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Teen fitness taken to another level

June 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
When it comes to fitness, California teens are in trouble. Physical education programs are suffering while video games are on the rise. But there are two programs that are doing something about it and teens are actually looking forward to getting in shape."Before I wasn't much of an athlete. I was just a lazy person," said Abraham Gonzalez.

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Gonzalez is now 100 pounds lighter and realizes that fitness can pay off.

"I started to gain muscle and it even inspired me to try out for the cross country team and so now I'm on the cross country team," said Genesis Quiteno.

Gonzalez along with classmate Genesis Quiteno participates in a revolutionary program called Sound Body Sound Mind. It's an organization that establishes teen gyms into L.A. Unified and other high schools.

"Since 1999 we've actually grown to 50 schools," said Adrianna Johnson.

Teachers are trained to use the equipment and educate students. The program is funded through grants and fundraisers.

For 90 minutes, four days a week students work on muscular endurance, strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Currently, only 27 percent of 9th graders pass California's physical fitness standards. Bill Simon, who founded the program wants to make those numbers higher.

"The sooner you can get them working out and breaking a sweat, the more their going to develop good habits," said Simon.

"We've noticed an improvement on the students actual testing. They're more motivated and now they have a room that they can call their own and have more opportunities to increase their fitness levels," said Christine Berni-Ramos from the Elizabeth Learning Center.

But giving kids information isn't enough. Just like adults they need a little hands on help. Fourteen different studies show that active guidance helps kids stay with it a lot longer.

Another company that encourages teen fitness is 02 MAX, in Santa Monica. Owner Karen Jashinsky offers a gym for teens only. It provides a place for them to get fit their way.

"A lot of them really want role models or a mentor. They like the attention and the relationship building that you establish when you workout with a personal trainer," said Jashinsky.

Besides classes and training the facility has a loft so teens can hang out with their friends. They also offer internships for those with money issues.

"Every kid has different strengths and interest so if they can't afford the full membership, they help us out with different parts of the business," said Jashinsky.

 

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