From Left Field

    When one hears the words "boot camp," it conjures up thoughts of Marines crawling on their bellies in mud, running 15 miles, smashing into each other as a DI (drill instructor) screams and rants.
    Not so the boot camp held for youngsters at Anytime Fitness on 13th St. last summer. This boot camp provided several forms of exercise and, equally important,
some education on nutrition.
    It was such a hit that plans call for at least one, maybe two, kid boot camps in 2013. Plus, a couple of other programs already under way are direct outgrowths.
    "It ran for one week; we had 29 kids and it was fantastic," said Sara Rhymer who, along with her husband, Chris, owns Anytime Fitness. The youngsters ranged in age from 5 to 14.
    "We run an adult boot camp twice a week and several of our members asked about having somethjing for their kids," Rhymer explained. "So that's sort of how it came about. We decided, 'What the heck, let's try it.' It would be really good for the kids not in sportrs.
    "I wasn't sure what to expect; I guess i was hoping for around 20 kids. But we got 29. so I was really happy about that."
    The camp was held five days, one hour a day. The "lesson plan" involved a combinastion of many things. "Strength training, cardiovascular, flexibility, things like that," Rhymer said. "And a couple of days were educational; we talked about good nutrition after school; and another day was fast-food choices."
    Rhymer, a former physical education teacher, is extremely pleased with how what-the-heck-let's-try-it worked out. "I thought it was a huge success, yes. The kids really liked it. They were eager to come back the next day."
     Due to all the positive feedback, Rhymer said, Anytime Fitness members are now allowed to bring their kids into the gym to exercise every Saturday morning from 10 to noon.
    Another outgrowth: On the second Sunday of each month, a one-day boot camp is held as Rhymer leads a group of youngsters in a workout. "Last Sunday was the first real time we tried it and we got 17 —that's awesome," Rhymer explained.
    The success of the first boot camp last summer guarantees it will be back next summer. Maybe even two, Rhymer said.

Child obesity in America
    Programs like Rhymer's are more important than ever before. There are way too many statistics available to deny that child obesity in America is at epidemic levels. One-third of the nation's children are carrying too much weight.
    It's all been said so many times but few are listening. Overweight kids often have low self-esteem, which is made worse when they are unable to participate in normal activities such as sports or on the playground. Teen eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia develop in response to feelings of body inadequacy, psychologists tell us.
    Obese kids are often bullied, made fun of.
    And then there are all the diseases which are likely to be developed: Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.
    The causes are equally well-known, the top two being diet and lack of exercise, both of which were covered in Rhymer's boot camp.
    More and more people are beginning to recognized the depth of the problem and corrections are being attempted here and there. But a radical reversal of the trend is far, far off.