No pain, no gain once ruled the way people approached their three, two-hour weekly workouts under a set of bar bells and a punching bag. Today, says Kevin Kane of the Saw Mill Club in Mt. Kisco, New York, “It’s more about the activities than it is about the drudgery. And what better way can we enhance that experience and facilitate the motivation than to bring the family along.
Saw Mill Club makes the inclusion simple by containing a multitude of choice under one roof. Tennis, Basketball, Swimming, weight machines and Pilates as they choose, which translates into more frequent attendance in accordance with strength in family numbers. That helps develop a habit, and once you do that, “You’re more than half way there,” says Mr. Kane.
Additionally, without any nagging questions about how much further, families stay one or more steps ahead of pharmacology. “That’s pretty much where you go when you don’t exercise,” says Mr. Kane, while Saw Mill blurs the lines in fitness communities that have increasingly become child and adult specific, he added.
In other words, Saw Mill is better for family bonding than five hours with a foursome on Sunday morning or soccer practice run out of minivans after school. For himself, Mr. Kane can work right along side his son with weight machines without having to worry about spotting each other. Otherwise, parents bring their children in for specific skills classes like basketball and tennis and then hit the hardwood or slow surface for pickup basketball and overhead slams.
At Pilates Therapy and Wellness in Scarsdale, New York they skip the bounce but also stabilize the body and the family bond. “It’s a form of fitness that emphasizes the core,” says Abigail Ellsworth, meaning that fitness and flexibility follows from strengthening of the abdomen and the lower back. Often family members come in pairs called duets, which helps the habit and has them bringing it home to work on together.
At the center, she sees a lot of mother, teen daughter pairings and has found, she says, “that sometimes they get a little competitive, but it’s a great bonding experience for most.” Overall, an elevated level of communication develops between husbands and wives, and mothers and daughters because it gives them something else to relate to each other.
Many clients give Pilates a try as a means of stress release, according to Ms. Ellsworth. “It requires focus to go through the exercise,” she says, “which takes your mind off of everything else that is going on in the world.”
It’s not built in a day though, because the first session, she says, usually has one of the pair asking what the other has gotten them into. So far, as Ms. Ellsworth has found, they always come back together for more.
At Chai Karate in Ardsley, New York, family members don’t come kicking or screaming, according to owner Chai Eun JH Kong. “Usually the parents always wanted to do it as a child, and they see it as an opportunity when they have their own children,” he says. Besides the ultimate benefit of good health, children improve in other sports, have increased concentration and learn to be in control for any setting.
For parents concerned that Play Station has replaced playgrounds, they can turn to technology in a meaningful way at N4 in Mt. Kisco, New York. Play station type video games with bicycle peddles for joysticks and a device called Makoto really gets the children geared up as they exercise with siblings and friends.
Used by professional sports teams, the sophisticated device uses light and sound to improve the neurological connections between the brain and the body. It helps to develop reaction time, coordination and spatial awareness, says George Grenier at N4. From this, parents are at least finding their younger children much more attentive at little league games, where they used to just stare off into space from the outfield.
The adults are intrigued by these hi-tech toys and give them a try, but they are designed for children aged six to 16. Away from the technology, Mr Gernier says that many of the families bicycle together, and they see a change in their children’s stamina. Previously, children lagged behind on the bike trails, but now it’s the parents who have trouble keeping up.
Doing it together at Mind-N-Body Fitness in Dobbs Ferry, New York makes sense to owner ZeZor DeForce and not just for motivation and family bonding today but also for the long term. “We’re hoping to add years to our lives,” he says, “so we can extend our time together as a family.”
Families find their way in because either parents are concerned with their children’s inactivity or the children themselves have reached adolescence with legitimate worries over their appearance. Mind-n-Body fits the probable profile in these cases of the child who struggles in traditional sports and is left out of the physical extracurricular activities that schools focus on.
“If a child doesn’t have a skill or even cares to have a skill to play football or basketball or baseball that child ends up being very inactive,” he says. They love to go side by side with mom and dad in timed exercise routines that include Awesome Abs, Boot Camp Challenge and a Strength and Motion routine.
He hopes parents and children take action before the onset of obesity and the obstacles that it can represent to an exercise regimen. With an aching back or sore knees, he says, “Now, you have to factor in these conditions as well,” and the whole process is set back.
Outside the walls of gyms and kick boxing classes, back at Saw Mill Club, Mr. Kane recommends activities that will keep the family’s interest. “If it’s not fun, it won’t last,” he says, “and it will crumble.”
Ideally, though, he recommends the foundation that a structure with built in activities offers. “I think when you make the commitment to go to a specific place of brick and mortar, it’s just more demanding and more consistent,” he concludes.
Rich Monetti interview of Kevin Kane, Abigail Ellsworth,Chai Eun JH Kong, George Grenier and ZeZor DeForce