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Y-Fit Kids Bootcamp teaches exercise, healthy living

Suzy Wamsley has three main rules for the kids that attend her fitness class twice a week at the Cass County Family YMCA.

No whining, don’t sit down and stop eating sugar.

“And they really embrace it,” she said smiling.

Wamsley thought up the idea for the Y-Fit Kids Bootcamp about four years ago, and she’s been the instructor ever since.

“Kids are not fit, and kids are not learning to be fit,” she said, “and they don’t really have any access to learn how to be healthy. So I just decided I wanted to start something, and the Y was gracious enough to let me use them as my umbrella.”

The boot camp is divided up into two different age brackets and meets twice a week until the first week in February, Wamsley said.

So for six weeks, the boot camp participants dive into physical fitness. Every session is complete with a mile-long run as well as core, strength and interval training. Whether it’s jumping jacks, squats, push-ups or lifting weights, the goal is to just keep moving, Wamsley said.

“It’s just a great way to get people to exercise,” she said. “Even people who want to exercise don’t know how, so that’s my goal. My mission is to help kids become fit.”

And she knows that being fit and healthy doesn’t just come from exercise. That’s why at the end of every class session, Wamsley gives the kids a healthy snack of fruits and vegetables.

“If you’re going to teach kids how to be fit, you also have to teach them how to eat healthy because they go hand in hand,” she said.

That means no sugary foods like candy and soda and no salty foods like french fries for the entire time boot camp is in session, Wamsley said.

“They all make a commitment that that’s what they’re going to do, and they really do try,” she said. “I don’t expect them to follow it to a T, but I promise you these kids really love doing it.”

Wamsley said she understands that not every child continues the boot camp regimen after the last session has ended, but she hopes she can at least provide some of the tools needed for healthy living because she said she’s well aware of the numbers.

According to the newest statistics from the State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, a project of non-profit organizations Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 33.9 percent of Hoosier children ages 10 to 17 were overweight or obese in 2016. That places Indiana sixth in the nation in that category.

Those numbers, though potentially scary, just push Wamsley even harder to connect with the children she works with throughout the boot camp.

And she’s not just providing encouragement to the participants. She wants parents and other family members to hear her message too.

“If parents aren’t exercising, kids aren’t exercising,” she said. “It’s just how it goes. So if you encourage your kids to exercise, they’ll do it. And the greatest gift that you can give a child in life that will last them a lifetime is to be fit. So if you’re not going to do it, then let someone else do it for you.”

Reach Kim Dunlap at or 574-732-5150.

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