Fitness programs for kids are popping up everywhere and at Sports and Field in Wesley Chapel, the extent of the idea has taken on a new look.
The Active Kids program at the Pasco County fitness center offers an array of programs for kids of varying ages six days a week. For parents who are members of the gym, one class is included, but the program is open to anyone.
"It's a great way to keep your kids healthy," said Sports and Field director of children's programs Jessica Legg. "The kids learn teamwork and the fundamentals of whatever activity they're doing. The facilities allow for a good variety of activities for the kids because we have a full-size basketball court and areas outside where the kids can play."
The classes provide a structured environment for kids to learn early on the benefits of physical activity. Biko Claxton teaches the Tuesday "Adventure Sports" class for 5- to 10-year-olds and feels the kids learn vital life skills in the class.
"This isn't just about sports, it's a life experience," Claxton said. "They learn the importance of fitness, what to be aware of with their bodies, and they learn teamwork. Whether it's at a job or in the classroom, that is something that will stick with them throughout their lives."
Claxton has always been athletic and recently decided to give up his career as an accountant to give something back athletically at Sports and Field. Growing up in the Virgin Islands, the 30-year-old Claxton felt the impression that adult athletes can make on kids and is hoping to achieve the same here.
"When I was a kid in the Virgin Islands all the older guys came out into the community and played games with the kids," Claxton said. "Without that, I wouldn't have been able to go to college to play baseball and do the things I've done, so I want to have the same effect on these kids. When I go home knowing that they feel good about themselves, that's fulfilling."
Naomi Munroe of Wesley Chapel has two boys in the Adventure Sports class and feels it is worth the money and time for the kids because it teaches more than just sport.
"I like the classes because it teaches them to listen to instruction," Munroe said. "Of course it gives them some good exercise, but it's more than just that."
The structure of the classes varies. Claxton also teaches T-ball on Thursdays and sees a more single sport specific environment there.
"With the Adventure Sports class I just kind of listen to the kids and see what they like because they talk about which games they prefer to play," Claxton said. "With T-ball it's not as open. It's more set as to what we're going to do, but as a former baseball player that is really the area where I get to shine as an instructor."
The program is only in its second week, but so far, the reaction to the program has been good.
"It's still new so we're ironing out the kinks," Legg said. "But everything has been coming together pretty smoothly and overall, the program is becoming something really good for both the kids and the facility."
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Where: Sports and Field, 2029 Arrowgrass Drive, Wesley Chapel.
When: Programs are available every day except Friday at varying times.
Note: Active Kids offers variety: Spectacular Steps dance classes for ages 3 to 15, Basketball Skills and Drills for ages 7 to 12, T-ball tots for ages 4 to 6, Adventure Sports for ages 5 to 10 and Junior Sports Training and Conditioning for ages 8 to 12. For members of Sports and Field, one class is included, but classes are open to anyone at a cost of $68 per eight-week session.
For a schedule of the classes and more information, call (813) 948-5500 or visit www.sportsandfield.net.