Back to school, back to the gym!

Photo Archives LNC

Photo Archives LNC

It’s a big day in New Caledonia today: some 70,000 children are returning to, or starting, school after their 2-month summer break. For many, that means uniforms (a pilot project in 4 Noumean public schools), for some not (as the uniforms didn’t arrive in time). It means backpacks and packed lunches (canteens are not common here, due to facilities not equipped to meet health norms), new school books, or not  (as at our school, they haven’t yet arrived). Long lost friends and habits are refound. Parents sigh a sigh of relief, or not (for some of us love spending time with our kids). And a new school year is off to a brave start! Whoosh!

Then come the signing up for music lessons and after-school sports activities and art, when you can find it. Keeping idle hands busy, finding and supporting new passions, perfecting that sailing or tennis technique, life can be both busy and fun on this little island.

Added to the heap of after-school activities, I was curious to see a “take your child to the gym” initiative profiled in the newspaper just a few days ago. With 54% of the Caledonian population estimated to be overweight, and a whopping 27% clinically obese, there may be a market for such an initiative (in the north and on the islands, however, is where we have the highest obesity in children (15% in the north, and 30% on the Loyalty Islands).

Oxygene kid gym programmeOxygene, the gym in question, has provided a “children’s space” where parents can leave their children at the gym while they work out, for some time now. Kids are watched after while they colour, play with toys, watch TV, etc. (a practice I tried to convince one of the big gyms in Paris to follow, but no go). Last year, they started the Kids Oxygene programme with a singularly interesting concept in mind: uniting families around sport.

With all of the year-round sports activities available here (sailing, kite-surfing, wind-surfing, stand up paddle, biking, snorkelling, diving, rollerblading, skateboarding, you name it), I was somewhat surprised. But then, these courses are different. They’re all about having fun. For the younger kids (4-9 years of age), a trained professor guides the kids through small-group sessions (Wednesdays, from 2 to 3 pm), gets them running around, using different props, trampolining, playing games and getting their energy out. It’s movement to music and fun circuit training.

Photo Thierry Perron

Photo Thierry Perron

For the older kids (ages 10-14), there are more options. They can become members of the gym and take up to 4 themed classes a week (like sh’bam, zumba and body jam) that are adapted to a younger crowd (parent members can also join in on these “soft” group classes). They can also do some of the water classes, but are not allowed on most of the machines. In addition, they can do a one-hour programme every Wednesday afternoon (3-4 pm), which is an additional introduction to the “soft” group classes and water work-outs.

If your child doesn’t get enough of a workout at school (and many don’t, with only sports once a week for a short period of time), this could be great. I’ve seen a couple of kids working out on the bikes (while reading), and I have to say I’ve been impressed. As they say at the gym, this is a form of sports that is not competitive – a place where kids can feel good no matter what level they’re at (I’ll have more of that, please!).

So how much does this cost?

For the 4-9 year old programme (O2 kids) – 4  one-hour sessions a month (on Wednesdays, 2-3 pm)

CFP 6,500 a month or CFP 18,000 a trimester
(works out to €54 or A$71 per month; or €151 or A$196 a trimester)

For the 10-14-year-old programme (Fit à d’O2) – 4 one-hour sessions a month (on Wednesdays, 3-4 pm)

CFP 8,000 a month or CFP 22,000 a trimester
(works out to €67 or A$87 per month; or €184 or A$239 a trimester

More information can be had by ringing Sandrine at Oxygene at 28 58 62 or stopping by the gym at 10 rue Victor Roffey (Orphelinat).

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