What is your career background?
I started working as a part-time trainer in one of the first Nautilus gyms in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1977. Since then my roles have included sales director for Life Fitness, vice president of commercial sales for Nautilus, country club manager for Club Corporation of America in Dallas, Texas, and director of business development for Star Trac UK.
I am currently a vice president for Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness – a hospital-based health club company with operations in eight US states.
When did you come up with the idea of writing a book about children's fitness?
The idea came nearly four years after the true story of my daughter Abbie’s journey to get fit. Abbie was so excited about her own success story that she became sincerely determined to help other children get fit.
Why did Abbie need to get fit?
Unlike her younger brother, who plays numerous sports and is in perpetual motion, Abbie has always been very quiet, sedentary and had no interest in sports or games. Although never obese or even unhealthy, Abbie has always been a big girl. We mistakenly came to accept this disinterest as part of her personality. The thought of her being unfit never occurred to us as she was always happy and had no body image or health issues.
Our wake-up call came when she was nine years old and failed her basic fitness examination at school. The most disturbing result was her time in the mile run – over 12 minutes on a more than reasonable goal of 11 minutes. The exam also indicated a lack of upper body strength.
What did you do to address this?
Abbie and I set out on a quest to improve her fitness levels, with a 60-minute fitness walk at the core of our daily programme. We usually go to bed an hour earlier and get up an hour earlier…sometimes as early as 5am. That might sound extreme, but we actually look forward to these early morning walks together.
How did your programme benefit Abbie?
Abbie not only got fit, but also developed a genuine interest in fitness. Now, aged 13, she has become a very fit girl with a great attitude towards wellness. She wears a pedometer every day and rarely fails to achieve at least 10,000 steps per day, as recommended by most experts.
She's also taken a strong interest in nutrition, having read several books on the topic and she now uses an app on her iPhone to log her daily food consumption and calorie intake.
With increased energy levels came improved focus. She's now an honour roll student and just completed her seventh grade year with eight As and four Bs…something we couldn't have imagined four years ago.
What do you hope to achieve with the book?
We hope that Abbie Gets Fit will help educate parents on not only the need to get involved in their child’s fitness, but to appreciate the tremendous benefits of physical fitness. We also hope that the fitness industry will use this story as validation of the benefits of low intensity exercise for specialised markets and as an inspiration to contribute more towards those markets.