How Cardio Kool Kids Fights Childhood Obesity in Atlanta and Beyond

Today’s kids are less physically active than previous generations. They’re more likely to be overweight and are at higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and cardiovascular disease. One Atlanta mom has made it her business to do something about that by creating Cardio Kool Kids, an innovative (and fun!) fitness and hip-hop program for kids ages 3 to 12. We got in the exercise zone with CKK founder and ACE-certified fitness instructor Amy Head for this week’s Friday Five.

Amy Headshot

Cardio Kool Kids founder Amy Head

Y’all do a lot of activities in your program – kickboxing, sports drills, dance, and even journaling. Is there any one activity all the kids love?

The kids seem to love the strength training because they get to use real weights. They also get to keep the weights at the end of the program. The other favorite tends to be hip-hop. The instructors and I choreograph the routines, but we leave room in the choreography for the kids to make up moves. They love creating dance steps or poses, and you can see their pride in their smiles!

TV, video games, computers, phones, tablets — little ones (and, let’s be honest, adults too) are spending more and more of time staring at a screen, which is no good from a fitness perspective. On the other hand, a lot of those apps, games, and shows can be educational! What do you think? Are electronic devices good for kids?

This is definitely a health and wellness issue. This generation of kids is growing up with screens of all kinds. The reality is that there’s no way to keep kids away from them, but I think we can continue to teach concepts like moderation and intention in a fun and interactive way. These are some of the same concepts that underscore our journal topics in Cardio Kool Kids. The more kids know and understand how their health works and how to create health in the different areas of their lives, the better they become at being intentional in their choices and choosing moderation. The electronic devices can remain but they don’t have to take over.

It’s cold outside. How can Mom and Dad keep the kids moving when the weather isn’t the greatest?

kickboxingWhen the weather isn’t great, that is an awesome opportunity for some creative fitness! You can go old school with some charades, Twister, Simon says, hide and seek, or rounds of freeze dance. Or you can let the creative juices flow with a little family boot camp using the stairs, floor, couch, and canned goods for weights. You can even get some fitness and chores done at the same time: Set a timer for two minutes and see who is the first one to clean up the clutter, put all of the shoes in the closet, or put away clean clothes from the laundry room. Kids love the fast pace and the competition, especially when Mom and Dad get in on the fun!

Physical activity can be fun, but eating your veggies? Not so much. How can you motivate the kids to pick broccoli over French fries? Any advice that’ll help parents at the dinner table?

What we often find is that knowledge is motivation. When a child understands the WHY behind healthy choices, and that it doesn’t just come down to the parent saying, “because I said so,” sometimes that is enough to help move them toward more willingness when it comes to eating those veggies. The example that we set as parents is crucial too. Kids will be more likely to follow what we do over what we say. So if we are not huge broccoli lovers either, it’s gonna be hard to convince our kids that they should be. One piece of advice: Some is better than none. Rather than struggling to get our kids to clean their plates, we can encourage them to eat at least some of the veggies with us. Once the pressure is off and the kids feel like they have some power in the process, they are more likely to participate in the process of healthy eating!

Cardio Kool Kids has expanded into multiple locations around Atlanta. That’s a lot of active little ones. Any big plans for 2015?

One of our big accomplishments for 2014 was that we expanded our reach beyond Atlanta into New York City! So, for 2015, we plan to get another city on the map as well as expand to 15 local locations this fall!

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