Susan’s Shape Your Future Camp
Today’s article comes from “Hoboken Clarissa”, who recently joined Hoboken411 as a contributing writer.
Susan’s Shape Your Future Camp
It’s no secret that children in America are at risk for developing health ailments linked to their diet and weight. The proliferation of TV shows such as Shaq’s Big Challenge on ABC and Honey We’re Killing the Kids on TLC is evidence of a growing crisis. While TV viewers have Shaquile O’Neal and Felicia Stoler to teach them a healthy lifestyle, Hoboken residents have Susan Gala, of Gala Pilates.
Gala – a petite and energetic woman who has been in the fitness industry for over 25 years – is the ideal role model of health and wellness for children. In 1980, Gala, a former fashion designer who developed a private label collection for Victoria’s Secret, started to explore a career in personal fitness. She started a program called “The Joy of Movement Aerobics” at the McBurney YMCA and trained to become certified in Stott Pilates. By 1989, she was the creative director of her studio and left the fashion industry behind altogether.
But this past year, Gala wanted to teach children what she’s been teaching adults for many years. “I realized that teens have had a huge change in food habits and that there is a growing crisis in childhood obesity,” she says. “Teens who are in high school are always behind computers or on their cell phones instead of playing sports outside.”
She was worried that a lack of funding for Health and Physical Education Courses in high schools around the country would further jeopardize the health of children. Gala wanted to teach Hoboken teens how to tailor their lifestyles to be healthy, just like she does. “They can learn how simple it is to work out outside and they can learn basic nutritional values like the difference between good fats and bad fats,” Gala says.
I loved working with the children, it was a very gratifying experience.– Susan Gala
But Gala faced a major hurdle at the beginning of planning her camp. Many children at risk for developing weight related ailments come from families who do not have sufficient funds to send their children to camp. A lifestyle camp such as the one she envisioned could cost parents a couple of thousand dollars. How could she afford to give underprivileged children the benefit of attending for free, she pondered.
So she found a sponsor. “This camp has nothing to do with Gala pilates,” she says. “It is sponsored by sanofi-aventis and it is a free for all who attend.”
Gala designed her camp around four different modules – pilates, skills & drills, mindful eating and nobility within – all of which she thought are integral to a healthy lifestyle. The children participated in a daily pilates session, an exercise which encourages balance, strength, flexibility and helps build a healthy mind and body. They walked to A&P and learned to interpret food labels. The children wrote in a journal everyday and created artwork.
What more could a director want her campers to learn? Gala, who is a perfectionist, wanted to teach her campers skills they could use to live a well rounded life. Lessons about values, self awareness, respect, courage and creativity were a part of the daily curriculum. She made sure that her campers showed up fifteen minutes early and that they adhered to a strict dress code. “I’m just teaching them skills that they can use everywhere else,” says Gala.
“I loved working with the children,” says Gala, whose camp ends this Friday. “It was a very gratifying experience.”
Does she plan on organizing a similar camp again? “Absolutely,” she says smiling.
Contact Susan Gala at firstname.lastname@example.org