The Minot YMCA's Youth Training Center, designed for kids in grades three through eight, inspires kids to set their own fitness goals.
On any given day, 30 to 40 kids come to the center to work out on the treadmills, the recumbent bikes with interactive computer screens, or the weight machines. They can also stop in and play the center's Nintendo Wii games.
"It's a laid back place where kids can come and feel comfortable," said Shaylee Ulledal, Minot YMCA Youth Training Center manager. "The machines are smaller-sized than the adult machines, designed especially for kids."
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Hunter Benjamin, right, works at the leg press machine while Dylan Kraft, Youth Training Center employee, looks on.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Travis Huber, right, works out on a weight machine while Shaylee Ulledal, Youth Training Center manager, looks on.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Dylan Kraft, employee at the Youth Training Center, left, and Shaylee Ulledal, Youth Training Center manager, teach kids how to get the most out of a workout.
"We hope to get them used to the working-out concept, and teach them the right techniques to use the machines," she said.
The excitement of many of the kids who use the center is contagious. Most are enthusiastic about working toward their goals.
"I like coming here," said Travis Huber, one of the training center's users. "It's really a workout with all the machines they have. You don't get to do all of this at your house."
"Coming here is a lot of fun, and I usually end up coming here every weekend," Hunter Benjamin, another training center user, said.
Dylan Kraft, Youth Training Center employee, explained that the center's clubs help keep kids on track with their goals. The 1200 Club encourages kids to come in to the center three times a week, use all the machines, and run a mile on the track or the treadmill. Kids who keep coming are awarded prizes like T-shirts, sweatshirts and movie tickets.
Another club is the Mileage Club, where training center employees track how many miles kids have put in either at home or at the center.
"The kids seem to have a good response to the clubs, they are telling their parents they need to come so they can reach their goals. We like to keep them coming back and we hope that they learn to lift the right way, and they get a good exposure to fitness," Ulledal said.
All kids that come in to the center are given lessons on how to use the machines at first. If they need a refresher, staff can help out.
"For me, I know that I learned how to use the machines and lift weights by seeing someone else doing it and then doing it myself; it doesn't help when someone just tells me how to do it. So, that's how I try to teach the kids," Kraft said.
"When we're teaching them how to lift weights, we tell them how many reps they should do. We want them to lift the weight that they can, we don't want them to be straining or slamming the machines. We focus on lifting less weight and doing more reps," Ulledal said.
The Youth Training Center has been open for about two years, and its popularity with kids and parents seems to be picking up.
"We almost always get good feedback from parents and from kids," Ulledal said. "The parents say that their kids really enjoy coming, and the kids always like showing their parents what they can do."