A gym just their size 

A gym just their size

When Brady Iba's mother told him she wanted him to join a gym for kids, he had some serious reservations.

But when he walked into the Energym in Southlake Town Square, those worries were quickly replaced with "wows."

"I'd been to a couple of other gyms before, but I felt intimidated because there were all these adults who were really fit," said the Fort Worth 13-year-old. "Then I came here and I took a look around and I was like, 'Cool, it's like an arcade.' Plus, I didn't feel intimidated because here, everyone's my age."

Energym, the brainchild of Colleyville residents Kevin and Suzanne Bolden, pairs high-tech toys with exercise equipment in a kid-friendly environment where youngsters can get their bodies moving without even realizing it.

"It really is a perfect marriage," said Mr. Bolden, a former "software guy."

"Basically, these are just games that require you to move to make them work," he said. "It's something kids like to do, and it's good for them."

The Boldens had always dreamed of creating a business that would provide better fitness alternatives for children, but it didn't come into focus until they realized that there was emerging technology that could capture both a child's interest and activity.

"He's working out, and he doesn't even know it," said Mr. Bolden, gesturing to a boy who was pedaling furiously on a stationary bike linked to a video racing game. "The faster he pedals, the faster the car on the screen goes. He's exercising, but he just thinks he's playing a video game."

That interactive concept prevails throughout Energym, which is designed for 6- to 14-year-olds. There are 22 pieces of equipment that incorporate gaming to give youngsters a cardio workout while improving their strength, agility, reflexes, cognitive skills and endurance.

"Most of these games are games you would have at home, but our equipment is designed to integrate a fitness program into the video game," explained Mr. Bolden, 35. "These games require you to work out. At home, the most workout they would get is in their thumbs."

Darrell Myatt of Keller said the gym is a big hit with his three children 'C ages 6, 10 and 12.

"Kids need something like this with their lifestyle nowadays of just sitting around watching TV and playing video games," Mr. Myatt said. "Plus, it's fun. My kids love it."

In addition to the gym equipment, one-on-one training and small group classes such as yoga and a confidence-building class for children with special needs also are available.

Although Energym has been open for only a few weeks, interest is high, and the Boldens are working to make sure they remain on the cutting edge.

"We're really ahead of the curve here," Mr. Bolden said. "There's nothing else like this out there right now."

Veronica Villegas is a Fort Worth-based freelance writer.

River Myatt, 6, of Keller races his father, Darrell Myatt, on stationary bikes connected to a video game at Energym. The Southlake gym is designed to give children 6 to 14 a cardio workout while improving strength, agility and endurance.

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