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Beating Diabetes: Children and Type II Diabetes Mellitus

 This month, guest blogger Michelle Matte, CSCS has been discussing diabetes in recognition of American Diabetes Month.  We started with a general overview to increase awareness about diabetes.  We then focused on Managing Type I  and 2 Diabetes through Exercise  and Nutrition and Diabetes.  Today we will discuss Children and Type II Diabetes Mellitus. 


Facts About Kids and DM 2

Not many years ago, Type II Diabetes Mellitus, or DM 2, was known as adult-onset diabetes because it was rarely seen in children and young adults. But recent statistics reveal an alarming rise in the incidence of DM 2 in younger populations. According to the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD), the median age of the onset of Type II DM in children is 13.5 years. The disease is more prevalent in children of African, Native American, Mexican and South Asian descent. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 208,000 Americans under age 20 have diagnosed diabetes.

diabetes girl

At the Heart of Things

Lifestyle and dietary habits play a significant role in the early onset DM 2. Low levels of physical activity coupled with improper nutrition are key triggers. ISPAD recommends intensive lifestyle interventions, including physical activity that leads to improved exercise capacity, weight loss, decreased consumption of total calories  and calories from carbohydrates, and education for the entire family. Unless the family is on board, it is difficult for a child to make major lifestyle changes.

family jump for joy

Getting Physical

Physical activity is critical for treating and preventing DM 2 in children. Yet children with DM 2 are often overweight or obese, and may feel reluctant to engage in team sports or school sponsored activities. The National Diabetes Education Program, or NDEP, recommends a program that begins with walking, and strategies that increase activity throughout the day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. NDEP encourages a gradual increase in exercise duration and intensity, coupled with weight loss. The goal is for children to engage in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

diabetes child

Nutrition Strategies for Reversing DM 2

Making nutritional changes can be a challenge at first, because it may require letting go of habits that are a part of your regular daily routine. Eliminating sugary beverages, including juice and soda, is a good place to start. Encourage children to drink plenty of fresh water. Include several daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce the consumption of bread, pasta, rice and corn. Discourage snacking and junk food, and identify high risk scenarios, like snacking while watching TV or using the computer.



ISPAD Clinical Practice Consensus Guidelines 2014 Compendium: Type 2 diabetes in the child and adolescent.


American Diabetes Association: Statistics About Diabetes.


National Diabetes Education Program: Tips for Kids: How to Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes.




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Beating Diabetes: Nutrition is Key

 This month, guest blogger Michelle Matte, CSCS has been discussing diabetes in recognition of American Diabetes Month.  We started with a general overview to increase awareness about diabetes.  We then focused on Managing Type I  and 2 Diabetes through Exercise.  Today we will discuss Nutrition and Diabetes.

diabetes whole foods


You Are What You Eat

Every morsel of food you put in your mouth must be dealt with in some way by your body. Some of it is broken down in your digestive tract, where energy and nutrients are absorbed to be used for metabolism. Some of it passes right through, cleansing your colon if your diet is rich in whole fruits and vegetables, or possibly building up and becoming trapped if your diet is made up of meats, grains and processed chemical-laden food. An unbalanced diet devoid of natural whole food and full of sugar and refined grains can glut your system with glucose that exceeds your energy demands, leading to insulin resistance and Type II diabetes.

Your “Health” Food May Be Killing You

Many people traditionally eat a carbohydrate-based diet, and those populations are more vulnerable to diabetes. In the United States, Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans are more likely to develop Type II diabetes than Caucasian Americans. “Diet” foods can also boost your blood sugar. 100-calorie packs of snack food, packaged frozen “lean” dinners, and “low fat” foods tend to be high in carbohydrates. Eating these items may be sabotaging your efforts to lose weight and lower your blood sugar.

