Health & Fitness

Five Ways to Make Fitness Fun

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Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t get a good workout. Here are a few simple ideas for staying active through the winter months.

William Kutz leads an intermediate Tai Chi Class for the St. Charles Park District, which offers instructions for adults and children in a variety of martial arts.

William Kutz leads an intermediate Tai Chi Class for the St. Charles Park District, which offers instructions for adults and children in a variety of martial arts.

Getting fit and staying in shape doesn’t have to be all work, and it doesn’t have to be a solitary enterprise. At many a local park district, a wide array of classes and activities can help to keep the whole family active all year long.

The St. Charles Park District maintains about 1,400 acres of recreation space, from the nine-hole Pottawatomie Golf Course and two nature preserves, to neighborhood parks, a working farm and a recreation complex. Several new opportunities enable families to fully use these park facilities.

“We’re trying to capture some of the younger audience,” says Laura Tiner, fitness program supervisor. “A lot of kids are not into sports, but want to do active things. Fitness classes just might fit that bill.”

Beyond simple fitness classes, the park district offers a wide variety of activities for area residents of all ages. Here are five fun programs that can keep the entire family active throughout winter.

1. Martial Arts
Especially popular in this area, karate has a large following and is generally taught at area schools, says Tiner. St. Charles Park District’s programs include Shotokan karate, which builds coordination, agility and strength; and tae kwon do, a non-competitive activity that improves coordination and concentration. Students advance to the club level as their skills improve.

2. Family Yoga
Designed for children older than 10 and their parents, yoga lessons cover basic breathing techniques, age-appropriate poses, relaxation techniques and stretching.

Yoga provides bonding time for a family, but its various poses can also help to strengthen coordination and body awareness. Younger children are welcomed, but only if they can handle the hourlong lesson.

“We will take younger children as long as the parent is confident their child can handle the class,” Tiner says.

3. Mom and Me Zumba
Open to children 7 and older, Mom and Me isn’t just for moms. Using basic fitness and dance moves, Zumba is fast-paced and fun, so it won’t feel like a serious workout – even though it is. Zumba combines Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves to create a dynamic fitness program. It’s an hour of calorie-burning, body-energizing fun.

“We haven’t had a lot of men, but it could be dads, grandmas, anyone,” Tiner says.

4. Dance Classes
Get moving with the music. For adults, classes on ballroom and reception dance cover the basic skills, but additional classes review styles such as salsa, waltz, foxtrot, swing and hip-hop. For the younger ones, introductory classes teach kids about basic moves, tap, musical theater and poms.

Tiner says the park district offers a wide variety of similar classes for adults and kids, including ballet, salsa, Irish, line and contra.

5. Hula Hooping
Remember when workouts were just play, and hula hoops were fun? Primarily for adults over 50, this class combines basic fitness and dance elements while adding the challenge and support of a non-weighted, adult-sized hula hoop. The humble hula hoop can be employed as a piece of workout equipment to tone thighs, abdominals, gluteals and arms.

For more information about classes offered by the St. Charles Park District, visit www.stcparks.org.

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