Posted in Benefits of Exercise, Exercise, Healthy Habits, Motivational, Youth Fitness

What is NOLA Fit Kids?

February 23, 2017, Jean Kottemann


28229207 - group of kids jumping isolated in whiteSo what exactly is NOLA Fit Kids?

The short answer is that NOLA Fit Kids is a program designed to:

  1. Teach proper strength training exercise protocol;
  2. Introduce movement patterns that are fun, appropriately challenging, and that will build structural integrity;
  3. Develop balance and flexibility;
  4. Introduce kids to mindfulness (meditation) and yin (releasing) yoga.

This is a program that was developed because some of my clients did not like the way exercise was being introduced to their kids in sports programs and in school, often haphazard, unspecific, and potentially harmful. They wanted a foundation-building program that would introduce fitness as a way of life.

The long roots of NOLA Fit Kids began a few years ago when, after a lifetime of training adults, and encouraged by research showing the effects of exercise on body, mood, and receptivity to learning, as well as those effects over a lifetime, I became interested in developing a program for at-risk teens in New Orleans. So I contacted Covenant House to see if they wanted to partner  up.

Of course, my program would include weight training, something I’ve taught over the course of 3 decades.  However, I had always worked one-on-one with clients using equipment, and this was going to have NO equipment and be class-style sessions.  I had to re-teach myself body weight strength training exercises.  I have a background teaching yoga (Kundalini) and added yoga/mindfulness meditation to round out the program.

In the end, that program did not last. I tried to get other local trainers involved, and to their much deserved credit, Downtown Fitness Center and personal trainer Iina Antikainen were very open to it.  However, CH wanted to limit contact with the teens to only one trainer (me).  After a few months it was clear that there were other constraints, the byproduct of Covenant House’s commitment to the safety and protection of their teens, that usurped the effectiveness of a physical training program that needed to push the teens out of their comforts zones.

I continued to be interested in building a foundational program, something kids could grow up with, and into, and use for the rest of their lives. That means not just teens, but perhaps kids as young as 10-ish.  They are really at risk of never learning proper exercise.  When I was a kid, our introduction to exercise was going outside and playing. Kids DO NOT go outside anymore.  And as I had learned many times over, if kids are eventually introduced to “exercise,” it is often ego-driven, hazardous, unprincipled nonsense.

The missing piece came when I became aware of Ido Portal, and his animal movement patterns.  If you don’t know who that is, watch THIS and THIS.  I became excited about the potential of adding the more simple animal pattern movements to round out a program for kids.  I am not a gymnast and do not have a capoeira background, so I took his movement philosophies, approached them from my yoga and strength training viewpoint, and began practicing some animal patterns.  The movements are not obvious, are just hard enough to make them work, will get you breathing heavy, and are easily achievable (no flips and handstands in the class).  They are “get-able” with a little practice, but could take a lifetime to master.  My kind of exercises.

As I talked more and more about  my movement practice and kid friendly program, several of my clients became interested and allowed me to use their children — their dear darlings — as guinea pigs. These kids are AWESOME and helped me to understand how to communicate all of this information to young-uns and get results that we could build on.  They gave me plenty of honest feedback which helped me mold the class and, as a result, we now have NOLA Fit Kids.

NOLA Fit Kids is ideal for kids ages 10- and up, but younger kids are okay, if they have the physical and mental maturity to participate in the class.

 NOLA Fit Kids is offered Saturdays at 11:00 a.m., however I may soon add classes as it is kind of popular!




Posted in Healthy Habits, Nutrition, Youth Fitness

Motivating Kids to Get Fit

PBS Parents

Family riding bikesWith childhood obesity increasing at staggering rates, parents and caregivers must play an active role in protecting children’s health. Eating healthy foods is a key factor in maintaining their overall well-being. But, this has to be balanced with regular physical activity.

Children who are physically active on a regular basis will reap enormous benefits. Studies have shown that they:

  • Are less likely to become overweight
  • Have a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Have reduced blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure
  • Have higher self-esteem and reduced incidences of depression and anxiety
  • Are more likely to build strong bones and muscles
  • Are more attentive in school

Now that we know why children need to be active, it’s time to get them up and moving. Here’s how:

  1. Focus on fun. You don’t have to call it “exercise,” just consider it an activity. Find out which ones your child likes and encourage those.
  2. Limit TV and computer time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than “two hours of daily media exposure” for children ages two and older. When they are watching or clicking, make sure they take breaks and move around.
  3. Schedule play dates. The key word here is “play.” Have your child get together with a friend and play a game of tag, race down the block or kick a ball around.
  4. Get fit as a family. Create some funny dance moves. Put up a net and shoot hoops. You could also visit a zoo, play miniature golf or enjoy other activities where a lot of ground is covered on foot.
  5. Choose fitness-oriented gifts. For your child’s next birthday, consider giving him or her a jump-rope, mini-trampoline, hula-hoop — something that will encourage movement.
  6. Clean up. Chores don’t have to be a bore. Sing a silly song with your child as you both wipe tables and counters. See how long both of you can hold a funny face while folding and putting away clothes. Older kids can help wash the car. On a hot day, this can turn into water play.
  7. Skip the mall. Go to the playground. Sure, most malls have kids’ play areas. But, when the weather is nice, enjoy a local park or playground instead. Fresh air always does a body good; especially a little one.
  8. Be a model of fitness. It’s much easier to motivate kids to be active, if you lead an active lifestyle. Whether you follow a structured fitness program or are lucky to get in some morning stretches, let them see you moving. It will likely inspire them to do the same.
  9. Encourage walking or biking whenever feasible. This is easy to accomplish if you live near stores, libraries or other places you visit regularly. If you live in a remote area, establish a safe route to tour on bike or on foot with your child.
  10. Be a fitness advocate at your child’s school. Do you know how much physical activity your child gets at school? Now’s the time to find out. If you don’t like the answer, gather support from other parents to enforce positive changes.

Notes: The American Heart Association recommends:

  • All children age 2 and older should participate in at least 30 minutes of enjoyable, moderate-intensity physical activities every day. These activities should be developmentally appropriate and varied.
  • If your child does not have a full 30-minute activity break each day, try to provide at least two 15-minute periods or three 10-minute periods in which they can engage in vigorous activities appropriate for their age, gender and stage of physical and emotional development. Any concerns about your child’s physical or overall health should be discussed with their pediatrician.