diabetes whole food 3

No Grain No Pain

You may think that cutting sugar from your diet is enough. But grain-based foods are ultimately broken down to glucose, which is released into your blood stream. Refined grains like white flour, rice and corn are broken down quickly, creating a spike of blood sugar. But even whole grains will eventually cause elevated glucose levels. While it may seem counterintuitive, ketogenic diets that are high in fat and low in grains and sugars can help you lose weight and improve your insulin sensitivity. Most ketogenic diets limit grains, sugars, legumes and milk.

diabetes whole food 2

The Whole Truth

For optimal health, a whole foods diet that consists mostly of fresh produce, along with fresh meats, seeds and nuts in moderation can help you manage both your blood sugar and your weight. A study of 1480 diabetic adults published in “Diabetic Care” revealed that the majority were overweight or obese, and consumed low amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. To improve your diet, avoid processed meats and canned fruits and vegetables. If a grocery item requires a label, it is not a whole food. Whole foods are found on the perimeter of your grocery store in the produce, meat and dairy sections. Drink plenty of fresh filtered water daily to keep your body’s systems running smoothly. To boost nutrition and add a bit of zest, add berries, cucumber slices or citrus wedges to your water.

To gain a deeper understanding about glucose metabolism and diabetes, consider enrolling in W.I.T.S. online courses.  Nutritional Concepts, Certified Personal Trainer Certification, Older Adult Fitness Foundations, and Exercise Program Design for Special Populations all offer insight into how the body uses sugar for energy.

– See more at:



Diabetes Care: Diet and Exercise Among Adults with Type II Diabetes.


Healthline: Type 2 Diabetes Statistics and Facts.


Healthline: How the Ketogenic Diet Works for Type 2 Diabetes.


Hawthorn University: Reversing Type II Diabetes by Implementing a Whole Food Diet & Lifestyle Changes

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Beating Diabetes: Type II Diabetes and Exercise

This month, guest blogger Michelle Matte, CSCS has been discussing diabetes in recognition of American Diabetes Month.  We started with a general overview to increase awareness about diabetes.  We then focused on Managing Type I Diabetes through Exercise.  Today, we extending that discussion to Type II diabetes. 

The Sad Truth

Type II Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a lifestyle disease. In the not-too-distant past, it was referred to as “Adult Onset Diabetes,” and rarely manifested in children and young adults. But today, Type II DM is escalating at an alarming pace in children, teens and adults of all ages. Research suggests that 35 percent of adults over age 20 are pre-diabetic, and that number rises to 50 percent of adults over age 65. When left untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and peripheral neuropathy leading to amputation of limbs.

diabetes exercise man

Exercise and Type II DM

Exercise is known to increase insulin sensitivity in pre-diabetics and to reverse the disease in confirmed diabetics. Yet a study published in “Diabetes Care” found that among adults with Type II DM, 31 percent engaged in no regular physical activity, and another 38 percent engaged in less than recommended levels of exercise. The study reported that most of the subjects were overweight, and the majority did not eat a healthy diet that included fresh fruits and vegetables.

Low Activity is Not Enough

Exercise intensity has a great deal to do with the body’s response to exercise. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), vigorous physical activity performed three to five times per week on a consistent basis will yield optimal results with regard to improving insulin sensitivity. Sporadic low intensity exercise coupled with a diet high in carbohydrates and processed foods will do little to reverse Type II DM.

diabetes exercise running

ExRx for Type II DM

To prevent or reverse Type II DM, the ACSM recommends resistance training on two to three non-consecutive days per week, performing exercises for all your major muscle groups. Do eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise, at a weight that fatigues your muscles within that range. Perform one to three sets of each exercise. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise like running or brisk walking on an incline performed for 30 minutes or longer is also recommended. Do aerobic exercise on at least five days per week. Exercise bouts can be broken up into 10 or 15 minute segments, provided they are done at an intensity that your perceive to be challenging.


