Chickaro Martin is pretty great. The certified physical trainer and founder of Project Fitness has taken a special interest in helping younger Americans improve their fitness through unique initiatives like Martin’s Instant Recess.
Chickaro and RTC recently teamed up to work with students at D.C. Prep School on ways they can incorporate the Metropolitan Branch Trail—which runs right by their playground—into their play time and daily routines.
As part of RTC’s month-long focus on American Heart Month this February, we caught up with Martin to talk more about kids, exercise and the importance of trails.
Describe your work involving kids and physical activity.
Working with young people through fitness is inspiring and humbling at the same time. Most kids pick up concepts, love to change things up and have fun. And since fitness is intended to be fun, kids are naturals when it comes to that…so I find that we both learn from the physical activity. It’s awesome to provide some structure to their natural fun, adding in workouts and progressive activities that improve their motor skills and coordination.
What response do you see from kids when they’re doing exercises and games with you?
I see their enjoyment in accomplishing small tasks that lead to more advance movements and exercises they didn’t think they could do. With each step, I see their confidence grow, and they show it by asking more questions and being less reluctant to speak.
What sort of groups are looking for someone like you to help young people be active?
Schools and after-school programs are often looking for new and innovative ways to engage and inspire young people to become more active—in ways that are sustainable and practical.
Do you think that most kids get enough physical activity in their day?
Some organizations are working hard toward making sure kids are participating in physical activity. While steps have been made, long-term, sustainable programs or outcomes have not been established.
What are some simple and easy everyday tips you could offer for parents and kids to help them be more active, fitter and healthier?
I would focus on the three core activities for total fitness—Cardio, Flexibility and Strength—each day. I would then identify two to three exercises that best embody each activity, and make them an everyday habit. I would practice at least 1 a day for 5 to 10 minutes, or combine them into a circuit as required.
What role do trails have in encouraging physical activity in young students?
Trails are both an outlet and a cost effective piece of infrastructure for youth to play and move about. Trails provide free space to play or engage in creative fun time. Additionally, they represent an alternative method to engage in otherwise traditional physical activity.
Learn more about Chickaro’s work and Project Fitness at www.p-fit.com.