By Sophia Chang
Equal parts children's entertainer Barney the Dinosaur, space alien Alf, and fitness guru Richard Simmons, the program is intended to entertain and educate children while getting them to exercise, Chenkin said. “I'm not only teaching them how to make exercise fun, but they don't even know they're exercising sometimes,” she said.Chenkin began RandiRobics using her experience teaching in camps, schools and health clubs when she was younger. “I started playing around, teaching children when I was a counselor in training at camp, teaching them dancing and movement,” the Whitestone native said. In middle school and high school, she said, she would teach classmates and faculty dance. After studying dance, theater and music at Queensborough Community College, she began teaching in area health clubs in 1984, where she started laying the foundation for RandiRobics. “In 1989 I began to channel new ideas and concepts for young children, combining dancing, singing, choreography and stage acting,” Chenkin said. When she realized that she had an unique concept on her hands, she said that the next logical step was to prepare the program for mass audiences through television and large-scale live performances. “I utilize the aerobic stage to develop artistically,” she said. “What started as RandiRobics became Barney-like.” Chenkin is now exploring corporate sponsorships with food chains to “bring her concepts worldwide,” she said.The program is a series of lively hour-long sessions for children ages 5-12 led by Chenkin, who plays an alien who “comes to Earth to share her aerobics,” she said. The participants are divided into age groups like the Little Dippers or the Jupiter Jumpers. “Each class opens with the theme song and specially designed choreography,” she said. “It's an interactive, space-age adventure for kids with original sing-along songs.” The pieces are written by Chenkin and her song-writing partner Lory Lazarus, who has written 22 gold records for the Barney show on PBS. “My ultimate goal is to really utilize multimedia technology to bring RandiRobics worldwide, to teach kids how to be healthy and prepare them for a healthy life, guide them to be the best they can be,” she said.Chenkin also does performances for celebrations and has donated her services to charitable functions for special needs children. She runs the program at Dolphin Fitness at 30-50 Whitestone Expressway, and will host a free open house on Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. For more information, visit her Web site at www.randirobics.com.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.