To gain a deeper understanding about glucose metabolism and diabetes, consider enrolling in W.I.T.S. online courses.  Nutritional Concepts, Certified Personal Trainer Certification, Older Adult Fitness Foundations, and Exercise Program Design for Special Populations all offer insight into how the body uses sugar for energy.

– See more at:


Diabetes Care: Diet and Exercise Among Adults with Type II Diabetes.


American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand: Exercise and type 2 diabetes.


Dr. Mark Hyman: Five Steps to Reverse Type II Diabetes and Insulin Resistance.


Journal of Applied Physiology: Effects of Acute Exercise and Exercise Training on Insulin Resistance.


Healthline: Type 2 Diabetes Statistics and Facts.


American College of Sports Medicine: Exercise Can Help Tame Type 2 Diabetes, Say New Guidelines.


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Beating Diabetes: Managing Type I During Exercise

 Type I Diabetes Mellitus and Exercise

We introduced the topic of diabetes this month to recognize American Diabetes Month.

Type I Diabetes Mellitus (DM), once referred to as juvenile diabetes, is a genetic condition characterized by the inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin to facilitate the transport of glucose into the body’s cells to be used for energy production. At one time, those born with Type I DM were doomed to a premature death, often preceded by circulatory issues, disability and blindness. Today, thanks to a deeper understanding and advancements in treatment, Type I diabetics often live a full and normal life, so long as they carefully manage their condition. Exercise is an important part of maintaining optimal health, but for Type I diabetics, careful planning is an integral part of physical activity.

diabetes injection

Timing is Everything

Because Type I diabetics must inject insulin on a controlled schedule in order to manage glucose levels, exercise sessions must be coordinated with the timing of insulin injections to prevent a sudden drop in blood sugar. Exercise requires ample amounts of available glucose in the muscle cells and bloodstream to meet energy demands. Longer bouts of vigorous exercise, or high intensity exercise like heavy resistance training, can potentially cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar. Your diabetic client may need to decrease their insulin dose on days when they exercise vigorously. Exercise sessions should take place around the same time every day, to help manage insulin sensitivity.


Nutrition Matters

Your diabetic client should eat a high-carbohydrate snack about a half-hour before exercise. They may also need to periodically ingest an easily assimilated form of carbohydrate, like fruit juice or a sugary drink, during their exercise session. Your client should monitor their blood sugar levels, checking them before, during and after exercise to ensure levels remain stable. A post-exercise recovery drink like whole milk can help stabilize blood sugar because its balanced content of fat, protein and carbohydrate allows sugar to stabilize gradually. Your client should work closely with their health care provider to manage insulin and exercise.

blood sugar check

Learn More

To gain a deeper understanding about glucose metabolism and diabetes, consider enrolling in W.I.T.S. online courses.  Nutritional Concepts, Certified Personal Trainer Certification, Older Adult Fitness Foundations, and Exercise Program Design for Special Populations all offer insight into how the body uses sugar for energy.



University of California San Francisco; Diabetes Education Online.


Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation: Don’t Sweat It! Exercise and Type I Diabetes.


American Diabetes Association: Exercise and Type I Diabetes.


NHS: Complications Caused by Diabetes.


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Beating Diabetes: The Nature of the Beast

In honor of American Diabetes Month, this month’s blog posts will focus on Diabetes Mellitus.  W.I.T.S. welcomes guest blogger Michelle Matte. 

From Awareness to Understanding

Most of us are aware of diabetes as a common disease found in adults and children, and many of us know of a friend, co-worker or family member who has been diagnosed with the condition. Yet the cause of diabetes is rarely understood by the average individual. In November’s series of blogposts, we will attempt to break it down for you in terms you can grasp, in hopes of empowering you to help yourself and others combat this growing metabolic disorder.

