Wednesday, December 17, 2008

LifePlex Health Club Loads Of Fun For Kids

“Elise Israel's three children have enjoyed everything they've ever done at LifePlex Health Club. The Suffern resident's kids, ages 12-14, have tried tennis, swimming, fitness classes and wall climbing there. So when her oldest son had his Bar Mitzvah, the Israels held the party there. ‘It was such the only party of its kind,’ Israel said. ‘It's a fabulous resource in the middle of Rockland. The place is so kid-focused.’ While LifePlex has tennis courts, an indoor pool, indoor track, a Pilates studio, four aerobic studios and three fitness centers, its biggest attraction for kids is a 10,000-square-foot fitness and wellness center, which features rock climbing, a zip line, virtual-reality exercises, Dance Dance Revolution, a basketball/volleyball court and an interactive sports wall. ‘They are really centered on keeping kids fit, and rotating them through different things to make it fun, exciting and interesting,’ Israel said. ‘As a family in Rockland County, I feel so lucky to have it in our backyard.’ The kids' center is about 15 months old, and operating partner Steve Rauch said it fills a real need nowadays. ‘You can't just make your own playdate or run around the neighborhood. Everything's structured,’ Rauch said. ‘They don't come home from school, throw the bag on the counter, grab two Chips Ahoy and a glass of milk and then go out in the neighborhood and your mother has to come looking for you four hours later, like I grew up. Now everything's planned. These kids are used to being moved from here to there. When we designed, we left a lot of open space.’ Rauch also introduced some technology into the fitness room, but the main emphasis is still on old-fashioned activities such as climbing. ‘I understand there's an overlap, but technology should be technology and fitness should be fitness,’ Rauch said. ‘It's not the 1950s. But kids still like to run, grab, sweat, create themselves, make things, do things, use their own two hands.’ There is also a ball pit, climbing station and video-game bikes for children 6 and under. LifePlex, part of the Sport-O-Rama complex on College Road in Monsey, has always focused on youth fitness. They have tennis lessons for kids as young as 3, ‘Mommy and me’ swim lessons for kids as young as 6 months, and kids night out, which just celebrated its 11th anniversary and allows parents to drop their kids off for the night. The club is also unique in that it offers single-gender programs to service the area's large Orthodox Jewish population. There are fully equipped men- and women-only gyms, single-sex swim sessions and a large percentage of classes solely for women, including dance, gymnastics and martial arts on Sunday nights. ‘There is no other place in the health-club industry that demonstrates sensitivity to the cultural needs of this community,’ Rauch said. ‘It's social and fitness for the kids,’ Michie said. ‘It's nice that they offer so much in one place.’”

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