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Your Summer Memories...and Mine

Conjure Your “Moving Memories” to Inspire Kids

by Jonathan Ross - 2006 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year

I was tired, sweaty, a little bit dirty, and loving every minute of it. At a cookout I went to last summer, the hosts had rented a moon bounce. After spending a few minutes on polite greetings and introductions to other guests, I kicked off my shoes and climbed excitedly into the moon bounce. There were a number of kids already inside. Upon my entry, they all froze. One kid said, “you’re big.” And then we all commenced jumping around together relentlessly, just a bunch of kids having fun.

Once I exhausted myself, I was sitting in a corner of the moon bounce. As I looked back on the adults, I was struck by the fact that, except for two who were tossing a football back and forth, all of them were sitting, eating, and drinking. And they had been for a while. It was disappointing to see the adults sitting and talking when they had free access to a moon bounce! I hadn’t been in one for many years and I was relishing the opportunity.

Think back to a summer when you were young. Conjure up a memory of a time when you didn’t think about exercise. You would ride your bike, jump on a trampoline, jump rope, played baseball, and when it got too hot, a few of you may have been in your own private, air conditioned concert hall (your bedroom) singing and dancing your favorite songs in front of millions of your adoring imaginary fans. There was a certain unbridled energy and spirit to your activities. You would just go until you couldn’t go anymore or until it got dark, and then you would still try to go some more.

This led me to a conclusion that we need to help our kids maintain their inner child as they grow, such that physical activity will be something they, too, relish throughout their lifetime. That said, if children are not active in their formative years, it’s a safe assumption - from research that proves it - that they will grow into sedentary adults. In short, from a very young age kids need to engage in sports, games, exercises and anything else they gets them physically active on a regular basis as they grow, which will help establish a strong foundation and regard for active living. Doing so can do wonders in helping help them avoid obesity and other serious health conditions.

I realize this may often be easier said than done, as times have certainly changed. Today, there are hundreds of television channels, millions of web sites, and lots of other so-called “reasons” to stay inside. This summer, seize an opportunity to motivate, and bond with, your kids over shared memories that involve some sort of activity – perhaps one that you enjoyed in your youth that you can introduce it to your child(ren).

If jump rope was your thing, ropes have come a long way. Older ropes used to be oddly-shaped plastic links connected by an internal rope. Now, there are a number of different rope styles for every level of jumper. Even ropes with a middle that allow ANYONE to jump rope and reap the health benefits.

Did you pogo? Strut your pogo stick stuff to your kids – maybe even issue a family pogo challenge! This toy was a staple in our youth, and modern technology should not supersede this fun toy that will surely get your kid’s heart pumping.

Maybe baseball was your, or your brother’s, summer sport of choice. Kids need not be in any league to play ball – for the fun of it. They will benefit by developing upper body strength, speed and agility. The younger set can play, too, with a good T-Ball or Junior Baseball Set. You and your Little Slugger or Little Slugger-ette will have a blast together while getting in some fun exercise time.

Who doesn’t love a trampoline? Surely you caught big air as a kid (or strived to). Today, kids can enjoy jumping on a trampoline on either land or water! Take full advantage of these enhancements to this beloved activity.

Remember dancing all over the house to your favorite songs when no one was home? Of course you do. Well now, there are home video instructions for how to do it well – even the oh-so-trendy hip style of dancing that kids simply love! I had no dancing, singing, or air guitar lessons. I was purely self-taught, which may or may not be painfully obvious. These days, your kids can get some help on how to learn the smooth moves that will thrill their “fans” – whether real or imaginary.

Bring your summer memories to life, and bring life to your memories. Share with your children some of those cherished toys, games, or activities from your younger days that all have a fitness slant. Twister, for example, offers timeless fun, and holding those positions is great for building strength and balance. They may laugh at first at the notion of such an “old fashioned” game, but soon you will all be having so much fun together they will not likely care.

The bottom line is this – for kids to like being active and exercising, they have to have fun doing it. This is why resources such as Healthy Kids Catalog, which offers products that have been specifically designed for use by children, are so critical. It’s up to us to empower today’s kids with the tools and resources that will inspire them to live an active lifestyle, both in the short and long term. Otherwise, I fear they, too, will forego the opportunity to jump in a moon bounce in their adulthood.


Jonathan Ross Jonathan Ross is the co-creator of & Co-Author of "The Power of Champions" and Owner of Washington D.C.-based Aion Fitness, LLC ( Jonathan leverages his personal experiences with obesity to fuel his passion for enhancing lives through physical activity - namely that related to his parents who, together, weighed 800 pounds, ultimately resulting in the loss of his father to obesity-related disease. Jonathan was named as the 2006 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year, and earned the distinction of being named among Men’s Journal Magazine’s "Top 100 Trainers in the Country". He is a sought after expert source who has provided his insight and perspective to top-tier publications, including Women’s Health and Fitness, Better Homes & Gardens, Fitness, The Washington Post, and Cooking Light. In 2006, Jonathan accepted an advisory board position for