Thunder Fit Challenges Students to Develop Healthy Habits

When the eighth-graders at Deer Creek Middle School walked into P.E. class on Thursday morning, they found their gym transformed – and a crew of Thunder representatives waiting for them.

They were about to take part in the first Thunder Fit of the school year.

Every year, the Thunder travels to middle schools in the Oklahoma City metro to help reinforce to kids in this critical age group the importance of fitness and nutrition.

“We hope that it gets some momentum going,” said Christine Berney, director of Community Relations for the Thunder. By having Thunder representatives talk about keeping healthy, the team hopes to find “something that really clicks in the kids’ mind and grabs their attention.”

For about an hour, the kids go in small groups through several stations to flex different muscles and flex their brains.

On Thursday, Thunder Youth Basketball coaches led the kids through shooting and dribbling drills, showing them how to be more successful in these skills – and hopefully encouraging them to keep practicing.

Ron Matthews, our director of Digital Media and Publications and a long-time fitness buff, joined Thunder Girls Ashley and Ashley to lead the students in a basic core-workout routine.

And dietician Nicole Crossley talked to the groups about making better food choices, then challenged them to a relay race with food cards to reinforce what she taught.

“I want to focus on getting them a more balanced meal,” she said.

“A lot of times, they look at me like, ‘This is crazy; I would never do this.’ But then, I think at the end of it, they think about it … If you put it in perspective for them and different things that they like, they really start to understand.”

Thunder Fit clinics, presented by Homeland, aim to show middle-schoolers how making a series of better choices can add up to a healthier lifestyle.

The students walk away with easy-to-remember exercises, fitness tips and nutrition information – and it doesn’t hurt that the information is delivered by the Thunder.

“Having a chance to have someone whom they respect, with the Thunder, and get excited about, come in and tell them there are other ways to eat and drink and enjoy things – and just ingrain that in them early on […] is good for them,” said Reuben Bellows, principal of Deer Creek Middle School.

“It makes them feel important” when they have someone such as a Thunder representative take time to personally teach them about these things, he noted.

Though this hour-long clinic may not make an immediate difference in the kids’ lives, the Thunder hopes these Thunder Fit clinics will help send kids down a better path.

Crossley believes that if the kids listen, “they’ll start to make healthier choices – maybe one little thing at a time, but it all adds up.”