Families are Getting Fit Together

Thanks to the Metrowest YMCA and Special Olympics Massachusetts

Keeping fit and healthy is on most people’s to do list. For many families finding the time can be difficult. Incorporating your workout with the entire family can solve that problem. The Metrowest YMCA in Framingham is offering such an option.

YMCA trainer Caroline with Debra (left), Andrew (center) and Kenneth (right) Roberts circuit training.

Working with Special Olympics Massachusetts the Y has created a Fit Families Challenge for groups of four, whether it’s a family unit or an individual with three members of their support group, connected to Special Olympics. The six week program started with a one hour assessment where each family discusses what they wanted to achieve. From there a personalized workout program was established for the group. The program continues with twice a weekly thirty minute session with a personal trainer focusing on new exercises and reviewing what was learned. Families are also given a complimentary eight week membership to the Metrowest Y to work out any time and use what they’ve learned. A significant aspect about this facility is they have youth section where families can work out together. According to Thomas Black, Senior Program Director for the Metrowest YMCA, “We want families to come in, learn skills that they can then continue on their own. Trainers are focusing on partner exercises to keep it fun and innovative for everyone involved.”

Fitness is not the only component to a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition must also play a role. As part of the program, families are asked to keep a log of what they eat. When meeting with their trainer they discuss eating habits of the family and get tips on how to make healthy food choices. This is a whole body

Ryan Roberts (far left) with YMCA Trainer Carolyn (left) and Kenneth Roberts (right) learning how to use the equipment.

approach where Director Black says, “Our hope is that people are honest with the journals and use it as an open discussion with their trainer to identify barriers we can help them overcome and set up a plan to continue with these habits long after this program is over. We have found that working with parents and children together helps support the learned behaviors, whether it’s fitness or nutrition, for everyone in the family.”

Indeed the model seems to be working. Currently there are two families involved in the program and they are offering rave reviews. One family of four who has two children with autism has found the program offers a structure for their family that works well. “Last time we had a family membership my son was not really ready. We didn’t get a lot out of it. We thought it would work better to have him workout with us. The trainer showed us exercise moves that were great for the kids. They have a lot of equipment. My son is not a very structured guy so it was important to have someone to show us how to use the equipment properly and safely. Because there is a youth section I can go on the treadmill while my kids are working on the machines and we are all together.” Their primary reason for joining was they wanted to get their family moving more. “Our goals is to use the Y for the six weeks and if we like it to renew our membership and continue going.”

The Roberts family, who is also involved, has also seen some significant effects on their health and fitness. Their son Andrew noted, “I got involved because I am kind of out of shape and wanted to exercise more. My parents feel the same way.”

Fit Families2

Andrew Roberts lifting dumbbells demonstrating what he has learned.

The idea of meeting with the trainer twice a week has been important but they also stay an extra thirty minutes each time to “practice what they learned and have a cool down from the workout.” Through these sessions, the group has learned a lot about new techniques they either didn’t know about or hadn’t tried before. “We’re learning what types of exercises help what muscles and that in a good workout you exercise all your muscles. We also learned how to do circuits to get a full body workout,” according to Andrew.

The family of four, mom Debra, dad Kenneth, Andrew 13 and Ryan 11 have made some significant strides with the nutrition aspect of the program. When they started they received a packet of nutritional information. As a family they log what they eat every day. Unlike most people Andrew feels he needs to add weight rather than lose it. Since his brother and he are both picky eaters keeping track of their food has helped them think about how to be healthier in respect to their food intake. In keeping the log Andrew

The family as a whole has set a number of fitness and nutrition goals for themselves. According to Andrew, “at the end of six weeks my goal is to grow more muscle so I can do more than I used to lifting wise. My dad wants to eat healthier. My mom wants to get more fit in general. My brother wants to grow more muscle like me.” Nutrition wise they’re hoping to continue with the healthy eating habits established over the last weeks. Personally Andrew plans to, “drink less sugary drinks and more water. Keeping track of what we eat is a really good idea. I might keep doing that once the program is over.”

The first Fit Families Challenge six week program is coming to a close this week. “They’ll be leaving with an individual and team program that we hope will give them the tools they need to continue their workout and nutrition goals on their own,” stated YMCA Senior Program Director Black. The next Fit Families session will be starting on a rolling basis the week of April 3rd. If you’re interested in participating email Michelle Krol at mkrol@metrowestymca.org.

Love sports in addition Special Olympics! Check out thirteen year-old Andrew Roberts’ sports blog. He covers March Madness matchups, Bruins and Celtics action, and everything in between! See what he has to say at https://andrewr1008.wordpress.com/.

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