Local News

Raleigh fitness program helping children shape up

Posted January 26, 2009 11:39 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Childhood obesity is a growing problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of children are overweight or obese. The new Hi 5 Fitness Program in Raleigh is trying to beat those odds.

"At Hi 5, we work very hard on basically getting them active. That means anything that is moving,” said program founder Susan Caldwell.

The children in the program are from 5 to 18 and are taught about living healthy through exercise and eating right. When WRAL News visited the class on Monday, the children were making their own pizzas with broccoli, spinach and tomatoes.

"I can't believe my children are eating that (pizza), to be honest with you. There aren't any big slices of pepperoni. I can't believe it,” mother Karen Phelps said.

Caldwell, 34, founded the fitness program, but she hasn't always been a fitness guru.

"It is hard to believe that I used to weigh 300 pounds,” she said.

Caldwell says she started gaining weight in college and was in the worst shape of her life in 2006. Inspired by a woman in People Magazine who lost a lot of weight, Caldwell began watching what she ate and working out.

Caldwell lost 123 pounds and dropped 14 dress sizes. Last year, she graced the pages of People Magazine’s “Half Their Size” issue.

She is now trying to inspire a younger generation to get fit. Caldwell says she called the program "Hi 5" because she wants to encourage children to eat from the five basic food groups and have five days of physical activity every week.