Teen obesity is not a new phenomenon. In the early 1970s, I had a teenage acquaintance that spent a summer at Duke University on the Rice Diet program. Back then, they called it fat camp. He came back thin. A few years ago, my son had a friend who went away for a summer to what he called a fat camp. He also returned many pounds lighter.
Although the number of obese teens has increased dramatically in the last 40 years, the resources available to help these children have not. If dieting were easy, it would not be the multi-billion dollar industry it is today and few can afford to send their children away for months to help correct the problem.
Last year Baptist Health Systems and United Way teamed up with the Alper JCC to form Team Fit, a program for boys and girls age eight to 12 who are at risk for or are currently categorized as obese or at risk for obesity. It was such a success; they have decided to repeat it beginning in January.
Because the family is the child’s support system, the program requires a commitment from both the child and the family for attendance and compliance with the program’s agenda. Team Fit will meet at the J on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Some groups will meet at 5 p.m.; others will meet at 6 p.m. Teens will participate in creative circuit training sessions led by a certified personal trainer. Stress will be on age appropriate exercises with proper form; while this is not a boot camp, kids will be expected to work hard.
Since lifestyle change is required for the whole family, nutrition education classes will be held for both the parent and the child. Separating the parent from the child allows the class to focus on that individual’s role in making healthy choices. The goal is to move towards a healthier intake by making lifestyle changes.
On Saturdays, parents will participate in a mandatory nutrition class taught by Baptist Health Systems from 11a.m. to noon. Licensed dietitians will provide nutrition education including balanced nutrition, portion control, understanding food labels and how to prepare snacks and meals. At the same time, teens also will have one hour of nutrition instruction, plus one hour of group sports — a different sport each Saturday, including baseball, swimming, pilates, Kung Fu and TRX. Participants will be weighed and measured at the beginning and end of each session, and weekly rewards will be given for progress.
The registration fee of $125 per child includes a fitness center membership for the child in the program, as well as the parents and siblings ages 15 to18 for the threemonth period. The parents must attend nutrition classes on Saturdays and are encouraged to work out during the children’s activities.
Team Fit is limited to 32 children. Screening of applicants will be by appointment only on Monday, Dec. 10, and Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. Parents may schedule an interview by contacting McCarthy at 305-271-9000, ext. 277, or by emailing Meg@alperjcc.org.
The Alper JCC’s fitness center features personal flat-screen TVs on all cardio equipment, including 11 True Treadmills, two TS1 Striders, four Cybex Arcs, seven Precor Ellipticals, two Expresso Virtual Reality Bikes, three Precor Stairmasters, Cybex upper body Ergometer, two Concept II Rowers and four True Recumbent Bicycles.
There are 5,000 pounds of free-weight equipment; Cybex, Stairmaster, Paramount and Nautilus machines; a multi-station modular Cybex cable cross unit and a Spinning room.
The center includes a heated swimming pool, racquetball courts and basketball gym, lounges, locker rooms and showers, with towels and toiletries, sauna, steam room and whirlpool. Free supervised on-site childcare is available.
At no additional cost, members may participate in water aerobics, mat pilates, salsa and aerobic classes; racquetball, basketball, tennis and weight training.