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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Fitness instructor Tobe Taylor leads a workout session filmed on facebook live for residents of Hamilton County who are unable to go to the gym due to policies to combat coronavirus at T2 fitness on Thursday, April 30, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

With school out until at least this fall, many students are stuck at home, socially distancing with parents who are probably juggling working from home and keeping the kids learning and engaged.

Some students might end up spending hours in front of the computer, doing school work or playing games, but physical fitness is as important now as ever, and one group of community members is working to keep kids active while they're stuck at home.

LaDarius Price, community outreach manager for Cempa Community Care, fitness trainer Tobe Taylor and local DJ Keenan Daniels have been hosting virtual workout sessions geared toward kids.

The group has long hosted community-based fitness classes and led workout sessions for students in elementary schools across Hamilton County, but as the coronavirus pandemic closed schools and parks, they had to shift online.

"For a lot of [students], they are confined to their homes during this time. They don't have an outlet for recess," Price said. "We want this to be their recess."

On April 22, Hamilton County Schools partnered with the group and livestreamed a workout session during the district's new "Whole Child Wednesday" initiative on Facebook.

While Daniels — known by his stage name, The MillionDollaMan — played family friendly songs like Pharrell Williams' "Happy," Taylor and the Marvel superhero Iron Man clapped along and led a fitness exercise.

"I see you kids, you're doing awesome," Taylor pointed at the camera while Outkast's "Hey Ya!" played later in the video. "You got this today."

"We know that at this time everybody is inside the house, we just trying to provide something for the kids to have some type of normalcy and get kids moving and grooving," Taylor later told the Times Free Press.

Photo Gallery

Virtual 'jam sessions' for kids

MORE INFORMATION

— Check out social and emotional resources from Hamilton County Schools, including Tobe Taylor’s Jam Sessions, online on the HCDE SEL YouTube channel or visit www.hcde.org/hcs-continued-learning/resources_for_families.

 

Taylor owns T2 Fitness off Highway 58, and he has taught fitness classes for more than 10 years. He said it can be easier than you might think to get kids thinking about fitness.

He said the most important thing is to get kids up, off the couch and away from screens — the television screen, the computer screen, the phone screen. If possible, get outside in the sunshine, he said.

"It's pretty simple as far as working with children," Taylor said. "If it's at all possible you can go outside, even bouncing a ball back and forth, playing tag back and forth, moving their body so they can get some type of cardiovascular activity, some strength training."

He also said parents should be paying attention to what their children — and they themselves — are eating while at home.

"Focus on lessening the sweets, lessening the soft drinks," Taylor recommends.

Research has shown that physical activity and fitness have an impact on a child's academic performance and even cognitive abilities. Multiple health benefits accrue for children who participate in at least 60 minutes a day of recommended physical activity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills and attitudes and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention as well as improved classroom behavior," according to a 2017 CDC report.

Educators are already concerned about the impact long-term school closures will have on student learning and worry about them going back to the classroom behind.

While they are stuck at home, it's a good time to try to continue learning and stay active, many recommend.

For Price, he is also focused on reaching minority students and communities.

"I'm focused on keying in on minorities," he said. "For a lot of minorities, there are so many health and fitness disparities, and one of them is lack of physical education, whether it be them not able to afford a gym membership. a lot of it starts with our kids."

Price said he hopes that kids might inspire their parents to get up and engage in the workouts with them. Fitness isn't just about weight loss, he and Taylor both remind people. It's about getting up and getting active.

"I want it to be a lifestyle for a lot of our kids," Price said.

Contact Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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