A Stroll Around the Base
One would expect the U.S. Air Force pilots stationed at Okinawa, Japan's Kadena Air Base to enjoy an unparalleled measure of freedom. After all, they've earned their wings. However, for these pilots' infant children-even those who've graduated to crawling-it's a different story altogether. For them, getting around (or away from) Kadena can be a challenging task, indeed. And if the toddlers of high-flying dads are frustrated with being grounded, imagine how their moms feel.
For that reason, Lauren Colunga, a group fitness instructor stationed at Kadena and herself a mother of a 2-year-old son, has launched the first overseas franchise of Stroller Strides-an innovative, five-year-old fitness program that encourages new moms to exercise with their stroller-bound young (see "Baby on Board," July 2005, p. 126). Class sessions typically include 50-minute-long power walks periodically interrupted by brief body-toning exercises.
According to Stars and Stripes, the classes at Kadena "foster a laid-back atmosphere where attending to the children isn't considered a distraction-or even a detraction-from the workout."
In fact, Colunga's classes incorporate the little ones with activities such as one that has moms tickle their babies while running in place in front of their strollers. "It's amazing," Colunga said. "You'll have a row of fussy kids and the moms will start singing and then they're all smiles."
It's a Mascot's World Mascots are moving on up-from the sidelines of sports venues everywhere to the boardrooms of corporate America. Helping them do so is Dave Raymond, a former mascot himself-he portrayed the Philadelphia Phillies' original Phillie Phanatic from 1978 to 1993-whose Newark, N.J.-based Raymond Entertainment Group helps create mascots and related marketing programs for sports teams and companies alike.
In six years, Raymond has assembled a diverse client roster, including minor league baseball teams-the Fresno (Calif.) Grizzlies, for example-as well as health insurers (Horizon New Jersey Health) and public libraries (the Ocean County, N.J., system).
As Raymond told The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., the rationale for corporate mascots is simple: They have a distinct ability to help raise a company's profile and make it stand out from its competitors. "Our business is really based on fun being valuable," said Raymond, whose company's complete marketing program-costume design, mascot training and two costumes included-costs clients $45,000 to $50,000.
The sports mascot's crossover appeal in non-sports environments makes sense to Florida Atlantic University sports management professor Jim Riordan, who notes Madison Ave.'s long-time use of characters such as Tony the Tiger (Kellogg's Frosted Flakes) and the gecko of Geico Insurance. "It's an association with a very happy, childlike figure," he said. "And there's a little bit of child in all of us."