Start New Year with New Ideas to get Family Moving

Rock climbers overcome gravity at St. Louis gymEvery year begins with big plans to exercise more. It’s time to say goodbye to festivities and get serious about getting in shape. But exercise doesn’t have to be tedious or boring. Metro Atlanta is teeming with creative, painless and, yes, fun ways to burn calories. There is something for everyone — from rock climbing to Bollywood dance classes to easy strolls along the Beltline.


Stop using the word “exercise”: As adults, we talk about getting exercise and working out. But kids don’t want to “work out, ” they want to play. Instead of “exercise, ” talk about “playtime” and “be active.”

Break it up: Sometimes getting active for an hour a day can sound like a lot for kids. Make it easier by breaking up the 60 minutes into smaller bursts of play throughout the day — a 20-minute-long family walk, 20 minutes of shooting hoops outside, 15 minutes of playing tag.

Go for fun: Encourage activities that are both fun and physical, like hopscotch, jumping rope, tag and hide-and-go-seek.

Take it inside: On days when it’s raining, too hot or you just want to gather under the same roof, turn on the music and dance. Have one person in charge of the music and have everyone freeze when the music is turned off. Other ideas for inside include blowing up balloons and playing volleyball or baseball inside. Have animal races. Take turns calling out an animal name. When an animal is called, everyone has to move like that animal to a finish line. Make the animal noise, too, and you will have everyone laughing.

One step at a time: You don’t have to go full throttle on the activity level right away. It’s OK to start building movement into your day slowly and increasing the amount and intensity over time. The important thing is to remember that some is better than none.


SOURCE: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life. For more tips, go to


A couple other ideas:

Rock climbing

Why not take your full-body workout to new heights this year?

You don’t even have to go outside to go rock climbing. And, in metro Atlanta, you’ve got several options for challenging your mind and body by ascending an indoor rock wall.

In fact, the metro area is home to some of the nation’s largest indoor climbing facilities. Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center, which opened in Atlanta in 2010, has 30,000 square feet of climbing surface. A second Stone Summit opened in Kennesaw in December and features 32,000 square feet of climbing space.

Stone Summit is by no means limited to seasoned climbers. The upper level contains a workout area, complete with elliptical machines, treadmills, exercise bikes and a weight room. Users can join Stone Summit for a flat rate and have access to everything from the climbing wall to exercise classes to cardio machines and weights.

But the climbing areas are definitely the main feature, and careful planning went into crafting every inch of walls as high as 60 feet. Instead of walls that are made to look like real rock, Stone Summit’s main climbing area features brightly colored holds and sharply angled walls.

Stone Summit also has several options for those just getting started.

Special areas can be reserved for corporate events, birthday parties and the like. Staff is available to assist the group to make sure everyone enjoys the experience.

6 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1 p.m.-10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. $18 day pass (with gear) for adults; $15 for one day pass (with gear) for children. Five-visit passes are $70. Unlimited-use memberships are as low as $55 per month. Stone Summit, 3701 Presidential Parkway, Atlanta. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1 p.m.-10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Sundays. 2801 George Busbee Parkway, Kennesaw. 678-720-9882,

Other indoor climbing options: Atlanta Rocks Intown, 1019 Collier Road N.W., Suite A, Atlanta. 404-351-3009, Adrenaline Climbing, 460 Brogdon Road, No. 100, Suwanee. 770-271-1390, Wall Crawler Rock Club, 1522 DeKalb Ave., No. 2, Atlanta. 404-371-8997,


From bike tours, to sunset hikes to yoga and aerobic classes (all free), you can take advantage of the Atlanta Beltline, a popular loop of parks and trails in the middle of a bustling metropolis.

Four trails totaling about 7 miles are now open. All feature at least one continuous mile of wide (12 to 14 feet), paved scenic paths with secure footing, where no cars or motorized vehicles are allowed (wheelchairs are OK).

One of the offerings is the free Atlanta Beltline Arboretum Walking Tour, led by a Trees Atlanta docent, which explores the Eastside Trail. It’s a great way to learn about trees and find out interesting facts about the Beltline while also getting a workout.

Tour groups meet Fridays and Saturdays behind Parish Restaurant, 240 N. Highland Ave., in Inman Park. Tours from October to May depart at 10 a.m., returning at 11:30 a.m.; from June to September, tours begin at 9 a.m. to beat the heat. Reservations are required. Participants must check in by 9:45 a.m. October-May and 8:45 a.m. June-September.

Also popular are the How to Ride Your Bike classes (for adults and children); ElliptiGo exploring (essentially an elliptical machine on wheels that can go on trails); and play days, which involve classic games like kickball as well as newer games like bubble-suit soccer.

For a complete schedule of activities, and to register, go to

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