Fitness for our Youth – How can we do Better?

What is your definition of fitness?

What experiences have led you to that definition?

For some of us, our definition was shaped by our experience in athletics, simply a tool to improve our performance. For others, fitness was something only the “jocks” did, and our first encounter with “fitness” wasn’t until we needed a solution, when we started to notice our pants were fitting a little tighter, or perhaps when we realized how quickly we became winded while simply climbing a flight of stairs.

There is a HUGE difference between fitness for athletics, and fitness to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Our society, however, tends to associate fitness with sport only, and that is a problem, especially for our youth. There is an inherent short coming in using athletic performance to define fitness across a lifetime.

When athletic performance, especially at a higher level, is used as the ultimate metric by which to measure fitness, the reality of aging is pushed to the back burner. Not only will our bodies be unable to maintain peak performance for the entire duration of our lives, but in pursuit of peak performance, there are prices to be paid in the form of sacrifice and physical suffering.

This leads to the question: “What are the wages for that sacrifice and suffering?”

In the short term, the improvement in athletic performance is the most obvious outcome, but what will the product of that price look like at 80? Or what about when the athlete is no longer playing sports, but still needs to include movement as part of a healthy lifestyle? This is where athletic performance as a metric for fitness fails, as it does not take into account vitality across a lifetime. Fitness should not, and does not have to equate to suffering and sacrifice.

It was with this fact in mind that we at OPEX Franklin created our Youth Program. Youths today need an opportunity to explore movement in a way that does not emphasize athletic performance as the end-all be-all of physical expression. Our program is crafted to expose our young individuals to a wide array of movement challenges, and produce safe and efficient movement patterns that will benefit them for a lifetime, both inside and outside of sport, all while having some fun. 🙂

Fitness, wellness, and illness all fall on the same continuum, and it is important to us that physical activity is viewed not only as a hobby, but a key component to a healthy way of life. The means to achieving this is not by associating fitness with suffering and sacrifice, but rather an opportunity to master challenges that sit just at the boundary of capability and challenge. This allows children to feel the satisfaction of achieving more than they were capable of yesterday, and setting them up for success tomorrow, both inside and outside of the gym.

Our Youth Program is geared towards the local Homeschool Community, a group that the Cheatham’s (OPEX Franklin owners) is personally invested, as they have homeschooled their 11 year old daughter from the beginning. Owner Tara Cheatham and Youth Director Lee Bogitsh have worked together to create a program that supports kids of varying abilities, but most importantly, bridges the understanding between fitness for sport and fitness for life.  The environment at our facility is one of mastery and camaraderie, not competition. (Although we do like to work in some friendly competition into the classes when we play some fun fitness games.) 😉

Owner Tara Cheatham was a teacher in her former life, which is why she felt called to include a small classroom portion at the end of each class. Fun fact: Information learned right after sustainable exercise actually increases retention, due to the increase of blood flow to the brain. Topics covered range anywhere from human body systems and diseases, general health and hygiene, good nutrition, to lifestyle habits such as hydration and sleep, and much more. (Topics are suggested by the kids and the parents based on their individual needs.)

Classes are currently held on Wednesdays and Friday from 2:30pm-3:30pm at our location in Cool Springs. We are looking to offer other class times as interest grows. If you are interested in learning more, even participating in a free class, please email [email protected].

OPEX Franklin

Scroll to Top