A Fitness Formula for Success for Your Child

Posted on: July 20th, 2015 by Nicki

A Fitness Formula for Success for Your Child

By Jon Kahney, MS, CSCS
ProActive Kids Head Coach – Park Ridge


Just like Algebra, youth fitness can be complex with many variables.  Here’s a quick equation that will help you get your child on the road to fitness success.



1)      MODEL appropriate fitness behaviors for your child.  Children will observe and mimic adult behaviors and habits.  If you eat healthy and exercise regularly, so will your kids.

2)      MOTIVATE your kids.  This can be tough sometimes but it can be done.  Ask them their likes and dislikes and provide them the opportunity to pursue physical activities they enjoy.  If they enjoy what they are doing, the motivation will come from within.

3)      MANAGE their time and energy.  Set structured times for homework, exercise, and play.  Setting a structured foundation for time and energy management will help them as they become teens and adults.


1)      EDUCATE your kids on the value of exercise.  Educating them allows them to understand the value exercise plays in their lives.  Physical fitness is the foundation for creative intellect.  An interesting fact:  The brain is 2% of the body’s weight but uses 70% of the body’s blood supply.  Fitness is essential to maximal brain function.

2)      ENCOURAGE your kids to exercise.  Get them off the couch, out the door, and off to play.  Praise them when they exercise or play and refrain from criticisms about your child’s weight or appearance.  Anything negative you say now could create negative self-image and be detrimental to their motivation.

3)      EMPOWER your kids to be fit.  Allow them to choose how they want to exercise.  Also allow your kids to choose healthy meals and teach them how to prepare those meals.  A child who has the knowledge of how to prepare healthy meals or snacks will be less likely to choose junk food.





See PAK in Action – Video

Posted on: June 24th, 2013 by Nicki

See what ProActive Kids is all about in this short video! PAK coaches and PAK kids talk about PAK!

This video shows how PAK staff engages the kids and families at our Advocate Children’s Hospital (Oak Lawn, IL) location.

PAK trainer, Brad Laroque, and Dietitian, Allison Balocca, guide us through a glimpse of what goes on at a Family Friday at PAK.

The kids tell us about what they have learned about PAK and how it has helped them on their quest for a healthier lifestyle!


How to Talk with Your Child about Weight

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by Nicki

Talking to kids about weight can be a sensitive topic, no matter their age, relationship, comfort level, etc. But, if you have enrolled them in the ProActive Kids program, you should sit down and talk with them about the program and your goals – creating a healthier lifestyle for everyone in the family.  We know these conversations can be particularly hard and sometimes we “just don’t know what to say” when they ask us tough questions or share hardships they are experiencing. We are sharing a great resource with you from the STOP Obesity Alliance to help you talk with your kids about sensitive topics that may come up around weight.  I am developing a strong relationship with this group and they are seeking OUR (your help and my help) in developing tools to help kids and families who are struggling. 

We know you don’t want to say or do the wrong thing and risk alienating or hurting them. We will go through many communication lessons onsite during the program and this will be your first PAK lesson. Sit down and talk with your child about getting healthy and learning how to live a healthy lifestyle! Let them know you care about them and are doing this for them and their health. Remind them that other kids will be there to go through this with them and they will have a lot of fun, while learning a lot.

Questions about weight can be particularly difficult to answer. Parents are trying to manage feelings their child’s feelings about weight, but perhaps also trying to have a constructive conversation to address weight.

Below you will find multiple situations that you may encounter. Each topic has a guide to help you talk through the particular issue with your child. We hope these are incredibly helpful in guiding you through tough discussions!

After you read through the information, we would love to learn more about how it worked for your family and your discussions. If you could take our brief survey, we would really appreciate it!  





















New Locations: Burr Ridge and Aurora

Posted on: July 30th, 2015 by Nicki

ProActive Kids is in the process of adding two new sites to our list of locations. We are in the early planning phases but wanted to allow interested families the ability to “pre-register” for these locations to help us garner interest from the community.

Please sign up now using the link below and we will add you to the participant list. By filling out this form, you are not committing to the program, but we will keep you up to date on these new locations via email as they progress in their development.




