Relay Race to Fun &

By Joy Keller

Fitness
Fast-forward to the marriage of two of Haft’s life passions: jumping rope and punk rock.”I grew up listening to the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and have always felt a connection to the passion, energy, spirit and rebelliousness of punk,” he says. “I started jumping rope back when I was wrestling. While my wrestling career was short-lived, I continued to jump rope because of the many fitness benefits it bestowed and because it just seemed cool to me. `Punk Rope’ was also my attempt to put fun back into fitness and to get away from the controlled, serious workouts that are so commonplace today.” Haft launched the first Punk Rope class at New York University in 2004. A few months later he introduced Punk Rope at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. “Within weeks, I had parents taking the class with their children,” he says. “The kids loved the music, as well as the relay races, and the adults liked being able to take a class they could bring their kids to. Since then I’ve had more kids take the class, even though it’s listed on the adult fitness schedule.” A typical Punk Rope class for kids involves a wide range of activities. Variety, says Haft, is key. “We try to keep the movements fairly simple so that the frustration level is low. For example, we do some rope swinging and jumping, some simple relay races, animal movements like bear walks and kangaroo hops, and drills like partner high-fives. The beauty of punk rock is that some of the songs are very short, many being a minute or less.” While the jump rope may have been a regular sight on playgrounds past, many kids these days spend more time indoors watching television than outside experimenting with fitness toys. For this reason, Haft says he makes sure the participants pace themselves. “The kids get very excited, although sometimes they also get very tired,” he says. “For many children, this is the most intense workout they’ve ever done. I think the children enjoy acquir-

IDEA members help kids do what comes naturally:

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Play and move their bodies.

Generations always have differences and similarities. One scary difference between the current generation of children and generations past is in their rates of inactivity and obesity. If you were an obese child in the ’70s, for example, you were one of a small minority and at least had ample opportunity to move. Kids used to play at school during a thing called “recess.” Today, more schools than not skip recess or any type of planned physical activity. And the children you find in a typical classroom are more likely to be overweight than they are to be normal-weight. That is not the way it’s supposed to be. And this is why IDEA members are tapping into their own childhood memories (and their own inner kids) to offer today’s youngsters respite from inactivity. Read on to find out how other fitness professionals combine make-believe, play and passion to help secure a fit future for our children.

Making Exercise Cool
New York City resident and IDEA member Tim Haft lived his own personal Inspire the World to Fitness