BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Sweat drips from the tip of Karen Barrier's nose. A 10-pound weight wobbles above her head, supported by burning muscles in her arms. It's not unusual for lots of people this time of year. But what is unusual for Barrier is that her daughters, 12-year-old Katherine Nettles and 9-year-old Caroline Nettles, are in the gym with her.
Familyfit Athletics' family-friendly approach to exercise is the brain-child of Andrea Sebastien-Roberts. "I decided I needed to spend more time with my family, and I needed to focus more on teaching my children about leading a healthy life," says Sebastien-Roberts who fought her own battles with weight as a child.
In high school, Sebastien-Roberts says she found running and eventually weight lifting, and trimmed her frame. "When I was in college, I was more focused on what could make the most money," she says, "so I got a business degree." That led to a lucrative career for a very large technology firm. It was while she was working in the tech industry that a workout injury changed Sebastien-Roberts' outlook.
Doctors sentenced her to three months bed rest. "I was out of work, and during that time," Sebastien-Roberts says, "I guess I started contemplating the meaning of life and what's important."
When doctors released her, she hit the gym, and LSU for a Master's Degree in Kinesiology.
In November, she opened the gym that busy parents in Baton Rouge like Barrier have been asking for. "I sent so many gyms emails. 'Is there anything we can do as a family?'" she says. The answer was always, "No."
Now, once a week Barrier takes her daughters to the gym with her. Sebastien-Roberts puts them and a group of seven or eight other children through their paces. "We want to teach kids that exercise and fitness, first of all, needs to be integrated into your life, but second, it can be fun," says Sebastien-Roberts between exercises. Each workout consists of resistance training as well as cardio. She follows the exercise with discussions about fitness, nutrition, goal-setting, and other lessons important in the gym and in life.
Sebastien-Roberts closes out the session with a game, then warms up the parents who have been watching from the wings. "I can see them struggle but still go, 'You've got this'," says Barrier. "And when I workout they see me struggle but keep going." Twelve-year-old Katherine agrees, "It's fun seeing my mom try to do her workout, and it's fun doing it with my sister."
And the parent's workout is open to teenagers. "I've seen parents who workout with their kids actually develop a bond over this," says Sebastien-Roberts. "They have something to talk about at home, They come to the gym and they have fun together."
Martha Carol Stewart and her daughter Riley have been sweating together at Familyfit for a month. Martha Carol says it fits her busy schedule. "Most parents are trying to figure out how to work fitness into their schedule and spend time with their children. This is the best of both worlds."
Familyfit Athletics is located on Thad Cain Dr. near the corner of Highland Rd. and Airline Hwy. You can visit their website for more information by going to http://familyfitathletics.com/.