Houston Fitness Fair with Mary Lou Retton – Family Health
THE DISCOVER FITNESS FOUNDATION ANNUAL FITNESS FAIR
by Bernadette Verzosa
Saturday, September 14, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday, September 15, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
George R. Brown Convention Center, Hall B-3
Editor’s Note: ParentsPost.com is a Media Sponsor of the Fitness Fair with Mary Lou Retton presented by the Discover Fitness Foundation. The Fitness Fair helps keep Houston families healthy by encouraging kids to participate in sports and eat nutritious foods. Discover Fitness Foundation grants scholarships to children in six Houston area gymnastics schools. The scholarships are given to children with moderate to severe disabilities and children fighting obesity.
Houston mom Monica Iza blocked out this mid-September weekend a long time ago. She is taking her 9-year-old son Andres and 7-year-old daughter Daniela to the Fitness Fair with Mary Lou Retton presented by the Discover Fitness Foundation (DFF).
“My daughter is really looking forward to meeting the Olympic gymnasts Mary Lou Retton and Svetlana Boginskaya, and my son wants to kick the soccer ball around with the Houston Dynamo players Bobby Boswell and Brian Ching,” says Iza.
She says the annual Fitness Fair has positively affected her children’s lifestyle and outlook. “At last year’s fitness fair, they met professional athletes and they became more interested in being active and doing sports. The kids can see how working hard and pursuing a dream can get you wherever you want to be. They started thinking about what they eat after listening to the big sports guys talking about what they eat and how bad junk food is for them. They used to get annoyed whenever I said ‘that is not healthy.’ After the fair, they understood how important good nutrition is.”
FITNESS FAIR & TEXAS CLASSIC
The two-day Fitness Fair features sports and nutrition stations as well as health screening booths. Children can participate in gymnastics and martial arts lessons, soccer and basketball games, even baseball and football drills. They can recharge by sampling foods from Houston restaurants, and learn how to prepare nutritious dishes at interactive cooking kitchens.
“We hope to demonstrate that there are many choices of ways to be fit. You can choose different sports and activities, develop good eating habits and attend to your medical needs,” says Carly Markesich, DFF Founder and Executive Director. “We also want children to be inspired by the athletes they will meet up close and personal. Mary Lou is a household name, and America’s darling – the first female athlete on the Wheaties Box! She is a great role model for children, and she represents the success story that we want all kids to aspire to – hard work and determination will result in a positive future.”
Also available to families are education booths and medical screenings. Visitors can undergo basic vision and dental check-ups. Kids can also explore giant walk-through models of the heart, brain and torso.
The Fitness Fair is presented at the George R. Brown Convention Center alongside the Texas Classic gymnastics competition. Nearly 800 young gymnasts from around the state are competing in individual and team events throughout the weekend.
DISCOVER FITNESS FOUNDATION
Markesich, who is also the owner of Discover Gymnastics in the Heights, established DFF to help Houston families stay fit. “Houston is fourth on the national ranking for most obese city in the U.S. The DFF has joined the fight against childhood obesity,” she tells ParentsPost.com.
DFF also assists children with special needs and families in underserved areas. “Houston is also one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. This rapid growth has the potential to further marginalize the underprivileged in our community,” says Markesich. “It is up to community leaders to make sure this marginalization is reduced. By including this segment of our population in activities afforded to others, we can introduce these children and their parents to the opportunities that are available to them.”
Last year, DFF presented the Fitness Fair as a smaller event at Discover Gymnastics on Shepherd Drive.