Sports

Kids are taking flight at NAS Whidbey

There is a whole new way for kids to shape up this summer at NAS Whidbey. A way that is fun and will promote fitness that hopefully will have far-reaching effects.

With the “Take Flight” Kids Fit program being held three times a week at the MWR Gym & Fitness Center, children ages 6-12 are getting basic training on health and fitness in a fun and exciting way.

“It has been really wonderful so far, the children really love it,” said Recreational Fitness assistant Laura Tomas about the program which began June 17. “It’s helping them become more aware of fitness and that they can achieve their goals in fitness.”

The classes, which are held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and divided into three age groups, are designed to teach children fitness in a fun, non-competitive environment. They are open to base-eligible children ages 6-12.

“The program is designed for kids to introduce them to fitness, but to do so in a fun way that they will enjoy,” said Deedra Ticer the Gym & Fitness Center director. “We took sports and fitness and combined it into one program that the kids will enjoy.”

The program emphasizes cardiovascular fitness and uses fun programs and activities that have been designed to promote the development of strength, speed, balance and flexibility, all key traits that it’s important for children to develop.

The one-hour sessions begin with stretching that prepares the child for the day’s activities. They also work out on specially designed resistance equipment. Unlike regular machine weight training, with the resistance machines a child only gets as much resistance as he or she puts into it. The resistance machines promote proper form and are designed for beginning weight training.

“We want to help the kids develop healthy form when it comes to weight training,” Tomas said. “If they are building skills now that they can use later in life.”

Each week has a theme that the exercises are based on and that the children can get into. The first week of the program was dinosaur week with activities including a “dinosaur rumble” utilizing hippity-hop balls. The next week was “Circus Week”, which included a circus-themed obstacle course that the kids traveled through. Other weekly themes will include “ocean” and “space”.

The centerpoint of the Take Flight program is the kids workout room. An unused racquetball court was renovated for the program and painted with kid-friendly designs. The brightly lit and warm room is painted with images from outer space and includes all sorts of toys and equipment for fun exercises.

According to Ticer, the only other facility, military or commercial that offers such a program is located on Bainbridge Island.

One criteria that the fitness staff emphasized was that parents must be in the facility while their children take part in the Take Flight program. Tomas believes that it would be the perfect time for the adult to get in a workout of their own.

“It gives the parents a chance to work out while their kids are in class,” she said.

When the program is done the older kids do not have to stop there, since they can use the Gym & Fitness Center with their parents. The bevy of fitness equipment in the center make it one of the best exercise facilities in the Northwest.

“The older ones can use the facility after they are done with Take Flight,” Ticer said. “Kids 10 and above can workout with their parents after going through a youth orientation.”

Ticer and the rest of the NAS fitness staff hope that the program takes off. Each session is three days a week for three weeks. As word is getting out the program is getting larger. The “Sparrows” or the 6-8 year olds group for the next session is already full. The fitness staff hopes to continue the program in the fall as an after-school program.

“We’re trying to find our way, to see what works best,” Ticer said. “We’ll tweak it if we have to. We are open to suggestions.”

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