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Youth fitness made fun

Posted by Alexa Pozniak  March 4, 2013 06:00 AM

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Regular workouts keep me in decent shape. But I’m always looking for ways to get faster, stronger, and more flexible. There are a myriad of options out there, which can be overwhelming for beginners and seasoned athletes alike. I’ll play the role of guinea pig and review some of the new and unusual exercise classes being offered around the region, with the hope you’ll find one that appeals to you and gets you moving. If you would like to suggest a workout for me to try, tweet me @apoztv.

We were about a quarter of the way through our warm-up when I detected a distinct sound that I had never heard during a fitness class: giggling. The source? A gaggle of middle schoolers -- my teammates for the next 60 minutes.

CATZ, which stands for “Competitive Athlete Training Zone,” presents an array of fitness offerings for adults. But today my primary focus, at the Hingham location, was on a youth class, where the name of the game is fun.

We started out with a game of “wall ball,” where everyone lined up and tried to catch a ball thrown against the wall by the person in front of them, without letting it hit the ground. This was followed up by two rounds of “tag” to get the blood and competitive juices flowing. It wasn’t long before I was transported back to my childhood, where exercise was disguised as play.

After some stretching, the next circuit was the actual meat of the workout. Circuits of sprints were rotated with various forms of sit-ups, squats, and push-ups. To stave off boredom and maximize attention spans, the instructor consistently changed up the exercises after a few sets, which kept us guessing about what was next. Class concluded with a game of “speed ball,” which is an entertaining cross between soccer and basketball.
As is often the case with tweens, the session began with boys on one side of the turf, girls on the other. But sports can be one of the greatest of all equalizers. And it wasn’t long before the groups were intermixed, not only by gender, but by kids of all shapes and sizes and athletic abilities. Some, who may not necessarily associate in school, were suddenly cheering each other on.

Perhaps the best thing about this class was what a good time the kids had. Everyone left with a smile on his/her face (and a little less pent-up energy in the tank, to the delight of their parents). The instructor kept things light and because they were enjoying themselves and laughing half the time, I don’t even think they realized that they were actually exercising.

The workouts and games focus on conditioning, strength, stamina, and flexibility, which can boost their performance on any playing field, or simply the playground. Was this the toughest workout I’ve ever experienced? No. But I’d like to think I’m a bit stronger than these young athletes … although some of them smoked me in sprints. In an age where about one-thied of our youth are overweight, it’s nice to simply see kids in motion -- and having fun at the same time.

CATZ, Hingham, www.catzhingham.com. Check web site for schedule. Package of 8 sessions, $239, 16 for $439, or 24 for $629. $200/month unlimited.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.

CONTRIBUTORS

Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at Boston.com. She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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