Diabetes graphic text

Diabetes Discovered

Diabetes Mellitus, the proper name for what we commonly refer to as diabetes, is defined by an unhealthy amount of circulating blood sugar that can lead to a plethora of undesirable degenerative symptoms, culminating in kidney failure. Symptoms of DM were first described  3000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians, and the word “diabetes” was first used to describe the condition by Araetus of Cappodocia, who lived from 81-133 AD. It was not until 1675 that British physician Thomas Willis added the word mellitus, meaning “honey sweet”, when he discovered that the blood and urine of patients exhibiting the condition had a sweet flavor. (Kudos to Willis for doing the taste test!) Willis also noted a high incidence of depression in diabetes patients. One hundred years later, in 1776, Matthew Dobson, another British physician, confirmed that the blood and urine of diabetes sufferers did in fact contain elevated levels of sugar, explaining their sweetness.

Diabetes Basics

Diabetes Mellitus manifests itself under two distinct sets of circumstances, leading to the categorical distinction between Type I DM and Type II DM.

Type I diabetes is a congenital condition under which the pancreas either underproduces or fails to produce insulin sufficient to aid in the transport of glucose to the body’s cells, where it can be used for energy. Put simply, glucose is the end product of carbohydrate foods. You can think of insulin as the key that unlocks the door to the cells, allowing glucose to enter. Type I diabetics do not produce sufficient insulin to facilitate the process of glucose metabolism. Type I diabetics must inject insulin on a regular basis to help in that process.

Diabetes finger stick

Type II diabetes is a chronic condition that escalates over time. At one time referred to as “Adult Onset Diabetes”, Type II rarely manifested in children and younger adults, and was considered to be an age-related disorder. Today, Type II diabetes is seen with alarming frequency in children and young adults. Simply explained, Type II diabetes manifests when carbohydrates are consumed in amounts that exceed the cell’s requirements. When large doses of sugar are consumed, the brain sends a message to the pancreas to produce more insulin to transport glucose to the cells. However, the capacity of the cells to store glucose is limited. If the cells are already full to capacity, insulin cannot do its job. Over time, the cells become insulin resistant, and sugar remains in the circulatory system until it can be eliminated via the kidneys.


Insulin resistance is directly linked to physical inactivity and excess carbohydrate consumption. Continually over-consuming sugary processed foods and drinks is the catalyst for insulin resistance. Physical activity depletes cellular glucose stores, making room in the cells to store more, thus reducing insulin resistance.

Diabetes Digits

In 1997, an estimated 4.5 percent of the population in the United States had diabetes. By 2012, that number had escalated to 9.3 percent, affecting over 29 million Americans. It should not surprise you that these figures correlate with a rise in obesity over the same time period. That is because diabetes and obesity share common roots in their onset. Both are linked to sedentary lifestyle and imbalanced nutrition.

More to Come

We will delve deeper into understanding diabetes throughout the month of November. Topics will include Managing Type I Diabetes During Exercise, Reversing Insulin Resistance, Diabetes Programming Tips for Fitness Professionals, and more. We hope you will join us in fighting diabetes through education and behavioral wellness.



Stang J, Story M (eds) Guidelines for Adolescent Nutrition Services (2005).


American Diabetes Association: Statistics About Diabetes.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Maps in Trends in Diagnosed Diabetes and Obesity.


Saudi Medical Journal, April 2002: History of Diabetes Mellitus.


American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Basics.


Cleveland Clinic: Diabetes Basics.







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Fitness Professionals as Role Models: Be the Coach You Admired

Fitness Professionals as Role Models:  Be the Coach You Admired


The best coaches think outside the box and focus on moving forward.  Apply this statement to your favorite coach.  Did he or she do this?







Perhaps your favorite coach wasn’t a sports coach at all?  This could have been a mentor, a community leader, a family member, etc.  How do we as fitness professionals become a role model to our youth?  Are you thinking about our appearance, language, showing technical skills or form?  Yes, these are all details, but it goes deeper than this.  Think about your favorite coach again and why she/he inspired you?

