Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Exercise, nutrition are part of YMCA program for kids

SPRING HILL

In 2000, the Hernando County YMCA began a youth program to educate and certify pre-adolescents in the use of weight room equipment. Eight years later, that same program has evolved into a course in fitness of both the body and mind.

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in American society today. Diseases like juvenile diabetes are rising every year, and youth sports programs provide an athletic outlet for some to exercise and fend off these conditions.

Although the YMCA is known for providing organized activities for both youths and adults to stay fit, the YMCA Youth Fitness Program has attacked physical and mental fitness from a different angle.

Open to youths ages 10-13, the program meets for about an hour a week. There is one instructor for each of the three different classes. Originally, the four-week course worked only as a certification program for preteens to use the facility's weight room.

"We try to focus on showing the kids how to work with the (weight) equipment safely," instructor Paul D'Amelio said. "It's so rewarding seeing those same kids you work with back here working out by themselves months later — almost like alumni."

Over time, the mission evolved. As YMCA Wellness Coordinator Bob Yarzab became more aware of the growing problems of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes, more lessons were added to the program's curriculum. He was so impassioned about the subject that he gave a speech at the Hernando County Health Department two years ago to a group of doctors and teachers on the issue.

"When the program was in its infancy, it was just about getting these kids certified to use the weight room," Yarzab said, "but once we became aware of these other problems, they became the driving force behind the changes we made."

While also having fun and enjoying themselves after a long day at school, these youths learn about exercise, nutrition and muscular anatomy. In order to gain experience and be able to use the free weights on Nautilus and Cybex equipment available at the facility, youths at these ages are required to take the class first.

D'Amelio, Maureen Marchand and Louis Dilusio work as the main instructors for the course. All three are certified personal and youth trainers, and Marchand has teaching experience in elementary physical education from her days living in Rhode Island.

"I really missed working with kids this age," Marchand said. "Most of them have so much passion for fitness, but at the same time, it's important to remember that each child is different."

Marchand and D'Amelio both have been working as course instructors for about two years. Along the way, they have both fine-tuned their instructing style to fit the course. Of the eight classes they teach over the four weeks, each takes one day out for Instructor's Choice Day, where they've taken the class out to play basketball or to a station course on the YMCA's fitness trail.

All of these representatives for the YMCA are pointing toward one collective goal — encouraging youths to live much healthier lifestyles.

According to HealthierGeneration.org, 17.1 percent of today's children are obese. Hernando County is no exception, and Yarzab and YMCA Wellness Director Sharon Kulesa-Fye saw an opening to tackle this problem locally. Eventually, the class has adapted into what it is today.

"It's just so important for the youth to have an opportunity to learn about health and well-being," Kulesa-Fye said. "They see their parents come (to the YMCA) and exercise, and they just want to be able to do it too."

Submit feedback, story ideas to communitysports@tampabay.com.

>>Fast facts

Youth fitness program

Instructors: Maureen Marchand, Paul D'Amelio and Louis Dilusio

Where: Hernando County YMCA, Spring Hill

When: Mondays and Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5-6 p.m.; Saturdays, noon-1:30 p.m.

Overview: Four-week course with three separate shifts. The young students learn about the weight equipment available at the YMCA and also about the benefits of using it. Class is limited to about six so that instructor can provide the right amount of one-on-one attention for every participant.

More information: Refer to www.mypyramid.gov for more on what is taught about nutrition.

Exercise, nutrition are part of YMCA program for kids 09/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 11, 2008 4:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    OF/DH Corey Dickerson missed out on a good birthday gift when AL player of the week honors went instead to Detroit's J.D. Martinez. Dickerson hit .385 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs; Martinez went .389-4-9-7 and got the nod.

  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb learning to work with what he has

    Sports

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If this were 2012 or 2013, even 2014, RHP Alex Cobb would have problems. He would find himself working with only two of his three pitches, with the missing pitch being his trusty changeup.

    Alex Cobb, working mainly with his fastball and curveball, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA over his past five starts. The Rays right-hander tries to continue his strong stretch tonight against the Angels.
  4. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.