an obese child in the '70s, for example, you were one of a small minority and at least had ample opportunity to move. Kids used to play at school during a thing called "recess." Today, more schools than not skip recess or any type of planned physical activity. And the children you find in a typical classroom are more likely to be overweight than they are to be normal-weight.
That is not the way it's supposed to be. And this is why IDEA members are tapping into their own childhood memories (and their own inner kids) to offer today's youngsters respite from inactivity. Read on to find out how other fitness professionals combine make-believe, play and passion to help secure a fit future for our children.
Making Exercise Cool
New York City resident and IDEA member Tim Haft lived his own personal Inspire the World to Fitness[R] story, which eventually led him to working with children. A lifelong fitness enthusiast, Haft developed debilitating back pain about 10 years ago from two herniated disks and other injuries. He was sidelined for a time and then decided not to let the pain keep him down. "It was purely mind over matter," he says. "I wanted to understand my body better and what it would take to resume sports, so I read fitness articles and books. I tried yoga, Pilates and various group exercise classes. Against the advice of my orthopedist, I took up running (I completed my first marathon in 1999). In 1998 I became an ACE-certified personal trainer. My primary motivation for becoming a fitness professional was to help friends and family, as well as myself, work out safer, smarter and more efficiently. Before long I was doing personal training professionally."
Fast-forward to the marriage of two of Haft's life passions: jumping rope and punk rock. "I grew up listening to the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and have always felt a connection to the passion, energy, spirit and rebelliousness of punk," he says. "I started jumping rope back when I was wrestling. While my wrestling career was short-lived, I continued to jump rope because of the many fitness benefits it bestowed and because it just seemed cool to me. 'Punk Rope' was also my attempt to put fun back into fitness and to get away from the controlled, serious workouts that are so commonplace today."
Haft launched the first Punk Rope class at New York University in 2004. A few months later he introduced Punk Rope at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. "Within weeks, I had parents taking the class with their children," he says. "The kids loved the music, as well as the relay races, and the adults liked being able to take a class they could bring their kids to. Since then I've had more kids take...