I doubt a list of technicalities came to mind.  I bet the way you felt being coached by that person came back to you.  Yes, CONFIDENCE!

A mentor of mine once said, “You can never have too much confidence, your whole life people will try to bring you down so you need to store up as much as possible every chance you get!”  She was actually referring to her 6 year old grandson, but this made sense to me.

As a fitness professional, it is your job to build people up.  I think we could succeed in this by focusing on the character strengths listed below (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

  1. Wisdom and knowledge: It is our job to provide knowledge, inspire curiosity, creativity, love of learning, and perspective attitude.
  2. Courage: Emotional strength to accomplish goals in the face of opposition.  We need to inspire bravery, persistence, integrity, and vitality among our youth.  Let them know that most things in life are not handed to them.
  3. Humanity: Encourage a caring environment, with social intelligence, and kindness.  This will take them far in life.
  4. Justice: The civic strength demonstrated through citizenship, social responsibility, loyalty, and leadership. If you have ever done volunteer or leadership work, you know that it is active and requires strength and energy.  You also know how rewarding it is.  This is altruistic behavior.
  5. Temperance: Self-regulation, prudence, humility, forgiveness, and mercy. We should be helping youth understand that it is okay to be wrong, make mistakes, apologize, and practice restraint.  These situations may come up in problem-solving situations with others, or within the youth as an individual.
  6. Transcendence: Strength in one’s connection to the greater universe including a sense of gratitude, hope, playfulness, and faith.  Don’t you feel better when you genuinely give thanks and believe you are doing the right thing?!









Confidence.  We must lead by example.  These virtues have been shown (when practiced regularly) to create happiness in one’s life.  Chances are we naturally practice these 6 virtues.  It allows us to think outside the box, positively, and focus on moving forward.  Easier said than done, which is why our youth need coaching!


If the above psychology doesn’t “speak” to you, perhaps this will:

My favorite coach used to tell us to “aspire” to our best self.  If we were getting down, or falling apart as a team she would shout “integrity,” “pride,” or “dig deep.”  Somehow, we all knew what this meant.  She did this in both practice and game settings.  She was consistent.  This had nothing to do with technicalities’ of our sport or activity… But it built our confidence and mental fortitude on a daily basis.  Doesn’t exercise do that too?!

There are several types of coaching styles.  Educate yourself through our Life Fitness Coach Certification.  Each person may need a different coaching style.  This, too, is our job to figure out.

Give our youth a foundation to fall back on by providing habits for positive coaching, health and wellness education, knowledge of resources, programs in schools, communities, and fitness centers.  Give them the tools and confidence to move forward as adults and we will continue to fight the childhood obesity epidemic!

Thank You for joining me this month!


Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT


  1. Gavin and Mcbrearty; Lifestyle Wellness Coaching, Human Kinetics 2013.



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Adopting Lifelong Habits

Adopting Lifelong Habits

“When I Was Young We Walked Uphill Both Ways!”

I am from upstate New York, so this statement was fairly believable when my grandfather (dressed in a button down, khakis, loafers, cane, and pipe) used to say it.  Think back to the stories your family has told you…









Now, how has your life changed from the rise of electronics and cable (1979)?  This was before we started counting calories, or needed to, and probably a sad reflection for scientists who feel we have missed opportunities measuring caloric expenditure.  We did not have today’s technology to compare calories burned in the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s with today’s youth.  When I mention caloric expenditure, I am talking about calories used for walking/biking to school, the store, or friend’s houses.  Back before we used cars or public transportation to do most chores.

Are you more inactive today than 30 years ago?  Now consider the inactivity of other people’s lives: your parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, and kids.  Are there people in your life who have adopted lifelong exercise/activity habits?  What exercises do they do, and what do you do?  Maybe we need to define lifelong exercise habits?

