New Alternative Fitness Program "FLYs" in Philadelphia Schools

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Non-student-athletes, which represent a large majority of U.S. children, are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Fewer than 1 in 4 children get 20 minutes of vigorous activity every day of the week.

The United States faces a national crisis regarding the health and welfare of today’s youth. Rising rates of obesity and Type-2 Diabetes are a reality for far too many children, and subsequently their present and future health is at risk.

School physical education programs and cafeterias also experience great difficulty combating the health crises faced by their youth.

FLY Fitness (Fitness as a Lifestyle for Youth), an all-around fitness and nutrition program geared towards teenagers, officially launched in September 2004 with its first program being conducted at Abington Friends School in Pennsylvania.

FLY is taught by certified teacher-trainers in their own community’s schools. It provides alternative strategies for tackling sedentary lifestyles and helps transform poor eating habits into lifelong choices for wellness. In the 5 day a week program, each day represents a different teacher and a different activity including Yoga, strength training, ultimate frisbee, aerobics, hands on cooking classes and field trips to local restaurants.

Unfortunately, due to “super-sized” fast food meals, take-out foods, and microwavable meals, a small percentage of today’s youth truly understand proper nutritional guidelines. FLY instructors and course materials give students direct advice and skills on how to break down the enormous amounts of food-related information and products which they are faced with daily, so that they can make informed decisions and develop good eating habits.

The current FLY Program structure has three Food Days during the semester. The first is called “Fruit Smoothie Day”, where students make their own fresh fruit blender drinks. The next is “Snack and Hydration Day”, a feeding taste test of meal replacement bars, sports drinks, snack foods and the “FLY Fast Food Drive Though” game. Students read labels and learn about the fat, carbohydrate, and protein amounts in their favorite foods. Finally the semester culminates with a trip to a local restaurant, where students and staff receive a live cooking demonstration and enjoy a healthy meal together.

FLY recently partnered up with Communities in School of Pennsylvania (CIS) to expand its program throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Currently, the program is implemented in one private high school and four inner city high schools in Philadelphia.

FLY was founded by Laura Kahn, RN and Certified Personal Trainer, to meet the needs of students at Abington Friends School in her own community of Jenkintown, PA in Spring 2002. Kahn comments, “Healthy life transformations are at the heart of our mission. Our goal is to make this program available on a national level to as many kids as we can over the next several years. We believe that the FLY program model offers an array of positive, extra-curricular activities in a non-competitive, socially oriented atmosphere.”

About FLY Fitness

Fitness as a Lifestyle for Youth (FLY) is an innovative health, nutrition & fitness program geared towards youths and implemented through school physical education departments and other youth-based organizations. The FLY Program does not follow the traditional one coach youth sports model. Instead, it is based on a “cross-training” fitness model where a diverse group of fitness instructors, each teach what they each know and love best.

To learn more about FLY Fitness, visit http://www.flyfitness.com or email info @ flyfitness.com.

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Laura Kahn