Who would have thought that students could have fun learning about health? The Manchester Athletic Club's Enrichment Program is now making that possible. The MAC hosted elementary and middle school students from around Cape Ann this spring to educate them about health and fitness activities. The program covers four components: nutrition, science, fitness, and tennis through interactive classes taught by their personal trainers and nutritional/wellness coaches.

Recently, 90 seventh-grade students from O'Maley Middle School learned about sports drinks and their effects on teens.¬ The students examined nutrition labels on sodas, sports drinks and coffee drinks to see the amount of sugar, artificial ingredients and caffeine were in them. Much to their surprise, there was a lot.¬ 

"Caffeine is bad for this age group," says Mary Grazen-Browne, a nutrition instructor. "They don't need stimulants." "We're trying to get the kids to make better choices by avoiding artificial ingredients." Although¬ after class¬ most of the students said they would still drink soda, they might not drink as much now.¬ 

"The current generation of children is dealing with unprecedented health issues never before seen in our society," says Rob Gagnon, Director of Fitness and Master Personal Trainer at the MAC. "Issues such as childhood obesity and diabetes which, combined with a lack of physical activity and good nutrition, will create a 'perfect storm' of unhealthy teens and adults."

By turning exercises into games, the Enrichment Program makes fitness fun. All of this is certainly one lesson they hope the kids will take beyond the classroom.

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