Children, parents get fit together

  • Published
  • By Capt. Erin Dorrance
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Do you want to get your kids away from the television, and get a workout in for yourself? Parents and children in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, Germany, have new fitness programs that help them do just that.

Renee Champagne, a physical trainer who has worked with kids for more than 16 years, said fitness classes involving parents and children are important because the individuals are able to spend quality time together, fit in a workout and have fun.

Ms. Champagne has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and outdoor recreation and is certified in group fitness, yoga, yoga for kids, prenatal and several other physical fitness certifications. She really got into fitness classes with children when she was stationed in Alaska. She said it was always dark and cold so she needed an outlet to get out of the house and round up some endorphins.

"I love kids, I love to teach and I love fitness," she said. "So why not bring them all together."

She has brought them together in a slew of classes offered at the Ramstein Youth Center and the Vogelweh Community Center to include "Core Conditioning for New Moms" for 6-week-old babies to 3-month-old babies; "Mommy and Me Fit and Yoga" for two to four year olds; "Sunshine Class" for 6 to 12-year-old children with special needs; "Yoga Fitness" for 8 to 12 year olds and "Teen Core Conditioning" for 12 to 18 year olds.

She does admit that the classes only work for the kids if the parents participate.

"The kids follow their parents' lead," Ms. Champagne said. "If we are rolling around on the ground, the parents need to be rolling on the ground with us."

Kristine Toth and 2-year-old twins, Lydia and Lyla, are regulars at Ms. Champagne's yoga classes. "Full participation is expected and necessary to get everything you can out of the class," she said. "Parents don't sit on the sidelines."

Ms. Toth, who decided to take her twins to the classes to expose them to yoga, said the classes are a lot of fun because Ms. Champagne mixes fitness activities with games and skills like hopping and catching a foam ball. She also said Ms. Champagne's knowledge of children is important as she changes the class to best suit the children's current mood and energy level.

Games are also important in classes Ms. Champagne teaches for children with special needs. From catching and throwing a foam ball to shirt-buttoning relays, children are working on their motor skills, getting exercise and having fun at the same time, she said.

The classes Ms. Champagne offers gives people more than a workout.

"These classes create a bonding time between children and their parents, lower stress, encourage fitness and a healthy lifestyle and most importantly--they are fun," she said.

The bonding experience in Ms. Champagne's classes can start as early as six weeks old. The core conditioning class gives new mothers that chance to bond with their child while focusing on the core conditioning of their bodies. The class includes floor exercises and other safe and effective ways to exercise with a newborn.

Ms. Champagne own children; 2-year-old Jake and 5-year-old Savannah have grown up doing yoga with their mother.

"My kids run around the house doing yoga together," she said. "I will be cooking and my son pulls me away to show me a perfect 'Downward Dog' or 'Flower' pose," she said.

The best time for kids to be introduced to fitness is when they are young, Ms. Champagne said. And she encourages not just mothers, but fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone involved in the child's life to get fit with them and join in on the fun. 

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