Fitness can be contagious, especially in families.
For the Rileys, it all began when 70-year-old Dixie Riley of St. Charles started working out with the help of Jackie Kold Fitness and Yoga in St. Charles.
Soon after, her daughter-in-law Kristy Riley began personal training sessions with Kold. And Riley’s daughter, Maggie, along with Riley’s niece Sarah Black took part in a special yoga workshop offered by the studio.
“I’m seeing more and more families contact me,” says Kold, a certified trainer and yoga instructor. “I’ve got a grandfather, two granddaughters and their parents doing a yoga session together ... .
“You can bring all levels together and all get what you need,” she continues. “It’s not like you’re just going to a yoga class. You’re bringing togetherness to your families. There’s a lot of laughter.”
Be the good example
Kold and other area fitness experts promote family workouts along with anything else that get people moving and thinking healthier.
Whether it’s brisk walks, bike rides, sledding trips or fitness programs, staying active should be a priority, they say.
The more mom and dad and even grandma and grandpa stay fit, the more likely the children will, too, both now and as they grow older, experts say. This becomes especially important as statistics involving the number of overweight and obese Americans continue to rise.
According to the American Heart Association, nine million children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight, and about 142 million adults 20 and older are overweight.
Because of this and numerous other reasons, area health and fitness experts emphasize the need to model and talk with children about the benefits of staying active.
And fitness centers offer incentives, including classes and programs geared toward children as well as children and their parents.
At the Geneva Park District, both of the district’s fitness centers offer family membership options for adults and children at least 14 years and older. Those ages 16 and older can participate in fitness classes for cardio, toning, strength, kettlebell, yoga, spinning, Zumba and more.
“[This is] a great opportunity to make fitness a priority, and it allows parents time to bond with their young teens if they choose to work out together,” says Traci Wicks, marketing and public relations supervisor.
More than 20 other programs are geared toward families, including a new “Fabulous Family Yoga” class offered through a cooperative with the Batavia Park District. The class is open to parents and children ages 3 to 5.
Value of family fitness
Through her workshops, classes, camps and personal training, Kold has seen how working out as a family can actually improve relationships at home and reduce stress.
Eating right and staying healthy helps people stay happier, she says, and that translates on all levels. They have less mood swings with good nutrition and less sugar and caffeine.
When mom starts to make healthier choices, for instance, “Everyone wants to be a part of that process,” she says.
And yoga, especially workshops in which family members work as partners, can help people bond in a non-competitive atmosphere.
“I really feel it’s key in building relationships with one another, and I don’t think there’s enough of that these days,” Kold says.
“So many times the things we do socially revolve around food or sitting and watching a movie,” she continues. “We know statistically we need to be moving more individually and as families, especially the youth. There is so much passive entertaining now.”
For Dixie Riley, working with Kold brought relief to back and hip pain as well as a loss of roughly 25 pounds. She sought out the fitness program to better enjoy hobbies such as quilting and biking.
“I was becoming unfit and needed some direction,” she says.
Individual sessions led to group boot camps and the family yoga, she says.
“It was a lot of fun because we had a lot of smiles going on when we did it,” Riley says. “It was just a happy exercise session.”
And that rubbed off on other areas of life. The family used to have soda pop on hand at family gatherings, but they no longer buy it, Kold says.
“It gets the healthy vibes going in the family,” she says. kc