Programs around COMO to keep your kids healthy and active.
When did telling your kids to “go play”, turn into them grabbing their iPad and sitting on the couch? Today, society tells kids that they don’t need to be active. Laziness and unhealthy habits can affect kids’ positive attitudes and mindsets as well as their physical health. It is easy to get drawn into the appeal of staying inside and watching a movie with them, rather than playing a game of tag outside. Those days are over! The time to break bad habits and teach your kids ways to have a healthy mind and body is now.
The Columbia area makes this an easy task because it is essentially one big playground! There are numerous opportunities in the area to help excite your kids and get them moving.
Girls on the Run
Columbia is fortunate to be a part of the Heart of Missouri Council for Girls on the Run. GOTR is a nation-wide organization that helps motivate young girls and promote a healthy body image and active lifestyle. They offer an after school training program in the Spring and Fall for young girls while learning valuable lessons each day about positivity and a positive self-image. At the end of the 10-week session, the girls get to participate in a 5K with all of the other kids from the various schools and sites participating in the program.
Council Director for Heart of Missouri GOTR, Cheryl Unterschutz, had a few tips on how to keep your kids motivated.
“It is important to remember that kids operate a little differently than adults. Kids are going to give it their all for a while and then they’re going to need to step away for a little bit and that’s ok! They have to go at their own pace.” She also adds, “Don’t focus on performance. Let them play! Let them get outside and run around, it’s the easiest way to get them moving and active.”
Another important motivating factor is to teach them about a healthy body image. That is one of the main missions at Girls on the Run.
“In our program we really focus on pacing yourself and not feeling bad if you have to take a break. It is about self-empowerment, teaching them to brag on themselves sometimes and feel good about their accomplishments, while staying extremely active” Unterschutz explains.
The beauty of this program is that it encourages young women to support each other and their fitness goals. Each day after their team workout and lesson, the kids nominate one of their peers for an energy award. This encourages the girls to put forth effort while continuing to support and celebrate their accomplishments. What this organization is doing for the community is truly amazing and it is a great way to get young girls moving and active in the Columbia area.
The fun doesn’t stop there! CrossFit Fringe, Columbia’s original CrossFit affiliate, is creating an active environment for kids with exciting fitness classes made especially for youth. Owners, Tyler Lasley and Matt Kitzi, oversee the CrossFit kid’s programs. There are 2 levels of classes offered; junior varsity for kids typically ages 4-7; and a varsity class for upper elementary and middle school ages. Tyler and Matt keep the kids moving with high energy workouts that match their skill level and encourage them to stay active all while learning how to train properly. Kitzi explains, “We really try to teach them proper technique and form at that young age. We make sure they have the right structure and understanding of how to move, were not trying to max them out.”
Getting your kid moving is easier than you think! There are many benefits when it comes to getting hem excited about fitness early. Kitzi says, “The good thing about kids is that they don’t have all the bad habits that you do when you get older.” Lasley adds, “When working with adults I spend the majority of the time fixing bad movement habits, that could have been learned previously.”
Like Unterschutz, the men of CrossFit Fringe have some ideas on how to keep your kids motivated to stay active.
“Keep fitness accessible”, says Kitzi, “It needs to be something you can get to right away.” Lasley explains the importance of generalization when motivating them, “The approach that we take is more general because we combine aspects from all sports and we don’t just focus on one thing. As far as lifetime fitness goes, not specializing too early is very important!” Staying away from this generalization aspect, helps kids to not burnout on sports. Kitzi also suggests motivating them by putting them into an environment that they enjoy. This will make fitness fun and something to look forward to!
The kids will do a hard workout because they know that they get to play a fun activity or game afterwards, this encourages the kids to be social and make friends who also enjoy fitness! “I’ve seen the kids in the program have significant change socially. Some of these kids come in really shy or a little socially awkward and over time they start interacting more in class and with other kids”, says Lasley. This social engagement carries into their school life as well, especially gym class. CrossFit Fringe is really giving kids in the Columbia area an opportunity to learn to love fitness at an early age, something that will benefit them immensely in creating a healthy and positive lifestyle.
Fuel Their Fitness
So now that you’ve got them active, it’s time to focus on what to feed your kiddos. Because they are constantly growing, food choices are a critical part of keeping kids healthy. Kelsie Knerr is a dietician at Boone Hospital Center here in Columbia. She has a few tips when it comes to providing proper nutrition for kids.
Knerr understands that parents have a hard task when it comes to monitoring what their kids eat, “Remember you aren’t in charge of what they put in their mouth, that is your kid’s job, but you are in charge of what is presented to them!”, she explains. Knerr also emphasizes the importance of having easy access to fruits and vegetables around the house and says that growing veggies in a home garden is a way to make nutrition fun for your kiddos.
Getting them involved with cooking and having them feel comfortable in the kitchen can be very beneficial in helping them create healthy habits. As dietician, Knerr explains that she sees adults who are scared to cook far too often. She adds “Even if it is baking cookies at first, kids benefit from learning to love being in the kitchen teaching confidence in the kitchen at an early age benefits them so much in the long run.”
Another important factor in your child’s nutrition is balance. We hear this word a lot when it comes to health and fitness, but it is just as relevant when it comes to food. “Help plan your kid’s meals so that they have a balance of protein, high fiber carbohydrates, and healthy fats.” Knerr describes that this in return makes them feel more satisfied and that desire for processed foods and sweets lessens. These fun tips will make healthy food something for your kids to be excited about!
Parents, the theme here is to not give up! Get your kids involved in something they enjoy. With a little help from the health and fitness experts mentioned and their awesome organizations, your kid will be up and moving in no time!