Parent & Child Movement Classes
Getting Fit ... Together!
It's 10:00 a.m. and yoga instructor Cal Clements has just struck
a bell signaling the beginning of class. A small group
of parents center themselves serenely in lotus position, as half
a dozen happy children crawl, dance, stretch, wiggle and chatter
about the room. Occasionally they even sit quietly on their own
Cal surveys the scene with a smile and instructs all the participants
to take a few deep breaths. Periodically during the course
of the class the soft cries of a baby or small giggles will erupt
around the room breaking through the focused quiet of adults in
This is the "Mom, Dad and Kids Yoga" class at Rubber
Soul Yoga. The
class may be a bit more distracting than your usual yoga session,
but for the participants of the class it's worth it.
"Overall, I had been looking for something like this to do
with my son," said Ansley Beacham.
Beacham explained that she used to do yoga at home by herself. She
began bringing her 14‑month‑old son Oscar to this class
as soon as she felt he was able.
Like Beacham, many Athens parents are seeking ways to stay active
and have fun that include their children. They want fitness
classes that are convenient, educational, fun and they want a workout.
The MomDance class offered at DanceFX studio here in Athens provides
all these things. The convenient MomDance class consists mainly
of mothers with pre‑kindergarten aged kids. Most of
them have older children attending a concurrent class in the adjoining
studio. So while the kids are having fun, the parents and
their younger siblings are able to as well.
|Athens Area Classes & Clubs
Dance & Yoga Classes
East Athens Educational Dance Center
Mommy & Me Dance Class
Next Session Begins January 2007
Mothers of 2‑ to 4‑year‑olds
Dance FX studio
All ages welcome
Rubber Soul Yoga Studio
Mom, Dad & Kids Yoga
All ages welcome
Martial Arts Classes
Classic Martial Arts Club
Ages 11 and up
Live Oak Martial Arts
Adult & Family Class
Ages 6 and Up
Family Friendly Fitness Clubs
Adult must accompany children www.athensymca.org
Adult must accompany children
Ramsey Center at UGA
Children may use the facilities on weekends and daily during
summer while accompanied by an adult with membership
Kidz Fit Classes
DanceFX studio director Danielle Mason described the MomDance
class as a "sampler platter" of dance. She said
the class gives the moms a chance to learn or relearn the dance
steps their children are being exposed to in their ballet class.
It's also an opportunity for them to get a workout and have fun
with some new steps.
"We're trying to get a good aerobic workout but also teach
the basics of jazz, ballet, tap, yoga and Pilates," explained MomDance
instructor Kym Rosser.
The class is open to moms with children of all ages and levels
"People who have no dance background are loving it," said
Rachel Julian one of the mothers taking the class. She said
one of the other moms saw how much fun they were having and decided
to join in. "She came and watched us and was like oh, I've
got to do this," said Julian.
Part of the fun is the "go with the flow" attitude
of both parents and teachers. Depending on the age level, ability
and interest the children may actively participate in the exercise
or they might not. Sometimes they participate in playful and unexpected
ways. Flexibility is key with parent and child movement classes.
"Sometimes they'll dance with us and try to follow along
and sometimes they just run around," said Rosser.
Julian said she typically dances with her son in
her arms; something she said is contagious. "The other kids
by the end of the class all want to be held too," she said laughing. "I
felt like I was getting way more of a workout than everyone else,
because he's 30 pounds!"
Rachel said she enjoys the class so much she even
goes home and practices the dance moves afterwards. It
also brings back memories of the years she herself spent studying
clearly something you do to get in touch with a part of yourself
from before you had kids," she said.
But being able to dance with her son is the main
incentive for taking the class. "I would never have done
it if I couldn't have brought him," said Julian.
In parent and child movement classes, not only do parents get a
chance to share in activities with their children, but there is
also a unique added playfulness. Classes sometimes begin
to resemble a playgroup for kids and adults.
"We would do a backbend and the kids would crawl under us
or we would do a pose and the kids would crawl on our backs," said
Beacham about the yoga class. "Sometimes, we would hide under
the mats to meditate and the kids would lie underneath with us
because they thought it was a game," Beacham said.
The yoga class particularly enjoyed a special laughing
meditation. Students were instructed to laugh however they felt
moved for a given period of time. "Once the parents started
laughing it was contagious," she said.
"Now we practice at home and he does downward dog and other
think it's important for him to get involved early," said Beacham.
Modeling healthy physical activity is one of the most common reasons
that parents seek out fitness opportunities that they can participate
in with their children.
Childhood obesity is at an all‑time high in the U.S. Sixteen
percent of children and teens are considered overweight by the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Surgeon General recommends "families plan activities
that provide exercise and enjoyment for the whole family as a way
of preventing excessive weight gain." If children observe
their parents being physically active and having fun, they are
more likely to be active and stay active throughout their lives.
There are also fitness classes available for parents of older children
Non‑profit clubs like the Athens YWCO (Young
Women's Christian Organization) and YMCA (Young Mens Christian
Association) have long encouraged "youth health and family interaction."
While many local fitness clubs discourage or prohibit children
from attending, both the YMCA and YWCO facilities encourage children
and teens to participate in a range of fitness classes and sports
while accompanied by an adult. Family memberships are encouraged
Multi‑age classes are also commonplace amongst
martial arts enthusiasts also. At Athens' Live Oak Martial
Arts studio, instructor Jason Hughes offers an adult & family
said that he has several whole families that participate in the
Tae Kwon Do class: mom, dad, and kids.
"In a lot of cases the kids start the classes and then the
parents want to join. Then the child will outrank their parent,"
said Hughes. Hughes witnessed similar classes at a former
studio where he taught. "It was a way that the parents could
do something active with their kids," said Hughes. "The
parents love it and the kids love it."
Longtime Athens resident Christy Fricks
juggles jobs as a freelance writer, Middle Eastern dancer, and
full time single mother of a 4‑year‑old boy.