One Mom’s Writes About PAK

Posted on: June 25th, 2013 by Nicki

Read this letter a mom wrote for us to pass on to our partner, Edward Hospital, as a thank you for offering the PAK program.

Dear Health Care Provider,

I am writing to express how grateful and impressed I am with the ProActive Kids program and their team members. Each part that entails the program is what has helped my daughter, Desiree take charge of her health and weight. It has also given me the tools/ideas needed to assist Desiree in facing any challenges with dieting, exercise, and self confidence. This well rounded program has taught, not only my daughter, but our family as a whole, the many aspects involved in nutrition and physical health.

As a school nurse I see children literally everyday that are in great need of such a course. So many parents are oblivious to the education that each family member needs in managing a child’s weight problem. I continue to highly recommend PAK to family and friends who share any concerns about their child’s health and weight. I use to work for 5 family practitioners who frequently see children with different health issues and remember being told by the physician that the root of their sickness many times was their weight. I can now give testimony to them, sharing the success of the PAK program. They can now order with confidence the PAK program and know it will help their patients get on the right road to weight management.

PAK is a fabulous curriculum that I hope continues to grow, expand, and reach the many needed children and their families in their needs in weight control. This is much more than just another weight loss program, it educates the student and parent to get at the root of the weight problem. From learning how to eat right through nutrition, becoming energetic through the exercise sessions, to the counseling explaining to us why and/or how we have gotten to where we are now in our weight. Every aspect has been a great help.

Thank you again for all your care and efforts in assisting Desiree to a longer, happier life.




Ways My Mom Keeps Me Healthy

Posted on: May 3rd, 2013 by Nicki

Nic, 12,  is the son of Monica — Monica ran PAK for its first year and a half and is one of the reasons we are so successful today. In addition to PAK, she teaches group lessons at Export Fitness and works at the Naperville Running Company.

We asked Nic to tell us how his PAK mom keeps him healthy. Its so great he can recognize her hard work and understand WHY she does it.

Monica runs a healthy, but balanced house as it relates to nutrition and fitness. Just the other night, she bought her families brownies at a fundraiser. So its all in moderation!

Nic spent a lot of time at PAK in the early days, here you will see him playing a game with the other kids.

Ways My Mom Keeps Me Healthy (whether I like it or not).

“First – my mom never ever gives me sweet things in the morning.  I eat lots of grains in the morning along with a yogurt for the protein.  For most of my meals I cannot drink soda.  I can only have soda on special occasions.

My mom signs me up for a lot of sports.  A lot of them I don’t even want to be in, but I don’t have a choice.

Another thing I do not do is constantly snack.  When I snack, I make a full plate of food so that it keeps me full and I can see what I’m eating.  If my snack is not enough, I get some gum out and wait a while before I eat something else.

My mom always reminds me that I have to get physical exercise in every day, which I don’t really want to do sometimes, and eat healthy most of the time!

She always says – “The body is like a simple math equation.  Calories in, calories out!  Another one she always says – “The body is like a machine – the more you move, the smoother it runs.  Fuel that machine with good food and it will stay strong!”

Some days I don’t want to move or eat good things, but my mom makes me do it and after I am done, I always feel good about it.


A Healthy Grocery Run!

Posted on: April 22nd, 2013 by Nicki

Last week, I was unable to go to the grocery store for my BIG Sunday run. I always go on Sundays, so I can make a nice dinner Sunday evening as well as have lunch items and healthy dinner foods for the week. Sunday is also a great day because I don’t work, so I can take my time and focus on buying food that will make meals, in addition to not have to worry about shopping during the busy work/school week!

Most Sundays, I create a list before I go. What do I want to make… followed by what I need to buy.

So, a few Sundays ago, I decided to hit Aldi because I didn’t have time to drive to my favorite grocery store (a blog for another day!)

I love Aldi for a variety of reasons.

  1. Its very close to my house.
  2. It has a small parking lot and not very many aisles. SO its efficient!
  3. They have a healthy brand called, Fit N Active
  4. They have the basics offered at very reasonable prices. So, this is the place for milk, butter, eggs, baking supplies, bread, etc!
  5. They have seasonal German items because they are German-owned.

