By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
Is it a music concert, a health lesson or a fitness workout? This may be the question that comes to mind for people viewing a Fresh Start Fitness performance for the first time and the answer is it’s all three.
Fresh Start Fitness, a company based out of Pottstown, performs fitness concerts for schools and families throughout Pennsylvania as well as in other states such as New York and New Jersey.
Aaron Christ, creator of Fresh Start Fitness, said the healthy performances include live musicians, a big sound system and cool lighting effects.
“So it’s literally like a concert in that regard,” he said adding that there is also a big fitness piece.
Christ or another trainer will lead students and families in a workout that is choreographed to music. He started doing the fitness assemblies at schools about six years ago. He said around that time, there were some upsetting occurrences in the area such as suicides. Christ wanted to do something positive for youth in the community which is how the idea to combine fitness and music came about.
Christ now works with musician David Charles. Charles said the music helps motivate students to move and really encourages them to participate. He said the musical element makes a difference when it comes to getting as many children as possible to participate in the exercises.
“I would say that music is a really big component as far as fitness goes. A lot of people workout to music,” he said.
Christ said there are three main components of the fitness concerts. The first is exercise. People not only do different fitness routines throughout the performance but they also learn why it’s important. Each concert begins with stretching and a warm-up then Christ will ask fitness-related questions such as how often should kids exercise.
The second component of the concert is nutrition. Christ takes time during each performance to discuss the importance of eating healthy and explains MyPlate which is a guidance on how to healthily divide your meal plate with different nutrients.
The last component is one that both Christ and Charles feel very strongly about. Christ ends the fitness concerts by talking about the importance of self-confidence and self-worth.
“It just kind of reminds kids that they’re valuable and they are worth taking care of,” Christ said.
Charles said the self-esteem aspect of the performances is really the “core” component. He said self-worth plays a major role in motivating children to make healthy eating choices and to exercise on a regular basis.
The three main lessons of the fitness concert are also included a song that Charles wrote which he sings at the end of each performance. The song is called “I Want to Live” and it’s about being on a healthy journey that involves exercise, nutrition and overall wellness. Charles said the song pulls all those lessons together in a message that’s easy for kids to understand.
Christ said the song is a great tool for them during the fitness concerts. He said the students are learning all these different health lessons throughout the performance and then the “I Want to Live” song wraps it all up in a “three-minute package that allows them to remember it for a lifetime.”
“It just kind of transcends music for just the purpose of entertainment or motivation in a workout to actually giving some sustenance to take home and hopefully change their lives,” Christ said.
Christ and Charles are currently creating a video to go along with song and hope to have a big premier in the New Year. They want to get people excited about health and wellness through the video as well as help promote the community it was shot in. The video will have several scenes and one was shot last week at West Pottsgrove Elementary school during their fitness assembly.
West Pottsgrove Elementary School Principal Terri Koehler said it was nice to have a local company come out to promote wellness especially since Christ is a graduate of Pottsgrove High School. She said movement is big part of their school culture and they often do brain breaks with the students including using a website called GoNoodle.
GoNoodle is based out of Nashville, Tenn. but schools across the nation use the website, www.GoNoodle.com, to incorporate physical activity in the classroom. There are even GoNoodle brain break videos with Fresh Start Fitness. Caitlin May, a special education teacher at West Pottsgrove Elementary School, said her students were excited to participate in a live fitness performance with the same faces they see in their brain break videos. She said the videos gets the students ready to learn.
“I think a lot of kids, they just need to get up and move because sitting all day can make for a long day and they lose focus. Getting them moving uses a different part of their brain and then refocuses them back on their task,” May said.
After students attended the fitness concert during the school day, they came back later that evening with their parents for a family night with Fresh Start Fitness. Christ said they enjoy getting the whole family involved since parents are a big influence on the students. Events such as the family night and the GoNoodle videos allow the whole family to participate together, he said.
In addition to the fitness concerts and GoNoodle videos, Fresh Start Fitness began a program last year called Healthy Habits. The program was piloted in a couple Chester County schools. Christ goes into the school and sets up healthy goals for students to complete throughout the entire school year. Goals include drinking enough water during a physical education class or bringing healthy snack options to school. The classrooms are able to track the progress of students so they have specific statistics on healthy behaviors. Christ said people can expect to see more about the program this winter on their website, afreshstartfitness.com.
Both Christ and Charles want to continue to see Fresh Start Fitness grow. Christ said they get requests all the time from places outside the region including receiving inquiries from Scotland and Australia. Next month, the company will perform at a week-long event called the “Health Hustle” in Texas where 10,000 people are expected to attend.
Charles said the excitement he sees from the youth, families and administration when they are performing showed him that Fresh Start Fitness has the potential to become a national program.
For more information about Fresh Start Fitness including packages for the fitness concerts, visit the website at afreshstartfitness.com.