photo courtesy of Jenn Thompson

Health, Fitness, & Education with Jenn Thompson

February 15, 2022

by katie jones backer

February is American Heart Month, and who better to talk about a healthy heart - and the positive connection between exercise and education - than Jenn Thompson from Granite Health & Fitness?

Jenn studied Exercise Science at the University of Montana, has been a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer for 18 years, and an Athletics & Fitness Association of American Fitness Instructor for 19 years, and has several specialty certifications including Stroller Strides, Youth Fitness, Weight Management, Nutrition, and Les Mills Advanced. In brief, Jenn is an encouraging and qualified voice in our community, and she’s here to share a few tips with us on the benefits of getting our kids (and selves!) moving.

According to The Benefits of Physical Activity and Exercise in the Classroom ( (and the CDC), Physical activity also leads to better students. When they routinely exercise, the CDC reports that students in the classroom...

  • Improve concentration and ability to stay on-task in the classroom
  • Reduce disruptive behavior, such as fidgeting
  • Improve their motivation and engagement in the learning process
  • Improve their academic performance, getting higher grades and test scores.

Jenn was all too thrilled to share on this subject, being a mom herself. “Fitness has immense benefits for kids. The pandemic and the addition of more screen time has brought on some alarming statistics: Childhood obesity has gone up 3% just in the last two years. Kids are struggling with anxiety and depression more than ever before. Sleep quality has decreased for kids over the past few years.” She continued, “Fitness has been shown to help improve these areas, but also begins to set up healthy habits. When kids learn to enjoy being active early in life, it's more likely that they will stay active as they grow up.” And that’s what we want, right? We know, as adults, that we feel and work better when we workout, therefore it only makes sense that we would encourage our kids to do the same.

photo courtesy of Jenn Thompson

Tips from Jenn:

  • Don't make it complicated. If you are hoping to help your child improve their healthy habits, start small. (Challenge them to eat one extra serving of veggies each day with you. Pick one they like, and maybe gradually ask them to try different ones. Be proud of their efforts.)
  • Be active with them. If your kiddo (or you!) has not been active, start small and make it fun! It doesn't have to be painful or intense—just start easy and do your best to make it enjoyable. (Maybe break it up during the day and do a few 10-15 minute bursts of exercise rather than one long exercise session. But be consistent with it. Make it a habit to do it every day. Consistency before intensity—work on creating the habit first!)
  • Look for activities they can sign up to try. There are usually lots of different activities available to kids. Try a few to see if they gravitate towards certain activities. (Maybe they don't love football, but they really enjoy swimming. Check out activities your community has to offer!)
  • Need guidance? Seek it out! There are many trainers certified in Youth Fitness specializations. If you feel overwhelmed with where to start, set up an orientation or a meeting with one of them. (Your child doesn't have to be an athlete to get benefits from training. Trainers can provide sound programming for their growing and developing bodies and make fitness fun for them.)
  • Avoid making exercise a punishment and try to use positive language around it. Praise their efforts.
  • [One final point], when we get to spend time with others who have similar goals, it can help drive us and motivate us to stick with it. It has also been proven that when you exercise with others, your perceived exertion (or how hard you think you are working) is lower, and that is likely due to enjoyment.

Group fitness classes are very dear to Jenn’s heart, and she leads many wonderful classes at Granite. Whether a child or an adult, there is something powerful about working out in a group or being on a team. “What I personally love MOST about group fitness or activities that foster relationships between participants, is that it creates friendships,” Jenn told, continuing, “I have seen so many friendships develop in the gym or online fitness challenges, just like in sports. When you're working together for a common or shared goal, it brings people together and creates bonds. That is pretty special!”

If you would like to try out a group class, Granite has a fun option- Family-based classes! Jenn shared, “we will have different class types and themes [throughout the year] where we focus on creating a fun place for you to be active with your kiddo. We want to help your child develop positive feelings about exercise and create fun opportunities for families to be active together! Follow us [Granite Fitness] on social media to find out more about these upcoming classes!” 

Since March 2020, Granite’s group fitness classes—and Jenn’s style of teaching—have evolved. “We now livestream 20 plus classes per week at Granite and our team of instructors is amazing and it carries through the camera and into the living rooms/garages/hotels of those signing in with us. Our team has a heart for fitness and people.” This makes for a great option for those working from home, and/or homeschool students.

So, as you celebrate this month of love, and give out cute heart-shaped candies and cards, don’t forget to also get your heart pumping! Join a gym, do an online class, or dance in your kitchen…. Just get up and move! And encourage your kids to do the same.

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