So, I wanted to share my purchases with you. I believe my cart showed very good balance that day. It had mostly healthy foods with a few treats and snacks for the kids. But, the majority were GO FOODS and together, could make up meals that would get us through the week!

The fruits are great for lunch sides, in addition to a sandwich! The grains are great for breakfast or mixed into the yogurt!

The veggies can all be accompanied with the meat or fish for a tasty dinner. Add a glad of milk and you have a well-rounded meal!








Sweet Potatoes
Canned Okra/Tomato/Corn
Tomato Juice


Canned Pineapple
Dried Apricots

String Cheese
Greek Yogurt (large plain and individual fruit flavors)

Pork Chops
Ground Turkey

Sunflower Bread (German)
Muesli Cereal
Get Balance Cereal (Compare to Kashi)
Fiber Now Bars (careful.. they are a Slow food!)

The WHOA Foods/Snack Foods
Cinnamon Toast Sticks
Peanut Butter Crakers
V8 Juice Blend
Golden Graham Snack Bars
Personal Pizzas



Change is Hard.

Posted on: April 16th, 2013 by Nicki

We kicked off a new PAK session yesterday.  Sessions are full with tons of families and kids dedicated to getting healthy! All of our sites have awesome teams of coaches that are dedicated to helping them make sustainable, long-term healthy changes  to their daily lifestyle!

At PAK, we know change is hard. Change is hard for everyone. It takes time, commitment, dedicate, planning, creativity and more. No one said it was easy. At PAK, we will focus on small changes at a given time so that we can practice them, make them part of our daily life, then move on to make changes in another area. Trying to make all the changes at the same time is no way to set SMART goals.

SMART goals are – S -pecific, M -easureable, A – ttainable, R-ealistic, and T-imely. That’s how we set the RIGHT goals at PAK.

Here is what we know about change. Onsite, we will help both parents and kids through positive changes that will impact their lives and work through the change that is more difficult.

To our families: we know your struggles. We have helped a lot of people and we are here to help you!

1)      Change is hard. Any kind of lifestyle change is hard to do, whether that’s trying to quit smoking, lose weight, stop biting nails, get better grades or spend more time as a family.  Are PAK goals on your family’s priority list? Do you have too many things you are committed to as a family right now? Are there other changes that are happening at the same time?

Having too many changes or stressors can hinder you from making the changes you want for a healthier lifestyle. Make sure  you have allowed time in these 8 weeks for your family to embark on PAK and practice our lessons at home.

2)      Because change is hard, it needs to be a family effort. We want PAK families to have a healthy lifestyle, not just lose weight or eat less. Lifestyle impacts families and children cannot make these on their own. Even if you have children of a healthy weight we encourage everyone in the family to adopt the changes you desire for your PAK child. This includes parents as well!

3)      Sometimes not everyone in the family is on board. While we hope the whole family embraces the goals for a healthier lifestyle, sometimes this is not the case. If parents are divorced or another family member is the primary caregiver, this can pose a challenge. Have an open discussion with these people about the importance of your childs health. Encourage them to contact PAK staff if they have questions or to come on a Friday where PAK families learn together.

4)      Sometimes a part of us doesn’t want to change.It’s normal to feel a little ambivalent. While a part of us wants to be healthy, a part of us doesn’t, doesn’t know how, doesn’t have the time, doesn’t have the energy, etc. Maybe it’s more familiar or comfortable to stay the same. You have to ask yourself, what do you really want for your family or your child in the long run? PAK staff will encourage you to meet your goals and help you solve problems as they come up!

5)      Kids don’t always like change either. Be prepared to find resistance from your kids as you start PAK. They might say they’re still hungry (when you know they have had enough to eat) or they don’t want to do the exercises. They might get mad at you. Resistance is normal but don’t back down. Research has shown that if a child cries/whines for 30 minutes and the parent gives in, the child will cry or whine longer the next time the parent tries to enforce the rule. So instead of whining for 30 minutes, he will whine for 45 minutes. If you stand your ground, the child will eventually stop whining because he will learn it’s no use.


Comments from PAK Coaches

Posted on: March 25th, 2013 by Nicki

Just wanted to share some PAK Coach comments about the program. We thank them for their guidance and dedication to PAK!

