By Morgan Prewitt
It’s 5 a.m. on a Monday in the summer, and I’m running late.
I run to my car and quickly type the address of a gym I’d never heard of until two days ago—FamilyFit Athletics—into Google Maps on my phone.
The eight-month-old gym gained publicity and a golden opportunity to gain new clients by offering free classes from June 15 to June 22 as one of the 18 gyms and studios participating in the second annual Baton Rouge Crawl.
Struggling with back squats during the earliest available Crawl class, I flashback to just three years ago when I was a two-sport athlete—varsity cross-country runner and a travel-soccer veteran—this would have been easy then.
But now, after countless days spent binge watching Netflix and snacking endlessly, it isn’t. The transition between a high school athlete and a collegiate couch potato is a commonplace in American society.
At its root, this trend reflects a deeper problem in the way children are educated about fitness from a young age. For most kids, sports are their only means of fitness education. But what happens when children grow up and sports are not as widely available?
The answer is simple—most American adults don’t work out.
Andrea Sebastien-Roberts opened FamilyFit in November 2014 to help buck this trend by providing a family-oriented approach to fitness.
“We’re a family gym,” Sebastien-Roberts said. “We want parents to set good examples for their children and to start integrating fitness into kids’ lives earlier. So they have a positive view of exercise and know that it’s important to integrate it into their lives as they get older.”
FamilyFit’s inclusive outlook is the focus of the gym’s classes offered in the Crawl, where ten of the gym’s 12 classes include children or are for children exclusively in four classes.
Each of the four different types of classes provides a different look at fitness for children.
In KidFit, children seven years old and up are taught the basics of exercise and the importance of making healthy choices through games.
SportsFit classes are separated into two different age groups, preteen and teen. In these classes, young athletes learn correct exercise forms and improve their power, speed and agility.
“For the kids’ classes, we make it fun,” Sebastien-Roberts said. “We make games and obstacle courses out of it. The structure that we use for the adult workout is different than what we use for the kids. We sort of make games out of it. So they think they are having fun, but they are learning stuff too.”
In WeightFit, teenagers can learn proper weightlifting forms and spotting techniques.
While all of the other classes cater exclusively to children, FamilyFit brings the family together to exercise. In the Crawl’s FamilyFit classes, there are two different options.
The first is an all-ages class, where young children can run around the gym and play as their parents work out. The other is a partner-focused where the workout will be completed as a team.
For Sebastien-Roberts, the most rewarding part of owning her own gym has been watching bonds develop between parents and children as they exercise together.
FamilyFit’s particular approach to fitness epitomizes what the Crawl represents: a local and different look at fitness in the Baton Rouge area.
Throughout the weeklong event, each studio and gym will demonstrate its fitness philosophy by showcasing the classes that distinguish it from the others.
“I like to pick classes that are different from what everyone in town has to offer,” said the Crawl’s founder and the owner of OpenBarre, Maryam Diaab. “We encourage the participants to do the same thing. If it’s something that they can go to the studio down the street or go to show two miles away that’s not something you’d want to highlight in the Crawl.”
At OpenBarre, two entirely different classes headline Diaab’s lineup—Intro to Aerial Hoop and P90x Live.
First, Aerial Hoop offers new clients the opportunity to learn basic techniques to mount and dismount the loop, also known as the lyra, and how to pose and transition through poses in the lyra.
In P90x Live, participants will experience the proven power of the widely known fitness program with one major twist, a certified trainer in the room.
“[People] think they know what P90x is just from the video and doing it a home,” Diaab said. “But this is with a live, certified d trainer. It’s a lot different, so I want people to come in and try that as well.”
Along with her own classes, Diaab said her clients are really excited to explore other options at different studios during the Crawl.
Two of the popular alternatives are Pole Dancing at Teaze Fitness and belly dancing at Fleur de Leaf Dance studio.
By taking advantage of the slowest times of year, Diaab and the other owners allow clients to explore new classes and get a fresh look at how to stay healthy.
“It’s always going to be in the summer because for studios and gyms summer is a very slow time for us,” Diaab said. “It’s like the perfect time for people to come in and try it. “