Even in today’s screen-focused world, kids typically enjoy being active – riding their bikes, running and climbing at the park and chasing their friends at recess, not to mention participating in sports and dance. But instilling in children a lifelong love of activity, a true desire to move their bodies well into their senior days, can be challenging.
The key, says Lori Allmacher, camp and junior programming director at Franklin Athletic Club, is to model a love of exercise yourself.
“When they see that it’s important to their parents, and that they are here on a regular basis, that makes a difference,” she says.
Franklin Athletic Club provides a wealth of activities for kids. Allmacher herself teaches fun, noncompetitive movement classes to children as young as age 2.
At Franklin Academy, the preschool at Franklin Athletic Club, children make full use of all the club’s amenities, doing yoga, playing tennis and swimming in the pool, among other things. Many teens whose families frequent the club are still involved in the activities they started when they were just preschoolers. That early exposure sparked a lifelong love. And because the club is meant to be a place kids can keep coming to through all of their growing-up years, young people build confidence to try new things, even in the sensitive middle school years when being embarrassed is the worst thing that can happen to them.
“I think because they can be so comfortable here, because they grow up here and know the people around them, they can try new things,” Allmacher says. “They have figured out that yes, you don’t have to be athletic to enjoy exercise.”
Children can get active at the club starting as babies and growing right through the day they leave for college – and while some will reach great athletic heights, others will simply enjoy a love of exercise for the rest of their lives, and stay healthy well into old age as a result. It all starts with something as small as that first toddler class.
“My belief is that if you instill in kids when they are very young that fitness can be fun, they will strive to keep going, and they will have the confidence to try new things,” says Allmacher.