Over the past two decades, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. According to the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, last year only one state, Colorado, had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent. While 32 states had prevalence equal to or greater than 25 percent; six were 30 percent or higher. This isn't just adults overeating. Fact is, obesity among children and adolescents is up nearly 20 percent.
So why not start 2010 off with this simple goal: get fit as a family! Because the harsh reality is, the consequences of being overweight or obese far outweigh a monthly fee to a fitness club.
Family-Friendly Fitness Centers
The first step in getting your family fit is to set up some fitness goals. There are several large fitness centers that are both family-friendly and conveniently located across the country. They offer age-specific fitness programs as well catering to busy parents by offering in-house childcare. Here's a look at the three largest centers:
24-hour Fitness: This fitness chain has 425 clubs and more than 20,000 employees in the U.S. They offer personal trainers and more than a dozen different classes, from dance to kick boxing to water exercise. There's a Kids' Club that allows children ages 6 months to 12 years to hang out in a safe and supervised environment while you exercise. There is a small fee, $2 to $4 per child per day for up to two hours of supervision. Family memberships are available. For more information, go to 24hourfitness.com
Bally Total Fitness: Family-friendly Bally Fitness has been around for more than 40 years. The chain boasts 300 clubs serving approximately 3.5 million members domestically and abroad. Bally offers unique programs such as Pilates and martial arts training. And like 24-hour Fitness, its Kids Club can keep your kids busy while you exercise. For more information, go to ballyfitness.com
LA Fitness: Started in 1984, LA Fitness has more than 200 clubs nationwide. Like the other two family-friendly chains, LA Fitness offers an array of classes, which include yoga, high-energy dance and water aerobics. The chain's Kids Klub engages kids 3 months and older in activities ranging from games to study stations, play mazes to reading sessions. Ages starting from 3 months are welcome to play. For more information, go to lafitness.com.
Just for Kids
Kids aren't left out of the fitness equation. National programs such as the YMCA and The Little Gym gear offer great many programs specifically designed for kids.
YMCA: Of course, the YMCA has been in the kids' fitness and fun business for better than a century. And with more than 2,500 locations and serving more than 21 million kids and parents, it's hard to find an activity for kids the "Y" doesn't support with classes and facilities. There's swimming, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, T-ball, soccer and progressive gymnastics. YMCA programs and services are designed to ensure that every family can build stronger bonds, achieve a greater work/life balance, and become more engaged with their community. For specific programs and offerings in your area, go to www.ymca.com.
The Little Gym: This unique gym has been a leader in children's motor-skill development for more than 30 years. With locations all across the country, The Little Gym customizes workouts for kids from 4 months to 12 years of age. There's parent-child classes as well as activities such gymnastics, dance, sports skills, karate and cheerleading. All of the activities are non-competitive so that each child can master new skills and meet new challenges in a positive environment. For more information, go to www.thelittlegym.com.