How Can Fitness Professionals Help?

old man music














Fitness Professionals are problem solvers.  We give people the tools and support to follow through with their goals, but ultimately, the individual determines the result.  The better exercise habits people have as youth, the healthier their adult lifestyle will be.  Bottom line, the exercise should be every day and at least 30 minutes.  But what are lifestyle sports?

sit upstretch

When I think about lifelong exercise habits, I think back to my senior year in P.E. class where we learned lifestyle sports like cross country skiing, golf, bowling, horseback riding, hiking, etc.  I have friends who experienced similar P.E. programs and seem to have continued skiing, bowling, playing tennis, or golf.  For the most part, these are low impact and social sports.  They are also sports that are found in the business world.  We should not depend on P.E. programs to promote this, but here is what we can do:

Provide Tools:

  1. Introduce youth to recreational activities.  Have your fitness center host a youth night once a month that includes a different lifestyle sport.
  2. Show them how to use the equipment, use proper form and etiquette.  Print a 1 page handout on form for each participant and move around the group giving each individual attention.

Provide Support/Coach:

  1. Support their goals.  Ask them which lifestyle sport they have enjoyed most.  Suggest they get a group of friends together on the weekends to partake in that particular activity.
  2. Check-in on their progress.  Ask them if they have been repeating the activity.
  3. Coach Etiquette.  Etiquette will come in handy if they become part of the business world.  They may not be an all-star football player, but knowing how to bowl or golf could help them climb the fiscal ladder and they should know that!

Provide Opportunity:

  1. If they prefer a particular night, or want to practice technique, repeat it.  Perhaps even make it a “Thursday” night summer club like adults have!

Provide Periodization:

  1. Drills – Youth have short attention spans.  Drills for any activity should not go beyond 7 – 10 minutes.  That means you have time for 4 drills on form, and 20 minutes or more of scrimmage/play/participating in an activity.
  2. Seasons- Cycle the lifestyle activity with the seasons.  Our bodies require periodization so we do not suffer from overuse injuries.  This suggestion is for athletes and recreational athletes alike.  It makes the body stronger to experience different planes of motion and skillsets.

When it comes to lifestyle sports, talk to kids.  If they do not like traditional team sports, find something else that suits their personality.  Then, teach them how to incorporate it into their life.  Talk about their future, and how to incorporate it into college or trade school and after.  It’s your job and they will probably be more likely to take these suggestions from you than their parents (wink)!

Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT


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“If You Build It, He (They) Will Come.”

If You Build It, He (They) Will Come.

A famous line from the movie Field of Dreams.  If you are unfamiliar with it, you are missing out:

The last scenes from the movie are the best, but I won’t spoil it.  Beneath one of the greatest sports movies is a great life lesson:  believe in your dreams.  I think it particularly relates to those of us growing our own business.  As fitness professionals, we need to be on our toes, constantly thinking of innovative ways to get people to move.

They Will Move!

Wouldn’t you like to get parents and children to move?  It is a family unit after all, and studies show that people are more successful at weight loss if their support system is “on board!”  Does your facility have any personal training programs for youth and parents?  Had you ever considered this idea?

Suggestion:  If you have an idea, plan it out, present it to your club manager, take initiative, and see if it takes off.  Here’s your opportunity.  Grab a pen and paper.  Think of some programs you do not offer.  You have 30 seconds to write down some class names, GO!

Personal Training for Youth & Parents

Time is up!  What did you come up with?  Mommy & Me (for babies), Boot Camp Buddies, Teen Torcher, Family Fitness, etc.  Any of these can become small group training classes (6 – 8 people) or a fitness class (8+ people).  If it takes off, you will gain at least one parent and one child per class, and extra revenue!

