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Fitness Videos Address Kids' Health Crisis

8 Mar, 2005 By: Meryl Schoenbaum

Denise Austin

The statistics are alarming.

One in five American children is overweight, according to The National Institutes of Health. Ten percent of American children between the ages of 2 and 5 are overweight, reports the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC considers today's kids to be the most inactive generation in history.

A study published in the February 2005 issue of Pediatrics magazine investigated the association between obesity and health-related issues using data obtained from more than 4,000 students in grades 7 to 12 who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The research showed that overweight adolescents were more than twice as likely to have worse self-reported health problems than their normal-weight peers. Obese 12- to 14-year-olds were more than three times as likely to say they had low self-esteem and were more than three times as likely to be depressed.

Kids clearly need guidance in staying fit and healthy, and video suppliers are eager to help by providing instruction in a familiar format and, in some cases, using familiar faces.

Fitness queen Denise Austin, someone familiar to many kids from seeing their moms sweat to her peppy workout videos, is at the forefront of motivating children to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Last December, she released her first workout video designed specifically for kids: Denise Austin's Fit Kids, distributed by Lions Gate Home Entertainment ($14.98 DVD/VHS).

Austin wanted to make sure she had the best content for the video. With her typical enthusiasm in place, she enlisted the advice of a battalion of experts, including pediatric specialists, physical education teachers and her own daughters, ages 10 and 13, who appear in the video as well.

“One of my daughters is very athletic, so we incorporated athletic moves. My other daughter is more into dance, so she pushed for more ballet and dance steps,” Austin said. “It was particularly important to me that the music be right. I wanted it to be fun and upbeat, not boring. Finding the right music took the longest of any element in making the video, but it came out great.”

Some of the goals Austin set for her first fitness video were that it targets the body from head to toe, she said. She also thought it important to include exercises the whole family can do together in a bonus track called “Fit Family.”

“I think it's a great way to spend a Saturday morning, to work out together as a family,” she said.

Austin, who as part of her busy schedule is a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, travels to PTA meetings to share her information with parents so they can take an active role in ensuring their kids' get enough physical activity. For instance, she said many parents are under the false impression that physical education is a more frequent part of their children's school schedule than it actually is due to budget cuts.

Austin makes use of the Internet to make fitness fun for kids with her newly launched Fit Kids Online Club (deniseaustin.com/fitkids), which rewards kids for achieving their goals and includes recipes for healthy snacks such as Banana Blasters and Fruit Freezies.

Other suppliers are committed to helping kids stay fit as well.

Grogan's Fitness offers Kick to Get Fit Jr. — For Kids, available now, at $18.95 DVD. The video uses nonviolent martial-arts moves to develop body strength and flexibility. Also included are tips on safety. The DVD may be obtained through the company's Web site www.grogansfitness.com.

For kids who like their exercise with a hip-hop edge, WellGoUSA has Off Da Hook Kidz ($24.95 DVD). It features step-by-step instructional dance routines that are simple enough for even young children. To obtain the video, call (831) 656-0553.Popular Tae Bo instructor Billy Blanks makes his workout method kid-friendly with Billy Blanks' Tae Bo Kicks, streeting May 3 (prebook March 29) from GoodTimes Entertainment at $19.95 DVD, $12.95 VHS. The video is designed to help kids become active, stay healthy and build confidence.

“With child obesity increasing at an alarming rate, there is no better time to release a fitness video that appeals to kids,” said Susan Haney, VP of retail marketing, GoodTimes Entertainment.

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