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HUNTINGTON — At her request, Sarah Specht and her family of four received Huntington YMCA’s “Family Fit” program as a Christmas present in 2013. She thought it would be a great way to spend time together and learn healthy habits. Little did she know what a tremendous gift that would turn out to be.

“The first day, we had to run a mile, do pushups and sit ups, and worst of all, we had to get weighed. Nothing like getting on a scale the week after Christmas,” Sarah Specht said. “The second class, we listened to a doctor and dietitian tell us to ditch everything we’ve ever learned about dieting and follow a low-carb diet. That first week was hard, but something clicked for us as a family and we decided, as a family, we were going to work hard and do what we were told to do.”

She was dreading the second week, but by the time the program had finished, her family had changed their mindsets and habits and had some weight loss to show for it. Well, one son actually gained weight, but it was a needed weight gain, Specht said.

The YMCA is enrolling for its next session of the Family Fit program, as well as the Kid Fit program, both part of the Y’s new Kids in Motion wellness initiative. Family Fit is an exercise and nutrition program that encourages families to exercise and focus on wellness together. Kid Fit uses “exer-gaming” equipment to make fitness fun, as well as focusing on nutrition. The family program and kids program involve weight and body mass index tracking, along with nutrition classes at Huntington’s Kitchen.

The programs’ next sessions start in August.

“The benefits of working out as a family are wonderful,” said Jamie Berry, health and wellness director for Kids in Motion. “Family Fit provides the families an opportunity like no other. Children and parents are able to sweat, work hard and experience success in fitness alongside one another. Parents are able to provide direct examples of hard work and exercise for their children.

“Throughout the program, everyone is faced with difficulty in completing a task, the parents are able to work and push through, and the kids are able to as well. It provides parents an opportunity to teach through action. The greatest benefit to Family Fit though is families spending time together; no more dropping kids off at child care or finding a babysitter to go get a workout in. We structure our workouts to make them effective for all fitness levels, and we keep them fun and engaging.”

The Y’s exergaming equipment “engages children in a way that traditional exercise does not,” Berry said, adding that the programs combine both traditional and exergaming equipment to make workouts both fun and effective.

According to Specht, Family Fit is a great way to get on track.

The Spechts also enjoyed the camaraderie with the other families, she said.

By week two, the families “were still a little awkward around each other, but we cheered each other on, and got through it,” Specht said. “And it only got better after that. The more we got to know each other, the more fun it was. The kids cheered each other on, we cheered each other’s kids on, and the instructors cheered us all on. It wasn’t always easy, but that was OK, and I think it meant a lot for my kids to see that we were in this as a team. We all struggled with different things, but we did it together and grew stronger because of it.

“As we grew together as a class and a family, we got faster, stronger and tried even harder. I stopped worrying about looking fat and out of shape and stared being proud of myself for the new things I could do each week.”

The nutrition changes have been beneficial as well, Specht said, adding that before she reduced sugars and carbs, she was on a bit of an energy roller-coaster throughout the day.

“I would eat something high in carbs, get energy for an hour or two, crash, and then crave them again,” she said. “My day was a roller coaster of insulin highs and lows, and I didn’t realize how bad it was until I stopped eating the high-carb foods.”

Though the first couple weeks were hard, she found that the nutrition changes gave her sustained energy that lasted throughout the day, and her mood stabilized.

“I don’t snap at my kids as much, I have a lot more patience, and my stress level has gone down,” she said. “Two, I felt healthier than I have in years. This winter I didn’t have to take allergy, cold or sinus medicine. In fact, since January, I’ve only taken medication for a headache, and that was only twice. It’s amazing how much of your life it impacted by your diet. My life has changed for the better — body, mind and soul.”

Specht said weight gain that had crept up during her first pregnancy 10 years ago is finally gone. At 37, Specht said she feels better than she did when she was 20. She also said she feels like a better mother.

“Instead of each of us having our own activities, we’ve found something we can all do together and we can do it anywhere,” she said. “We’ve switched our way of thinking. We look for ways to be active together, we cook together, and we have fun together because I’m not tired all the time.

“And finally, I am getting more and more comfortable in my own skin. I don’t compare myself to every other woman in the room anymore. I no longer need to be taller, skinnier, or have designer clothes to be a better me; I just need to be me.”

YMCA wellness programs

Here are some details about programs coming up for kids and families:

Family Fit: This 10-week session runs Aug. 12-Oct. 18, twice a week. Cost is $200 for an immediate family of four, $15 per additional member. A $40 optional MOVband Fitness Tracker is available as well.

Kid Fit: This 10-week session runs Aug.12-Oct. 18, twice a week. Cost is $50 for members and $75 for non-members. It includes one-year membership to the Phil Cline Family Y, 917 9th St. A $40 optional MOVband Fitness Tracker is available as well.

Fit 2 Run: (preparation for Fit Fest 2014): This six-week session runs from 4 to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Aug. 4-Sept. 14. It’s for people age 7 through adults. Group will meet in the Kids on Motion Room in the Phil Cline Family YMCA or the Ritter Park shelter. Class will focus on running technique, correct breathing and strength training. Cost is $40 for members and $65 for non-members. That includes the registration fee and T-shirt for the Fit Fest 5K on Sunday, Sept. 14.

Youth Strength Training: This six-week session is from 4 to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Aug. 4-Sept. 14, at the Phil Cline Family YMCA. It’s for those ages 12-17. Cost is $40 for members and $65 for non-members.

One-on-one strength/fitness training: These sessions are scheduled individually and are for people ages 8 to 17. Cost: $75 members for 12 sessions, or $150 for non-members. This program is geared to help participants meet and exceed personal goals established at the first scheduled appointment. Education and safety will always be a focal point in dealing with fitness equipment ad free weights. Scheduling will be based the participant’s personal schedule. The program is ongoing and you have your choice of coaches.

To enroll or for more information, call 304-697-7113.

Source: Herald-Dispatch

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