There are many formats to teach these classes.  Consider the following styles when creating your classroom:

  1. Personal Training – Any format goes, but one-on-one attention is best. This works great for small group training sessions.
  2. Partner Training – Maybe the family wants to work out in a more personal environment. Offer parent/youth partner sessions at a special rate!  If you have a private area of the gym, use it!
  3. Circuit Training – This is a timed format that could include Tabata style training. It could also include staying at one station for 1 minute, followed by 30 seconds rest. This is great for medium size classes, but can be harder to manage in larger groups.  Consider drawing exercises on construction paper at each station.
  4. Boot Camp – Every person will participate in exercises at the same time, or in teams. It could also include newer exercises that are “flashier” like kettle bells, tire-flipping, or ropes.
  5. Sports Conditioning – These types of classes include sports movement with sports props (ladders, hurdles, tires, kettles, weights) and incorporate agility, power, balance, as well as many other forms of functional training. You may even provide a scrimmage at the end of this class.  Parents vs. Youth, anyone?!
  6. Teacher Lead Choreographed Instruction – Most often thought of as a group exercise class, with you providing a choreographed or free-style workout, to the beat of the music.
  7. Student Lead Instruction – How about making it more interactive where the youth get to learn a little about fitness! Have youth or parents who want to lead an exercise do so, and the other participants can choose what body part you are working.

No matter which style you choose, remember to provide an appropriate warm-up (dynamic in nature), cardiovascular and strength components, and a proper cool-down (3-5 minutes), followed by some static stretches during the recovery!

Setting Prices & Schedule:

So you have your idea, now it is time to figure out rates and schedule.  Typically price depends on the amount of people you are training per hour.  The more people participating, the cheaper you can offer your classes.  Partner training and small group training rates should almost match personal training rates.  Feel free to offer a small discount for first time sign ups to get people through the door (5-15%).  Offering a greater deal only decreases the value of the other services you offer.  As for schedule, remember that you are working with students.  After school (2:30pm – 7pm) or weekends are the best time to offer these types of sessions!

What are you waiting for?  You determine your clientele.  Be W.I.T.S., be innovative!

Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT



  1. movie: Field of Dreams, 1989.
  2. Carol Kennedy-Armbruster and Mary M. Yoke, Methods of Group Exercise Instruction, 3rd Ed., Human Kinetics, 2014. Chapter 4.


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Recess, Sports, & Recreation: Part of the Solution?

Americans have agreed that childhood and youth obesity is an epidemic.  We have done a great job identifying the problem since the early 2000’s and coming up with funding for solutions since 2008.  Stay on task and spread the awareness of available solutions with the ideas below.


School Programs

Fact: Twenty-three minutes of recess, that is the National average among elementary school children.  Considering that other blogs have touched on this, I will be brief.  For some students, this twenty-three minutes includes lunch.  The lack of movement has encouraged our teachers to be more creative in the classroom providing movement breaks.  Thank you teachers!

Though I do believe the movement breaks slightly increase our children’s ability to focus, we need to remember that this does not meet the necessary 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular movement needed to prevent obesity and to enhance children’s mental capacity.

Funding:  Yes.  The decreased funding for physical education is a problem, but recess is cheaper.  Are your schools fighting for the cheaper option?  We need to start somewhere, and I don’t know about you, but I loved recess!  Guess what?!  It’s virtually free…so are grants:

We need to encourage parents to get longer recess times on the ballot, and recess every day, so children can meet the basic daily requirements for proper growth and development including motor skills and mental health.

Let’s not forget that recess encourages problem solving, resolving conflict, and other important skills.  An extra thanks to those teachers who provide a “guided” or “structured” recess that encourages these life-skills.  An extra-extra thanks to the teachers who get in there and move because they know the kids will be more likely to play if they show them how!  Seriously folks, talk to your teacher friends today and learn some of these realities!



Sports Teams & Community Recreation Programs

The funding for school programs tends to be included in our taxes.  Sports & Community programs tend to come out of pocket; though, there are grant resources (click the link above) that can be applied to afterschool and community programs.

