Tom: You have a concern about youth fitness and obesity rates. You actually wrote an excellent book about getting kids off their butts and moving. What drove you to address these issues?
Fred: My co-author, Matt Brzycki, and I each have a child and when we initiated the book, our kids were approaching their teens. As parents and fitness folks, we felt a personal and professional obligation to bring more attention to improving kids’ health and fitness. We recognized that the ever-growing issues of child obesity, diabetes, and depression were starting to run rampant with today’s youth and we felt compelled to write our book.
We also recognized that parents, coaches, trainers, and schools are all involved in helping get kids on the right path, so we directed a lot of our information towards both the kids and those guiding them. In our research we found matters worse than we had expected, showing kids with disease markers at a very young age. School systems are cutting physical education and today there is an overwhelming need to be connected to the electronic world, which has contributed greatly to ever-increasing sedentary lifestyles.
It’s interesting that more schools have cut back on physical education classes, failing to realize that not only are they contributing negatively to a child’s level of fitness, but they are hindering the improvement of learning skills. Dr. John Ratey wrote an interesting book entitled: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain showing how exercise (specifically regarding aerobic activity) helped improve cognitive functions and learning.
Matt and I also created a certification program, primarily for teachers, coaches, and trainers. Interestingly enough, we had a school in Canada that used our certification program as a standardized test for their physical education and health classes with great success.