Students at New Market Elementary School stretched, raced and crawled their way to a fitter lifestyle last week.
About 50 students participated in a 30-minute workout after school on Friday in the school’s gym that included pushups, wheelbarrow races and belly crawls.
The session was the third in a six-week Fit Fridays program introduced at the school by Families Plus, a nonprofit group that provides programs to enrich the lives of individuals, families and children in Frederick County.
The free program aims to encourage students from kindergarten through fifth grade to be physically active by having them participate in various age-appropriate activities designed to promote a love of exercise, according to Kim Ragan, head of the program and the mother of two students at the school.
“We want to get their heart rates up and get them moving, but we try to make it fun [too],” she said. “It’s just about keeping them active.”
The program, which started at the school on Nov. 9, has since become a hit, Ragan said. It will run each Friday through Dec. 21, with each session being directed by two certified fitness instructors.
“For the first session we had about 40 kids [sign up] in four hours,” she said.
Emily Liston, 37, of New Market said the program allows students to focus on fitness as a priority in their lives.
“There’s so many distractions to stop them from being active,” she said. “So, anything to keep them moving is good, especially in the winter months.... It’s mostly so they can use their bodies.”
Liston, a group fitness instructor at Health Unlimited in Mount Airy and a parent of a student at the school, said she decided to participate in the program after being approached by Ragan at her gym.
Jennifer Mitchell, 40, of New Market, whose daughter Alexandra, 7, participanted in the Friday session, said that learning the importance of being active isn’t the only thing students are learning from the new program.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to get some exercise and also to learn to get along and socialize, to learn teamwork,” she said. “In school they have to do [this stuff] but here they want to do it.”
Riley Glynn, 9, a fourth grader at the school, said his favorite part of the program is getting to spend more time with his friends.
“It’s fun to play with people,” Riley said. “It’s like [physical education] after school but it really helps you.”
“You learn how to make yourself stronger,” said Megan Hummel, 7, a first grader.
Ragan said she plans to expand the program to include other schools in the county, but she has been having trouble finding fitness instructors to participate.
“As soon as I can get instructors to teach [we’ll expand],” she said.
Those interested in signing their children up for the New Market program can do so by contacting Ragan at 301-694-9002 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.