First and foremost, kids learn by example. If children see mom and dad being active and physically fit, then they will mirror this behavior. So, it’s vital that they see their primary caretakers making physical fitness a priority on a regular basis. Aside from setting a positive example, there are plenty of things parents can do to motivate their kids. No one understands kids and fitness better than physical education teachers, as it’s their job to create ideas and programs to keep kids active. So here are some awesome tips from two St. Louis elementary school P.E. teachers, Randy Fant and Bill Bunton (Coach Bunton and Coach Fant as their known to their students) of the Parkway School District in St. Louis County.
9061 Watson Road
St. Louis, MO 63126
www.monkeyjoes.comBunton and Fant suggest visiting many of the St. Louis-area places that incorporate physical activities into the fun, like Monkey Joe’s. Monkey Joe’s is a fabulous destination for physical activity because kids never even notice how much exercise they’re getting amidst all the fun they’re having. There are endless things to do for kids 12 years and younger that involve being fit and healthy, such as the wall-to-wall inflatables, slides, jumps, obstacle courses and more. All that’s required is the desire to have fun and a pair of socks.
701 N. 15th St.
St. Louis, MO 63103
www.citymuseum.orgFant says, “the City Museum is one of my favorite places to go with my kids.” Crawling through tunnels and exploring all around is great fun without calling it exercise. Imaginations and feet run wild inside this truly cool St. Louis attraction for kids of all ages, as it’s a completely interactive experience. Exploring at the City Museum has become a favorite activity for local families because of the unique space, an architectural marvel, which includes a children’s playground, fun house, salvaged bridges, a 10-story slide and so much more. One of the most popular features is the labyrinth of tunnels called the Enchanted Caves that kids love exploring for hours and don’t even realize how much exercise they’re getting while doing so.
Related: Top Holiday Escapes Near St. Louis
17379 Edison Ave.
Chesterfield, MO 63005
www.skyzonesports.com/stlouisFant finds that “using activity as an incentive for other activities that kids want to do, like play video games, is a great way to compromise. Involve your child in the plan so that it doesn’t come across as a punishment.” This is great advice, especially as kids get older and more independent, as it’s essential for them to see fitness as something to make them feel good and enjoy, instead of something they dislike or even dread. With that said, both Bunton and Fant also recommend places for older kids like Sky Zone. Sky Zone is a huge indoor trampoline park located in the Chesterfield Valley. This place is non-stop, high-flying fun where kids can literally bounce off the walls. Walk-ins are welcome and jump times start every 15 minutes. Jumping is a fantastic cardio-driven workout and so much fun.
326 S. 21st St.
St. Louis, MO 63103
www.upperlimits.com/st-louisUpper Limits Indoor Rock Climbing Gym is a one-of-a-kind fitness experience for the whole family. With two convenient locations in St. Louis, there is no excuse not to give this a try with the kids this winter. Learning to climb is fantastic because it challenges so many different muscle groups. Perseverance, balance, coordination and strength are all part of this unique physical experience – and so is FUN. Nothing feels better than when the kids make it to the top and see how far they’ve come. Plus, they don’t even realize what a phenomenal workout they’re getting. Be each other’s cheerleaders and get climbing together this winter.
Fit with Fred
www.fitwithfred.comFinally, Bunton and Fant emphasize that the main goal is just to get kids moving. They point out that there are also plenty of local ice skating rinks, indoor swimming pools and bowling alleys to visit together as well, but they recognize that not everyone can visit these great local spots all the time, especially if the weather is truly bad and roads are hazardous. That’s why they recommend checking out Fit Fred on YouTube, since just about everyone has access to the internet. Fant says, “there are many games and videos to use that involve fitness activities that the family can do together. Fit With Fred is a DVD series (created by a local St. Louisan) filled with five-minute workouts that get users moving and working their whole body. There are three different versions of the Fred videos, many of which help reinforce academic skills through the kinesthetic domain.” Check out a free demonstration here.