Field House at Chelsea Piers; Provena St. Mary's Wellness & Fitness Center; Liberty Fitness

These innovative programming ideas motivate members to exercise using all offered programs and products.

K.I.D.S.S. Get Fit in N.Y. Field House at Chelsea Piers, New York, N.Y.

TEAM SPORTS AREN'T for all kids, but, without them, there are few activities that keep children moving, instead of sitting in front of the TV and computer. So, as part of a continuing effort to keep New York's kids active and healthy, the Field House at Chelsea Piers launched K.I.D.S.S., or the Kid's Individual-Development Sports Series. K.I.D.S.S. offers classes that are specially designed for children who want challenging individual physical activities and structured skill development.

The K.I.D.S.S. classes are designed to be fun, interactive and action-packed (without focusing on traditional team sports) for children ages five to 13, and are held during after-school hours, and on weekends. Examples of class types include Gymjitsu, for ages five to seven, which incorporates the strength and coordination of gymnastics with the speed and concentration of martial arts; Sports Adventure, for ages six to 10, a multi-sport class featuring soccer, gymnastics, rock climbing, basketball and baseball; Fun Fit, for ages five to 13, which uses innovative, kid-friendly exercise equipment to encourage and motivate children while introducing them to fun new ways to stay fit; and Advanced Rock, a program for children ages eight to 12 who have knowledge of climbing or have previously taken a rock climbing class at the facility.

There are currently approximately 150 children who participate in classes at the Field House. "The K.I.D.S.S. program is the perfect way for children to experience all sorts of exciting activities without the pressure of team sport participation," says Jack Hyman, director of youth fitness at the Field House. "The variety of class offerings at Chelsea Piers help to keep every child active. We want to meet the fitness goals of every child -- whether it's to stay in shape, to lose some weight, to get stronger or to just have some fun!"

Partnership Provides Exercise for Disabled Provena St. Mary's Wellness & Fitness Center, Bourbannais, Ill.

OFTEN, PEOPLE WITH disabilities have a difficult time finding fitness facilities that are equipped to accommodate their special needs. One exception to that, however, is Provena St. Mary's Wellness & Fitness Center, which was established in 1997 to serve all individuals, including those with physical and mental disabilities. In addition to the 60 percent of its members who are older adults, post-rehab patients or have a disability, it also has an agreement with the Kankakee County Training Center for the Disabled (KCTC) and the Chamness House (a group home) to provide fitness and general inclusion activities.

According to Wellness Coordinator Kelly Hull, "Groups of six to 15 are able to meet with an instructor two times per week for 45 minutes of fitness instruction. This includes cardiovascular exercise and strength-training exercise." Most of the center's staff have college and higher education degrees, and are certified by various national organizations, making them better able to deal with the population. And, participants are accompanied by a nurse from KCTC who informs the fitness center staff of any changes in medical history, health status or medication.

In effect for five years, the program has been a win/win situation for the Wellness Center and for participants. The fitness center staff continue to learn about various diseases and disabilities to better train them to work with these groups, and participants are seeing results. Hull says results are monitored for fitness improvements (cardiovascular and strength), health improvements (weight loss, body mass index, behavior change) and lifestyle improvements (increased participation and inclusion with community members). Plus, the fitness center is cost effective. "Not only do individuals get to save their (or their guardian's) money by not having to attend sessions with physical therapists, it saves money by improving their health (e.g., fewer doctor's appointments, medical procedures and/or medications).

Light System Helps Deaf Get Fit Liberty Fitness, Riverside, Calif.

WHEN EVALUATING WAYS to serve people with disabilities, the deaf are often overlooked -- especially at the growing number of 30-minute, circuit training facilities, where members depend on their hearing to participate. So, when Dianne and Larry Brown, owner's of the Liberty Fitness franchise in Riverside, Calif., discovered how large the hard-of-hearing and deaf population is in their city, they decided to design a light system that provides these customers with visual cues to let them know when to change exercise stations or to check their heart rate.

The light device consists of two signs mounted on each side of the Liberty Fitness circuit that direct women through their 30-minute workouts. One sign, lit by a blinking green light, is synchronized with the circuit voice prompt that notifies women to "change positions now." The second sign, with a heart shape lit by a red light, is synchronized with the circuit voice prompt that states, "please stop exercising and get ready for a heart rate count." The sign blinks twice to indicate it's time to check their heart rate, and then glows steady for the heart check's 10-second count.

The Browns implemented the device in the Spring of 2005, and they already have about 15 members taking advantage of it. "We wanted to figure out a way for [the deaf community] to work out more independently so that they didn't feel singled out," explains Dianne Brown. The Browns have received praise from the California School for the Deaf and the Center on Deafness Inland Empire, and they have received an award from the Mayor's Model Deaf Community Task Force. "This revolutionary system opens the door to a whole new population of women who previously faced challenges with circuit workouts," says Linda Burzynski, CEO of Liberty Fitness. The franchise is currently evaluating the best way to encourage all Liberty Fitness locations to adopt this visual cuing system.

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