BY INDIANA NASH
NISKAYUNA- Bosu balls, a ladder and steps line the floor of the gym at Craig Elementary on Friday, Oct. 14.
They lay waiting after school for a group of young students to jump, leap, balance and step with.
The Fit Kids program, organized by the Schenectady Jewish Community Center, has been bringing elementary aged students together to either add on to their other sports workouts or to teach and encourage them to be physically active.
Jordan Yando, the Fit Kids trainer, has been working to keep kids active for five years.
Yando’s passion for working with kids comes from a cautionary story of his own childhood.
He was obese and knows first hand all the other health issues that can stem from childhood obesity.
According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has doubled in the last 30 years and in 2012, one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
Yando is hoping to give students tools to fight obesity and to spark an interest in lifelong fitness.
“We do a light warm up and then we do stations with two or three kids per station,” Yando said.
That allows him to work individually with any student who might need help and the stations help to keep the students interested and focused.
Fit Kids began as a Schenectady JCC only program.
But last year, Yando and Mark Wagner – the Wellness Director – began to wonder if there might be a wider interest if the program was offered right in the elementary schools of Niskayuna.
“The JCC is trying not to be defined by the walls of our campus,” said Andrew Katz, the Program Director who helped bring Fit Kids into the schools.
Thirty minute sessions are offered at each of the Niskayuna elementary schools.
Willem Greene, one student at Craig Elementary, goes to the sessions as a supplement to playing soccer, basketball and baseball.
“He really looks forward to it all week though,” said Bob Greene, Willem’s father. The sessions proved effective during a recent Greene family hike.
“I thought he [Willem] was going to be pretty tired when we got up to the top,” said Greene. But Willem wasn’t winded at all.
Another Fit Kid, Alexander (or Sasha) Egan, surprised his family a little by joining the program this year.
Although he’s played soccer, baseball and tried out boxing, just ‘working out’ doesn’t normally appeal to him.
Egan said that the program is hard, but that’s he’s proud of himself for going.
The session had the kids doing ‘high five’ push-ups, running warm ups, squats while balancing on the Bosu balls, and running laps.
But the idea has taken off within the schools and people have been asking Wagner and Katz whether or not older kids might be able to join.
The Fit Kids program works with students in third through fifth grades.
Wagner and Katz are now working to organize a similar program for students in middle school.
“We’re calling it Fitness Frenzy,” Wagner said. For now, the program will only be offered at the Schenectady JCC.