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Reaching Out to Kids

May 01, 2004


Subjects: Jill Lynch and Sheri Nicholson

Location: Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Their Clientele: Jill Lynch and Sheri Nicholson each run an individual personal training business that targets women clients. Lynch trains clients in their homes and nearby neighborhoods, while Nicholson’s business, Seafit, specializes in outdoor training and Pilates.

What Inspires Them About Clients: “We love seeing the ‘light bulb go on’ for clients,” says Lynch. “It’s rewarding when everything comes together and clients see results.” She adds, “When they start bragging about the exercise they are doing outside of sessions, that’s fun. Seeing these changes keeps us coming back as trainers.”

Sportsters Classes: While both trainers enjoy working with women, they also wanted to make fitness happen for younger people after seeing so many obese kids at their children’s schools. To address the obesity problem, they started offering Sportsters classes last fall. “We are hoping to make a difference by educating youth so, as they grow, they can start making the choices they need to be strong, healthy adults,” says Lynch.

Nicholson and Lynch hold classes after school at Atlantic Beach Elementary in Atlantic Beach, Florida, once a week for 8 weeks. “For 1 hour we get kids in third through fifth grade and teach them about fitness and nutrition,” Lynch says. “We play all sorts of cardio-involved games, run relay races, strength train and conduct obstacle course games. The kids love to be timed for running and then try to beat their own time—or to increase the number of push-ups or sit-ups they can do.”

The school charges each child $40 for the 8-week class, but makes funds available for those who can’t afford to pay. Lynch and Nicholson get paid a small percentage of that sum. They can take a maximum of 12 kids per class.

Teaching Kids About Nutrition: “We like to use visuals to teach kids about nutrition,” says Lynch. “One time we brought in plastic containers with different compartments and talked about creating healthy lunches like the ones you can buy in stores. The kids took home this information and then packed their own Lunchables® for school. Later they were so excited to tell us what foods they used! We also bring water and a healthy snack for the kids to every class.”

Challenges of Teaching Kids: Lynch says it’s difficult to educate the kids about healthy eating when their moms and dads are pushing junk foods. “That’s why we try to get parents involved as much as we can.”

Another challenge is attracting the kids who really need help in getting active. “We seem to be attracting more active kids, while we’d love to help more overweight kids,” says Lynch. “We’re going to do more brainstorming to see how we can better explain our classes so parents will know that we can help over- weight kids and they won’t be ridiculed.”

Why They Love Working With Kids: “We love seeing kids improve because it makes them so happy,” says Lynch. “We also like when they do things they thought they couldn’t do. At one class a boy said he couldn’t do a push-up. When he tried and could do it, he smiled a huge smile. It is so cool to see kids smile like that.”

Lynch and Nicholson also like that what they teach sometimes motivates the kids during the rest of their lives. “We challenge them to do activities during the week, such as 3 minutes of jumping rope a day. Each week we also give one child a pedometer to see how many steps he or she can do in a weekend. We hope that if kids do enough exercise, it will become a habit for them—and rub off on their parents.”

IDEA Personal Trainer, Volume 2005, Issue 5

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