West Chicago Dietitian –

“Yesterday’s graduation went GREAT- you could tell that the kids were so happy and there was a ton of positive energy in the room! I truly felt like they (and their families) were proud of themselves. I am having such a hard time leaving the program–I was telling Mark last night, if I could have a job like this full-time, I would be the happiest dietitian in Illinois! I can’t say enough wonderful things about your program and if I am ever able to return to help out I would jump on the opportunity.

I want to thank you SO, SO very much for allowing me to be involved with PAK this session, and I know in my heart that I am going to miss it (I started missing it already when the families said thier goodbyes last night!). The PAK staff is hands-down AWESOME, and I have had the best time working with you all. I wish you the absolute BEST of luck, and I am 100% confident that PAK is going to just take off and grow–and make so many positive changes in the lives of children and their families. Again, thank you so much!! I truly hope that our paths cross again in the future!! :)

Wheaton Dietitian –

“I must tell you how much I enjoyed PAK, it was so rewarding to watch the kids make progress and meet their goals.  I really wish that you would explore options on the South Side so I can participate in the program again.”




Fun Events for PAK Grads

Posted on: March 9th, 2013 by Nicki

Take Action Days have been designed for ProActive Kids GRADUATES and their families to do a fun activity or event, come back together, recap all the great lessons learned at PAK, see PAK friends, and have some fun as a family!

They also give  us a chance to see you all again and see how you have progressed since attending PAK.

Also, please register for our end of year party at the Chicago Bulls Academy! It will be an awesome morning of fun for the whole family!


Upcoming Take Action Days

Saturday, November 15
Circuit Workout At Heaven and Health Bootcamp

The word “boot camp” is a misunderstood term. It brings to mind images of military fatigues, angry drill sergeants ?screaming at terrified young recruits, and bare knuckle living conditions. Come join Coach Damon for a fun workout at the Heaven and Health gym using real personal trainer equipment!
Who: PAK Kids and up to 3 family members
Date: Saturday, Nov 15, 2014
Time: 10:00 – 11:00  am
Location: Heaven and Health Bootcamp -  1617 Ogden Ave, Lisle, IL 60532 (near Ogden and 53)
Cost: FREE



Saturday, January 3, 2015
ProActive Kids Year End / Fresh Start Party at the Chicago Bulls and White Sox Academy

The Bulls Sox Training Academy offers the coolest innovation in digital fitness technologies. Join PAK at this end-of-year party to have fun in their VAULT featuring Sports Arena, TouchMagix, Freedom Climber, Neuroactive Brain Bikes, Expresso Bikes, iDance, T-Wall… and their HOPSports, a hi-tech video driven exercise station will get the young bodies moving to one of the 100 unique programs meant to stimulate fundamental athletic movement in very unconventional ways.

All PAK kids are invited and the whole place is reserved just for us. PAK will pay for up to 4 family members to attend (you can pay for more). DONT MISS IT! It will be a great way to end your year of health!

WHO; PAK Kids and up to 3 family members (you can bring more than 3 but must pay for them).
Date: Saturday, January 3, 2014
Time: 10 – 1230 pm
Location: Chicago Bulls and White Sox Academy 6200 River Bend Drive  – Lisle, IL 60532
Cost: Free for four families members (any additional will be $10.00 per person).



Saturday, January 10 – 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Edward Pool

Swimming is great exercise. Plain and simple. But some worry that they can’t swim lengths of the pool to enjoy the benefits of water exercise. This Take Action Day is all about fitness in the water. We will run, kick, jump, and “lift weights” using the natural resistance of the water.

Please note: This is NOT a swim lesson where they learn strokes. Kids must have experience and confidence in the water to participate.

Who: Any child who attended ProActive Kids (sorry, there is not room for other kids to attend or swim at same time).
Date: Saturday, January 10, 2015

Time: 12:30 – 1:30  pm (stay until 5:30 for free swim)

Location:  Edward Heath and Fitness Center at 6600 S. Route 53 Woodridge, IL 60517 Ph: (630) 646-7900
Cost: FREE (unless parents or siblings want to participate in free swim at $5.00/person.)



All locations will be starting on January 12th, 2015, including our newest location in Addison, IL!

Click here for locations and to register: