Health & Safety

August 15, 2013

Parents follow the yellow brick road to fitness

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Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook)
Madison Walker, daughter of Staff Sgt. Logan Walker, 42nd Electronic Combat Squadron, utilizes the kid-friendly rock climbing wall as her mother, Sarah Walker, runs on the treadmill in the Munchkin Room at the Benko Fitness and Sports Center Aug. 7. The Munchkin Room, the only child-friendly area at the gym, allowed Sarah to bring her daughter and her son, Liam, to the gym with her while her husband is deployed.

The Benko Fitness and Sports Center has a little something for all types of exercise enthusiasts. From bikers to runners, from swimmers to lifters, the gym offers equipment and facilities for a myriad of workouts. One group they cater to is parents.

The Benko Fitness and Sports Center Munchkin Room is the only child-friendly area of the gym. The room, located off the right side of the front desk, features equipment for both parents and children.

“This room has everything parents need to maintain a good fitness routine and is designed for those who don’t have alternative care for their children when they want to work out,” said Cesar Vinueza, 355th Force Support Squadron Benko Fitness and Sports Center manager.

On the adult side, the room is outfitted with cardio equipment, such as tread mills and ellipticals, as well as things like dumb bells and a weight-lifting machine for strength training.

For child visitors, there are blocks, a television, a kid-friendly rock climbing wall and various other toys to entertain them while parents workout. All of these things are enclosed by a plastic fence.

“It’s hard as a mother to find time, let alone the means, to exercise,” said Sarah Walker, spouse of Staff Sgt. Logan Walker, 42nd Electronic Combat Squadron. “It’s really important to me to stay fit and healthy, so it’s nice to have a place that I can take my kids when I exercise. It’s free, and they’re right here with me so I can still keep an eye on them.”

The Munchkin Room has a few rules for those who use it. To name a few: all drinks must be capped, there is no food allowed and workouts must be limited to 30 minutes when the room is at maximum capacity.

“We also need parents to sign themselves and their children in when they make use of the room,” Vinueza said. “Keeping track of the room’s use helps us with funding, which helps us keep the room open.”

All children younger than the age of 12 are welcome in the Munchkin Room.

“We have parents bring in infants,” Vinueza said. “They bring them into the room in their car seat, and they sit the baby down next to the treadmill or next to the bike where they are working out. That way they can do their exercises and still keep a close eye on the infant. We welcome that. Fitness is an important part of anyone’s life, and we want to facilitate an accommodating environment for parents who need to bring their children to the gym with them.”




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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