April 28, 2005
Evan Bailey has a fitness goal when he sits down at the lat pull-down machine. The 9-year-old wants "stronger muscles" so he can be a better BMX rider.
Previously, when his parents went to the gym, Bailey had no place to work out. Now he and other kids his age have their own fitness facility at the Mesa YMCA.
"I like that it is good for my lungs and heart and that I’ll get some good muscles," says Ari Dunn, 10, who’s partial to the stationary bikes with Game Boy attachments.
"I had never worked out in a gym before," says Lissa Hadsall. She likes the bikes, too, but for a different reason: "I hardly ever get to go ride my bike except on the weekends," the Mesa 8-year-old says.
The Kids’ Fitness Center, designed to get kids ages 6 to 14 physically active, opened in February thanks to a $25,000 Bright Ideas grant from the Valley of the Sun YMCA, says Damon Olsen, executive director of the Mesa YMCA.
Equipment geared to kids from 4 feet to 5 feet 7 inches tall addresses strength training needs, and bicycles, which must be pedaled to operate the Game Boys, meet cardio requirements.
"At some point the fitness center will have to expand because kids get bored with the same equipment," says Matt Hill, YMCA fitness attendant and personal trainer.
"The more aware kids are as to how exercise affects weight, the better," Hill says. As a trainer, he also likes the idea that proper equipment use is stressed.
Before they can work out in the center, youngsters get an orientation on all equipment and an exercise card to keep track of their workouts.
Jan Hertzfeld, health and fitness director of the Mesa branch, says children who associate fun with exercise are more likely to take the habit into adulthood.
The Kids’ Fitness Center at the Mesa YMCA
Where: 207 N. Mesa Drive Hours: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Information: (480) 827-4100.