Thursday, November 29, 2007
Prescription for fitness
Brandy Cruthird started Fit Kidz to help make up for lost PE classes
Brandy Cruthird is an infectious person to be around. Whether she's doing the "Slide," pumping iron or practicing a few boxing moves, she makes you want to get up and get going. And that's her goal. A former college basketball player, Cruthird is now a fitness expert who runs her own gym, Body by Brandy, in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Geared for family fitness, the gym is open to all age groups. But Cruthird realized early on that a lot of kids who needed physical activity weren't getting it because their families couldn't afford a gym and PE classes in many schools were non-existent. That's why she started her Fit Kidz program

Along with Children's Hospital Boston and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, she set up a program where kids (mostly from the inner city) are sent to the gym with a doctor's prescription. They're usually children who are overweight or are on the verge of becoming obese. The youngsters visit the gym free of charge and they participate in all kinds of activities, such as dancing, rock climbing and weight training. The purpose is to get kids active and set them up for healthier lives as adults.

According to the CDC, approximately 17 percent of children in this country are obese. And more than a third of those kids are living in the inner cities. Since many urban schools don't have the money to afford PE classes, city kids are left with dilapidated sandlots and basketball courts for their exercise. And most of the times, these facilities are located in dangerous neighborhoods. Many of these children end up at home, sitting in front of a TV set or a video game. That's unfortunate, because most kids need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to stay fit.

Cruthird wants that to change and hopes she can expand her Fit Kidz program to other gyms across Massachusetts. She's psyched about the results, saying she's seen kids "lose weight...BMIs go down...When you see a child walk in and his head is down...now (his) head is up, shoulders are back and he's feeling good about himself...we can't buy that feel-good feeling."
Sounds like a positive start for a fit and productive future.

Do you know of inner city programs in your area that are helping kids? Tell us about them.

Programming note: For more on Brandy Cruthird and her Fit Kidz campaign, watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Fit Nation report on American Morning Friday 6a to 9a ET
Brandy sounds like just the type of person I'd love to send my patients to! As a pediatrician who practices in the Boston area, however, I was a bit surprised to learn about her gym from your post. But, that seems to be the way of the too many worthwhile fitness and obesity programs aimed at kids - lack of publicity undoes the cause and then the kids in need don't benefit.

Thanks for getting the word out!
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