By Rich Bockmann
Instead of telling your children to put down the video games and get some exercise, join them.
A few years ago, Jennifer Baker was looking for a way she and her daughter could get fit together, but she was discouraged by the lack of kid-friendly gyms.
“When I tried different places, they wouldn’t allow children to exercise with you in various gyms,” she said. “I decided to research different avenues of getting kids into fitness.”
What Baker found through her research was exercise equipment that does not exactly look the part, and last summer she opened the Move Your Body Kidz Klub in St. Albans.
One of the pieces is “Dance Dance Revolution,” a popular video game found in malls where youngsters step wildly on a mat while following dance prompts on a video screen, and they can work up quite a sweat.
“The whole concept with ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ is they’re just dancing,” Baker explained. “If they do half an hour of that they can very well have run a mile or more and they don’t even know it.”
The game even prints out a report detailing how many steps the user took and how many calories were burned.
“They can take it home to their parents and say, ‘See? Look what I did today!’” Baker said.
Another piece of equipment, the sports wall, lights up at various heights and youngsters play games where they have to run and jump to tap the lights out.
“There’s a game called Knock the Lights Out. All the lights come on at different, variable times,” Baker said. “Some are high, some are low and you have to bend down to hit the low one and jump high to hit the high ones. Sometimes in the midst you have to run the course of the room and do jumping jacks in the middle.”
Baker said making exercise seem not so arduous for children is not that different than what adults do when they climb on an exercise bike, which the gym also offers adults.
“Same thing with the bike because they’re watching TV. I guess it’s like adults. They get on the treadmill or the bike and they put on the TV,” she said.
The stationary bikes Baker bought have video screens that simulate rides through scenic environs such as Central Park and London.
The gym has three studios and offers dance classes — ballet, tap, Africa, modern and musical theater — gymnastics, martial arts and zumba.
Move Your Body Kidz Klub is open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The after-school program, which runs on weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., costs $100 a week, and children receive a healthy snack and homework help along with fitness classes and access to the gaming equipment.
Once-a-week dance classes for children are available for $60 a month, and adults can drop in on fitness classes for $10 a session.
The gym is also available for parties. A two-hour, $399 package includes access to all the activities for 1 1/2 hours as well as a Subway sandwich platter, fruit and healthy drinks.
“You just have to provide the cake,” Baker said. “One splurge is OK every now and then.”
For more information, call 718-553-MOVE.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.