The way I see it, we have a couple issues here: kids who want to play and kids who don’t.  Youth on sports teams tend to want to play.  They also tend to be fit and have more income to pay for extracurricular activities.  A lot of communities are better at recognizing that all youth should have equal opportunity for playing time.

This means the least fit kid should see as much playing time as the most fit kid, typically until Junior Varsity Sports.  Is this happening in your community?  Is there funding for kids who would like to play and do not have the money?  How about starting a sports scholarship for different age groups, male and female, to offer more opportunity for lower income families to have their children in athletics?  Your fitness center has the ability to take donations from members to create this scholarship.  You have the power to help!


What about Youth Who Don’t Like Team Sports?

I think you might be able to predict what I am going to say.  Music and arts are physical.  You are right, they may not meet the 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular health, but they very well could meet the 20-30 minutes of strength, coordination, agility, and motor skill requirements that we are also lacking.  Ask these kids what type of “play” they like.

You could have several 30 minute to 1 hour programs a month:  freeze tag, hikes, walk your dog day, kayaking, cycling, gardening, music lessons, voice lessons, acting classes, art, sculpting, photography, etc.  The list can go on and on.  How about a 24 hour “lock-in.”  You could schedule several games, events, fundraiser activities like a dance-a-thon or spin-a-thon!  Is your gym running any recreation programs like this?  Is there grant money for things like this in your community?

I hope your wheels are turning!  Get creative and incorporate some of these ideas into your facility by the new year!



Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT






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How do Socioeconomic Issues Impact the Health of Our Youth?

Socioeconomic Issues:  Resources Revealed


It’s safe to say that every area has different socioeconomic issues that impact childhood obesity.  But it’s also safe to say that we are working to change this.  What would your community say the largest socioeconomic issues are?  Money, location, school lunches, unsafe communities that minimize children’s activity, grocery stores that are second rate, lack of local farmers, or lack of public transportation to better resources?  Can you think of any others?  Take a look at this CDC video about the obesity epidemic for a brief visual on this topic:

Did you know Pediatricians are pushing for more fruits and vegetables and advocating for better physical education programs? That the government is working to improve infrastructure for safe communities and greater activity?  They have also supported bringing local farmer’s markets into the communities and provided grant money to help with these issues.  We have support, but we are also responsible for educating our communities about this support.

How Can You Help?

Start by changing the conversation from a negative tone to a positive one.

You need to:

  • Recognize the issue the parent, teacher, or community is bringing to your attention.
  • Have a list of resources at your fingertip or take their information and follow up with a list of resources.

These two simple steps coach the community to recognize that things are starting to change, that you and your business can be used as a resource, and the future of our children CAN be improved.  Who knows, maybe you can even host a monthly meeting opening the communities eyes to these resources!

What Resources?

Am I pushing  Have you taken a look yet?  This is HOW you provide resources so listen up!  Several resources are revealed in the lower left hand corner.  All it takes is one click.


The Let’s Move Campaign:

I have already mentioned this program in previous posts, so I’d like to point out this link to eating on a budget. You can print this out for the community along with other PDFs on this site:

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food:


This program encourages the growth of local farms.  Fun fact: since 2008 local farmer’s markets have increased by 67 percent!  Sounds like this initiative might be working?!  This creates jobs, cultivates healthy eating habits, expands access to locally grown fresh foods, and helps our environment.  You can find your local farmers here.  There is so much information on this site, you must take a look!

USDA People’s Garden:

This initiative encourages people to start gardens at their schools, in their communities, volunteer at farms, and find gardens in their community.  Sounds like a resource to me.  Oh, did I mention that as of May 14, 2014 this initiative has donated 3.8 million pounds of produce to those that need it most?  Yup, 3.8 MILLION pounds of produce!

Are you inspired?

Just a few facts to spark your interest in these websites.  Remember, small steps lead toward leaps in fighting this epidemic.  What are you waiting for?  Find out about planting a garden at your school, or locate your local farm, or Farmer’s Market today!


Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT