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Gyms Helping Kids Get Fit With Parents

March 12, 2012, 6:09 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Gyms Helping Kids Get Fit With Parents

With childhood obesity rising, local gyms are focusing not only on giving adults a good workout, but their kids as well.

Hiedi Johnson makes it a priority to work out several times a week.  But, instead of dropping her daughter off at day care, five-year-old Annabelle is getting in her own work out.

"We get to play whatever exercise we want," Annabelle said.

Annabelle takes part in the Preschool Fit 'N Fun class at the Sanford Wellness Center. Instructors lead activities for three to five-year-olds. Other classes at the center involve children all the way up to 11-years-old.

"Above all they're just having a ball. So, already at an early age, they're learning that movement and activity and exercise equals fun," Sanford Wellness Center Children's Program Supervisor Tami Streich said.

Along with getting a work out, Streich says bringing your child to the gym can also teach them healthy habits for years to come.

"Already at this age they're deciding whether they think activity is fun. If they're introduced to whole-grain bread or a green apple at a young age, that certainly can become a part of a healthy lifestyle, rather than to try to introduce it later when habits have already been formed and opinions have already been made," Streich said.

Johnson is not only trying to influence her daughter's lifestyle habits, but she also realizes the weight behind being a positive role model.

"She'll ask me what I'm doing. 'Are you going to cycling today? Are you going to PUMP today?' She's getting a feel for what it's like to exercise when you get older too," Johnson said.

But for now, Annabelle enjoys working up a sweat with her friends.

"And it's fun to just run around and play," Annabelle said.

The latest statistics from the CDC show more than 27 percent of South Dakotans are obese. Nationally, 17 percent of children ages two through 19 are considered obese.

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